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Age and adopting pets

 
master gardener
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We just took in another foundling. A black kitten between 6 and 8 weeks.  I am 70. My wife is a few years younger.  That means we will be around 85 when it dies at the age of 15 or so (it just wrapped itself around my foot and began pedaling....it may die younger).

Is there an age when we should stop taking strays in ?   I hate the idea of it losing its caretaker. I also hate the idea of turning my back on an animal in need.  In this case. It would have died.  Opinions?  Are there options we haven't thought of?
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Michael
 
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I don't have an answer...we have two recent stray kittens that overlapped with our fifteen year old cat briefly and being seventy also I see what you are thinking.  These kittens gave us no choice though

Our Vietnam vet neighbor has three dogs, two cats, some of them very recent rescues in addition to his old timers and his health is failing.  He is starting to ask around for someone to look out for them if something happens to him...quite a large group to need homes suddenly.
 
John F Dean
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With the two of us, we have agreed to stop having livestock when we reach 85 or one of us dies. Still, that leaves pets to deal with.
 
master gardener
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This isn't the happiest of topics, but most definitely one I think needs to be considered, realistically. I'm 56, so I'm not quite there yet. On the other hand, we are both disabled, and bikers, and... well... we buried a couple friends, last month, who died together, on their bike. They were only a few years older than us. So, since life - and death - happens, it's something I think about, occasionally, and we have a lot of critters, now. The CCC (Current Critter Count) includes 8 goats, 11 chickens, 2 ducks, 2 guinea pigs, and 2 puppies. The oldest are the guinea pigs, at 4yrs old (which is at least half - 3/4 their normal life span), and next is our first goat buck, at a 'whopping' 3.5 yrs old. So, they're mostly all babies - and we're breeding the daiiry/fiber goats, starting this Wednesday. The general life expectancy of goats varies by breed between 10 and 19yrs, with the bucks outlive the does, sometimes by several years, and our younger bucks are only 6months old, so we could be looking at a 20yr commitment, there.

Anyway, what's weird is that two things popped into my email inbox, almost at the same time, this morning; notification of this thread, and my daily from Dr Becker, on this topic: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/10/25/pet-care-after-death-of-owner.aspx
 
pollinator
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I have this beautiful quote about horses, but it could be applicable to some other domesticated animals...

"If you are fond of a horse and wish to do him a real favour - train him well. Teach him good manners, good habits, both in the stable and under the saddle. You need never worry about the future of such a horse if for any reason you may have to part with him. You assure him of friends wherever he goes. Perhaps the greatest kindness you can do any horse is to educate him well." - Tom Roberts - The Young Horse

It's easier to do with more traineable animals, like horses and dogs, but you can raise a decent cat too (congratulations on your new kitty!).

Another way to look at it, is having pets that simply don't live very long. Of which, rats are maybe the most intelligent. Their life expectancy is rather short - usually 2-4 years, up to six.
They're fascinating, playful, affectionate, not very expensive.

It's always good to have a network of friends who will know what to do with your animals if you can't take care of them anymore.
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Something as simple as writing up a care sheet for your animals can be a big help to anyone who may take care of them later, whether that be a pet sitter or new owner. The two cats that used to belong to a family friend before she died suddenly have some... quirks that we had to figure out the hard way. One of them doesn't eat wet food or in the presence of other cats, so she needs a bowl of dry food in another room when the others are eating. The other has the perpetual zoomies and is terrified of thunderstorms. She is usually good at using a litter box, but sometimes during storms she will pee herself. Not a big deal, but it would have been nice to know that before she peed on me. I think the more information you make available about your pets, the more likely they are to find a good home, too. Just my thoughts on this.
 
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Maybe at some point, you don't adopt pets that others would love to have... Easily adoptable pets.  Don't keep letting your cats have kittens. Don't bring home a parrot because they live forever....

But what you're describing: rescuing animals from bad situations, especially where they would die anyway or are suffering, or being adopted by a stray that you spay/neuter... seems to me you are adding love, peace and a light in a life where there was none. Even if that animal ends up in a bad situation at some point in the future, after you are gone, you didn't create that, you delayed that.

Maybe if your health starts to fail, and you can't care for the animals you have as they deserve, you start rehoming. ..
 
John F Dean
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Hi Sonja,

Yes, there is a price to be paid for staying at my house ... a trip to the vet.  Annually, just after the new year, all go to the vet for rabies and a check up as well.
 
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I'm in my late 50's.  I try not to live my life worrying about how much time I have left.  Who knows what will happen in 10, 15, 20, 25 years?  My own view is, keep adopting, do your absolute best to give them the best life possible, and let the cards fall as they may.  Maybe, probably, as you said, that one would have died.  If you can only give it 6 good months, is that not better than letting it die miserably, sad and alone, right now?  Maybe a kitten you save gets leukemia (hopefully not) and the year you gave it when you were 94 years old was a wonderful year for you both, and maybe the last year either of you had?

Not at all trying to invalidate your question, because it's an important one.  I just think there are too many variables to consider, and each person can only do their best, and hope it's good enough.  And I'm glad you adopted the kitten.
 
pollinator
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I don't want pets full-time and also don't want outdoor cats. But I would like to have a cat sometimes. So, I thought I could foster old cats from the shelter that are on their last leg.
 
pollinator
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Haven't read all replies, so sorry if this is repetitive.

I think the answer to when to stop taking in new animals is more a matter of whether you have someone willing to take them on after you pass than anything else.  Of course, there's the possibility of them suffering if you pass without anyone realizing it for some time, so that is another factor to consider.  If you consistently have other people around you that is a small risk.  

I'd seriously consider asking your kids, neighbors and friends to find people willing to take your pets in the event they out-live you.  If you can't find anyone (or enough people) then perhaps you should consider not accepting any more new pets at some point.  That point will be a matter of your health, your spouse's health, and the likely remaining life expectancy of the animal being considered.  

And keep in mind that if you wind up in a nursing home it is unlikely you will be able to bring your pet(s) with you.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Andrew,

You raise some interesting points.  To kick it up a notch, what happens when a person living alone dies. How many days will it be before someone discovers?
 
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Carla Burke wrote:
Anyway, what's weird is that two things popped into my email inbox, almost at the same time, this morning; notification of this thread, and my daily from Dr Becker, on this topic: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/10/25/pet-care-after-death-of-owner.aspx



Nice article, Thanks for it
 
Andrew Mayflower
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Andrew,

You raise some interesting points.  To kick it up a notch, what happens when a person living alone dies. How many days will it be before someone discovers?



Depends on where they are.  Sometimes it's a matter of hours.  But there have been cases of someone dying in a busy apartment complex with many neighbors who still weren't found for weeks or even months.  Often it's not until someone complains of the horrible stench of a body decomposing.  If you are rural, or even just in a detached single family suburban home it's quite possible to not be noticed for years, until the county comes around for tax delinquency.  A lot depends on how social you are.  If you keep to yourself it will take longer to get noticed than if you're a social butterfly.  

If I were living alone, and at an age that I felt my own mortality creeping up on me, I'd probably try to find a friend, neighbor, or relative that would be willing to call me at least every few days and swing by to check up, or have the sheriff do a welfare check if I don't answer.  Ideally you'd want someone coming by daily and making sure you are still able to continue to care for the animals, but the logistics of that can be quite challenging.  Not to mention some people just simply aren't interested in being that social.  And folks that live out in the country are usually there because they don't want to interact with other people constantly.  

My wife is also a few years younger than me, and I expect I'll go before her.  But, either way, we have 4 kids and with any luck we'll have at least a half dozen, and perhaps a dozen or more, grandkids, so there's a good chance we'll have enough family surrounding us by the time we're in our 70's and 80's that we won't have to worry about pets suffering when the second one dies.  I'm 43 and she's turning 40 in January, so that's also several decades away for us.  Heck, by then we should have a number of great-grandkids.  But still something to be aware of.
 
Carla Burke
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I think if it gets down to just me, and I'm not moving around as well, I'll be selling off (or eating) the majority of the livestock. Pets are a different story. I know that 2 of my kids will step up, for the dogs - but again, that assumes I'm found quickly. A viable option is the 'help I've fallen and can't get up' lanyards. If you don't respond, they send first responders and call the designated people, at the same time. There are also tags for keychainss, so that if something happens while your not at home, it alerts others that you have critters at home.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Carla,

I know this may be twisted, but I am far more accepting of my death than I am of the suffering and death of pets and livestock.
 
Carla Burke
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Yup. So am I.
 
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