Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When Cats Outlive Their Owners

I know it’s a tough question to ask... but have you ever wondered what would happen to your pet if something unexpected happened to you? No cat owners like to imagine what their pets’ lives would be like without them, but however sad it may sound, there are
no guarantees in life and anything can happen to anyone at any given time. That’s why it’s so important to make pre-arrangements for the future lifetime care of pets in case their owners are no longer able to care for them.

Most people assume that their friends or relatives would take care of their pets should they get seriously ill, disabled or worse, die first, but it’s frequently not the case. Thousands of pet animals are euthanized every year because
their owners or guardians became ill or have died. Sadly, many heirs of the deceased pet owners take their relative's properties and possessions, but not their pets, which are left behind and usually end up abandoned and all alone. That’s exactly what
happened to Joca, almost three years ago…

Joca’s owner was an elderly lady who took care of him, as well as nine other cats and one dog, until she died. Her successors weren’t interested in any of her animals; moreover, they were
ready to kick all of them out of the apartment right after the funeral. To make things even worse, none of the cats had ever been outside, so their chances of fending for themselves and surviving on their own were almost zero. Adopters or foster homes were desperately needed, but all of the cats were already adults and it was clear they wouldn’t be adopted easily.

After a few weeks of negotiations and vast promises, four of them arrived at my shelter – Joca, Milica, Lilica and
Coka. They were not really skinny, but they had obviously been neglected for some time; they were full of worms and fleas and in delicate health. It took Lilica quite a while to finally adapt to life in the shelter, but the others were super cuddly and lovable from the
beginning. Joca never looked sad, not even in his first days here; he was eating, gaining weight, making new friends and was always sweet and affectionate.

And then, just when I felt that things were back to normal and the new cats seemed
to fit in, he suddenly got seriously sick. No one knew what was happening to him, no definitive diagnosis was made. He had been receiving IV fluids for days, the vets were doing everything they possible could, but his fever persisted and he was just getting
weaker and weaker. One night he was in critical condition, up to the point where I was considering putting him down, as nothing we had tried seemed to help. Miraculously, he succeeded in overcoming the crisis and by the next morning his
symptoms had already begun to abate. He recovered rapidly and completely and has continued to enjoy his life here, like nothing ever happened to him and not even up to the present moment do I know what was wrong with him.

Joca probably doesn’t even realize that he was on the edge of being dumped on the street after his owner’s death, like many other kitties who weren’t as lucky as he was. Moral and ethical judgments aside, the point is that pet owners can't rely on other people’s
good will when it comes to the future of the pets that outlive them. If pets are considered to be members of the family, a responsible owner should plan ahead for their care if something unforeseen occurs, as a part of the commitment we all accepted the day
we took them in.


Anna said...

Bless you for the wonderful work you do!

Annika M said...

I'm happy my brother and I could give our helping hand to our mom and take her cats when she got seriously ill. They lived with us the rest of their lives. I do know it's not the normal outcome. I've known too many cases just like Joca's. Some people just don't understand pets at all.

Thank you so much for what you do for these sad felines to make them thrive again!