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Who Will Take Care of My Cats When I Die? Here’s How It Works

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

female owner holding her ragdoll kitten

Who Will Take Care of My Cats When I Die? Here’s How It Works

As a pet parent, it’s critical to ensure your cats are properly cared for if something happens to you. There are a few ways to ensure that your cats are taken care of after your death, but the first step is to clarify your wishes and determine who you’d like to care for your companions.

Legally, cats are considered property;  their future living situations can be outlined in wills, but they can’t directly inherit cash or assets. When it comes to providing for your cats’ care, pet trusts and leaving money to whoever takes care of them are both possibilities. Some organizations work with people to ensure their pets are cared for in the long run.

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Evaluate Potential Guardians

Start by thinking about friends and family members who might make good guardians. Take their ages and living arrangements into consideration. Other important factors to keep in mind include whether the person has children, other pets, or a lifestyle that would make pet ownership difficult.

Some organizations work with those facing life’s end to provide rehoming services for pets, and there are retirement homes where cats can live out their days in comfortable surroundings.

Some shelters have programs specifically designed to find new homes for cats left alone due to an owner’s death, and they provide pets with lots of perks, including loving foster homes and medical care.

Think About Your Cats’ Needs

While your 21-year-old cousin may love cats and be the sweetest soul on earth, if your companions are older and have medical needs, they may be better off with a more settled guardian who spends lots of time at home and has extra cash on hand to pay for medical bills that may come up.

With multiple cats, it’s critical to think about how important it is for the bunch to stay together so you can factor that in when evaluating potential guardians. If your best friend already has a cat and lives in a small apartment, for example, you may want to consider other options when finding a new home for your buddies.

man feeding british shorthair cat
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Have a Discussion With a Potential Owner

Reach out to the person you’re considering and ask if they’re willing to step in and care for your cats after your death. Make sure to provide a clear and honest picture of your cats’ needs and your wishes regarding their care.

Allow the person plenty of time to think things over after you’ve given them an idea of what caring for your buddy will likely involve, as a loving and considered refusal can often be the best thing for everyone involved.

Make sure they’re aware of any medical conditions your cats may have, and be upfront and honest about the costs of caring for your companions and any special needs they have that require extra attention.

Save Money for Care Costs

Instructions regarding cats can be included in wills since pets are generally considered property, but you can also keep things simple and leave informal written instructions regarding their care.

It’s possible to leave money to cover expenses to the person you’ve asked to become your cats’ new guardian, but whoever inherits the money can usually use it without restrictions. Pet trusts provide more control by requiring the money spent on cat care, but they can be expensive to set up and complicated to administer.

Speak to an Attorney

Once you decide what steps to take, it’s time to make things official. You can speak to an attorney who specializes in pet law if you’re interested in establishing a trust for your cat or providing money for their care in your will.

Many rehoming programs require pet parents to enroll ahead of time, so make sure you’ve done the legwork to ensure your cats are signed up and your loved ones know about the arrangements you’ve made.

two professionals talking in a meeting
Image Credit: Kite_rin, Shutterstock

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You have a few options when arranging for your cats to be cared for after your death. The first thing to do is to determine who you would like to care for your buddies and under what circumstances. Cats can be included in wills, and they can be provided for by pet trusts. You can also work with friends or relatives to set up a plan to keep your cats safe after you’re gone.

Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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