About a year and a half ago I took in a feral kitten as a foster. She was trapped as part of a larger trap-neuter-return project, and I agreed to let her recover at my place after her spay surgery. In her short time with me she became best friends with my senior female cat, and long story short I ended up adopting a feral kitten. Her rehabilitation has been a difficult process and while she is a completely normal lap cat with me, she has a very hard time with other people. Other people completely terrify her and socialization is our biggest hurdle even after a year and a half.
One day I had a horrible realization. If I were to get into a car accident tomorrow, my cats would most likely be euthanized if they were taken to a shelter. My senior cat is fifteen years old and she has some health issues. Seniors are usually the last to get picked, and pets with health problems are always the hardest to find homes for. Then there is my younger cat, who would become so afraid when people came in to my apartment to collect them that she would lash out and attack. She would instantly be deemed “unadoptable” and wouldn’t last 3 days at the shelter.
Most people think that if something were to happen to them, their friends or family would take their pets in and make sure that they were well cared for. Unfortunately for me, my friends are either allergic to cats or have pets of their own and could not take on two special needs pets who would need extra care.
So what does someone in my situation do? There are rescues and sanctuaries out there that will agree to take your pets upon your death. But just my luck, none in Michigan. So I started talking to my friends and family again. I asked around for people who had a basement or a barn or an isolated area where my cats could spend some time while other arrangements were made. And then once I found someone, we discussed what kind of arrangements would be made for my cats. I didn’t want them to go to a shelter. I preferred that they stay together to reduce the trauma on either of them. I understood that I may not be around to find the perfect home for them, but I needed to find someone who I trusted to do the best that they could to place my cats, and make sure that person knew my wishes.
Finally we put everything in writing. I entered into a Pet Guardian Agreement with my cats’ alternate guardian. I was able to lay out all of my wishes in the documents and feel confident that if the time ever came, the alternate guardian would remember what we discussed and know what to do with my cats. I now have peace of mind in knowing that if I was in a car accident and died, or became incapacitated, someone will be there to step in and take care of my cats instead of letting them get turned over to a local shelter and euthanized.