Last week, I talked about long-term planning for Kitty from the sugar mom and dad perspective. It is equally important for a potential long-term care giver to weigh the options to make sure Kitty gets continued care and lots of love. I am a “more the merrier” person, and my mom says I have a talent for finding the strays and taking them in. (I do. I just hear a sad story and turn into mush; well, it does not even have to be that sad.) However, there are some questions to consider if you are going to take on a sugar baby.
The first scenario is a well-planned handoff such as a will or if an owner needs long-term care such as a rehabilitation center in the event of a major illness for recovery. This would generally allow you more time to learn about Kitty’s care and make personal considerations. First, do you have the time and resources to care for Kitty? I am not talking about just money, as feline diabetes is relatively affordable to treat. Is your schedule going to allow a solid routine for Kitty allowing for proper testing at the same times every day? Do you have young children or other pets that may not be compatible with a special needs kitty? Do you have room for Kitty’s “stuff” such as furniture, toys, food stuff, medications, etc.? If you live in a condo or other type of deed-restricted community, it is important to know if there are limits on the number of pets or extra rent in the case of an apartment. Do you really like cats in general? There may be more things to consider in your personal situation such as spouse’s perspective, your short-term and long-term plans such as travel, career, or even potential relocation. It is going to be hard to spend a month touring Europe if you have pets to worry about, for example.
Ideally, if a friend or family members asks if you would be willing to take care of Kitty for a major life event or in the case of the owner’s demise, our first instinct is to say, “Yes, of course.” That is great if you already have experience with special needs kitties, have the resources, and know that you can be a stable caregiver. However, it is better to say no if you do not WANT to do it. It is better to say no if you have made plans for yourself that would not be conducive to having a special needs kitty. It is better to say no if your heart is not really in it. As a fur mama, I can say 100%, I would much rather someone say no if they have doubts about taking on one of my babies. Saying no when appropriate is not a bad thing. The goal is to get Kitty the best possible next home should the need arise, and if you really do not think you can do it or do not want to, that does not make you selfish or a bad person. I personally would love to empty out my local shelter and take them ALL in, but that is not feasible financially, and I could not take care of so many at a time while giving them each the love and attention they need.
If none of the above applies to you, or you can work around your obstacles, rehoming can be a very rewarding experience. If Kitty’s mom or dad is close to you, taking care of Kitty can be a comfort to them and you. In the case of long-term care or demise, we always want to do SOMETHING to help or comfort. That is why we make casseroles and desserts. We do not know what else to do. Taking care of Kitty is a worthy, noble, and practical way to help if you can. To make a transition as smooth as possible, take the time (if possible), to learn about Kitty’s illness, other needs, dietary restrictions, testing, and insulin. If time permits, learn how to test and inject Kitty. If you have time to plan, go along during Kitty’s next veterinary visit. You can meet the vet and ask questions there as well. Of course, this is in an ideal world where we know the future and can prepare.
The second scenario is emergency rehoming in the case of a sudden severe illness or sudden demise. We do not want to think about it, but we have to. Sometimes things happen, and someone has to pick up the pieces. You should still consider your personal situation, talk to your spouse, and deal with any other obstacles you may have; you just have to do it faster! My rehomed animals have always been on an emergent basis, and it has worked out pretty well despite the lack of preparation. Most family members left to rehome a pet will give you everything that belongs to Kitty including their own litter box and all of their supplies. That is extremely helpful for both you and Kitty. If the rehoming is emergent, it is important to get veterinary records as soon as possible just to understand Kitty’s health status. Even if you are going to continue with the same vet, it is a good idea to at least read through their records so you can ask questions or be aware of anything you need to keep a close eye on.
When bringing Kitty home, the best piece of advice I can give you: If they have their own blankets and/or furniture, DO NOT WASH THEM unless soiled. Kitty will have a much easier time and be less stressed if they have their stuff which still smells like them and the people they have been with. I also like to start them out in a smaller area. I usually choose the master bedroom area, as I can keep food and litter in there, let Kitty get comfortable with the house a bit at a time. Leave the doors open, and let them explore as they are comfortable. They are going to be scared and possibly growl and hiss at you or other pets. If you consider how you might handle being picked up and moved to a new house with new people with no notice or reasoning, you can see why Kitty would be upset and stressed out! (Growling while moving has become a thing for ME, let alone the fur babies!) If possible, try to keep their testing, insulin, and feeding routine as close as possible to what they are used to. Having access to their diabetes journals will help with this, and will also make transition for Kitty a little easier. The goal is to change as little as possible at first while they get used to their new home, and make small incremental changes as needed over time thereafter.
Understand that there will be unforeseen hurdles to deal with. You should have a good veterinarian that you can call to get help or answer questions. You should know where the closest AAHA accredited emergency veterinarian office is located. I highly recommend joining the Feline Diabetes Support Group on FB even if you are a future, rather than present, sugar parent. They have tons of information, and a chat function for immediate help. Most importantly, when an issue inevitably creeps up, handle it the best you can, understand that things are going to happen, and absolute perfection in all things is not a requirement. Even under the best of circumstances, we sometimes have to wing it.
*Shipping Update: If you have ordered supplies online or are planning to, shipping is pretty close to on-time at most vendors. Some will have longer processing time in order to practice proper social distancing, but it seems domestic shipping and shipping from some international locations is improving dramatically as they vendors and shippers catch up.