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There are supportive articles on ‘Care Topics’. There is very little about the down side.


When parents can no longer keep the pets fed and clean, when parents want to move in with caregivers and bring their pets, or when they are faced with a move to a facility that doesn’t take pets, the down side is very hard to cope with. Cat litters average four to six kittens, with a new litter four times a year. Cats and dogs can cost hundreds of dollars to desex and vaccinate. Parents can build up to a dozen pets, particularly cats, and floors can even need total replacement if they are impregnated with cat urine. Accidents and illnesses can run into even more hundreds of dollars, which may not be there in the budget – vetinary costs are not government-subsidised.


The usual comment is to ‘re-home’ the pets. Great if you can do it, but the numbers involved make it very difficult, particularly for cats. The next comment is to find a ‘no-kill shelter’. Some quick searching makes it clear that no-kill shelters do their best to ‘re-home’, but have long waiting lists and can still rate as no-kill with a 10% kill rate. The waiting lists mean that if you are desperate, ‘no-kill’ is a nice idea but not a realistic option. A cat or an unwanted litter of kittens used to be put in a pillow case and drowned in a bucket. A quick death and not so cruel, but not at all acceptable to many posters.


Some posters say that a pet is a commitment for life. If a pet will help a 70 year old, is this reasonable? Should we stop our elderly parents from taking on a pet that they are unlikely to outlive themselves? Is the ethical commitment to a pet the same as the commitment to a child?


I would really welcome some discussion on this topic, which bothers me a lot.

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im cool with the pillow case and bucket thing . FGS , stop baiting me ..
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We took in my mom's pet dog. He's a smallish schnauzer mix and is somewhat well trained (he can be a bit...um...vocal...at times). My mom was living with my brother and his two (very poorly trained) large dogs along with the little schnauzer. Since my brother didn't take very good care of the house and dogs, and my mom physically couldn't, the house was absolutely filthy. Dog fur so thick on the carpet you couldn't even tell what color it was. Dog pee on the walls. It was gross. The poor schnauzer had to spend all day locked in the bedroom because my brother's larger dogs would bully him. He would scratch and cry to be let out. He was covered in fleas and had scratched large patches of his fur off. It was heartbreaking seeing my mom and the poor little dog in that condition. When I moved my mom out here to my house, I of course brought the poor little schnauzer. He's made a great recovery, has a beautiful shiny black coat, and is a happy little dog who loves going on hikes with me. He still brings my mom a lot of joy, and in the larger picture of taking care of my mom, adding on the little dog isn't that much extra.
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Pam, I agree there needs to be a Plan if the elder should pass on, someone who will gladly take in the pet.

My sig other's son and his wife love cats, so they would take care of our cat if something should ever happen to us. And they know how to handle the crazyness of a white/ginger male cat, since they have two themselves.

Sig and I are in our early 70's, so we tried to plan ahead. We always had 2 to 4 cats, so there was cat companionship for the cats. When we were down to one cat who was 17 at the time, we adopted a beautiful 12 year old cat from the no-kill county shelter. That added another 2 years to that 17 years old life, he just loved her :)

But once he passed, the now 14 year old cat needed a companion cat. We were back and forth to the same shelter, unfortunately the older senior cats available were to go to a home where the cat would be the only "child".

We eventually got an 8 year old white/ginger cat. He's a handful, funny as all heck, even when he is sleeping, we are always laughing. At 8 years he might outlive us if he doesn't do himself in with his stunts, but if anything should happen to sig and myself, that spoiled brat will go to a good home :) Oh, the 14 year old cat, the jury is still out if she likes him or not.

A note, our county animal shelter charges no adoption fee if a senior citizen adopts a cat who is 9 years old or older.
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I sort of think that if the elder wants a pet in their later years, someone they love needs to agree to take on the pet if something happens. Many of the MC and NH s here have pets that live in the home.. they kind of "free range" around the place, and many elders love them. My mom loves my DDs dog, and when DD and puppers moved out Mom missed them both. So hubs and I got a slightly bigger small dog ( moms eyesight is getting worse) She loves our puppers too, and Chloe spends a lot of time just snuggling with her on the couch. But we know Chloe is OUR pet to be responsible for if something happens. I know I would have felt different if Mom and dad had moved in with a ton of untrained cats.. But Chloe brings so much happiness to Mom and is that it was worth it. IS it the same as for a child,, no.. but it probably for a much shorter time. You are correct it is harder to rehome a cat.. they seem to a dime a dozen.. probably because most people don't pay big bucks for cats.. but the monetary investment for a dog ( esp if its a purebread or designer dog) is a lot more
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After I posted this a couple of days ago, this morning’s news (Australia) has a shock horror story about failed racehorses being slaughtered for pet food, with a ‘feel good’ twist about people adopting a horse in spite of feed and vet care costing $4000 a year. On the flip side, the RSPCA is quoted as saying “There is a ‘fantasy’ that all retired racehorses will be ‘re-homed’. It’s delusional to suggest that a fairy tale ending is possible when around 8,500 horses are exiting racing every year.” There is an association that tries to re-home failed racing greyhounds, which at least are smaller than a horse!

An ageing-care poster recently referred to the ‘sacred friendship’ with a pet, which surely is verging on blasphemy. There are huge differences in opinions on this, with Obligation and Guilt about pets almost as strong as caring for parents. It's interesting that there have been no FOG comments so far in this discussion.
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I could not believe when I read on here recently of pets being allowed in Nursing Homes ?? This particular post was concern for a mother, in an NH,who was physically hurting her cat (the poster said the cat would be re-homed) Like most Medicaid NHs, two share a room. Where does the litter box go? Anyway, I know that pets brought a great deal of joy into my and my families lives. DH and I lost our last two kitties last year and we miss them terribly. But, we're hesitant on getting another pet at our age. I agree though, pets are not people, they're far better than us.
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Here's a funny story about elderly and their pets.

We had an elderly relative who had a dog he adored. He had cancer and stopped his treatments, and knew that he wouldn't last long. He told his kids that when he died, he wanted beloved dog to be buried with him (his wife had died the year before).

Problem was, dog outlived him! Relative died and his son was supposed to put the dog down so he could be buried --- the son looked at dog and said "Man, you didn't do anything wrong, I can't just shoot you" and ended up taking the dog home to live out his days with him lol!

I still chuckle over this, and it's been 7 or 8 years ago ; )
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I'm with you, cwillie. I've read of some awful situations on here where people take in the elder's untrained animals (it's usually multiple animals). Even if they are trained, it's a responsibility that I wouldn't take on.

People are doing plenty already to have their elder move in with them. I don't understand the sentiment that the pets "mean so much to Mother," so the additional burden of should be taken on. Why should it be all about what Mother wants?
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I think that often the pets were brought into the home when the seniors were younger, it isn't unusual for pampered dogs and cats to live 15 or 20 years (or more!) and during that time there can be a lot of changes nobody anticipated. I grew up on a farm and though we loved our pets there was never any thought given to spending money on vet care if they became ill, it's one of the reasons I will never bring an animal into my home - sorry, but I can't quite wrap my head around the attitude that pets are people too.
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