Some of you remember when we started Love & Cuddles Pet Respite Care. It was a huge success! We loved the program and planned to expand it. Then, the Covid pandemic hit, and we had to make tough decisions. Catnip Casa is an all-volunteer, foster-home-based organization. Suddenly, many resources evaporated.
Our respite care pets came to us only through vetted social service programs for seniors with pets. Many of those programs cut back or temporarily suspended services. Medical care for pets and people was offered only when it was a necessity. Foster homes and volunteers were not available due to illness and quarantines. Plus, our food and medical supplies cost a lot more and became harder to get. So, we were forced to give priority to caring for our senior and special needs kitties for over two years.
Respite care is intended to be a temporary care situation during medical care or family emergencies. Unfortunately, we also had to be prepared for some to become permanent residents. Anyone can experience unexpected challenges to recovery from medical procedures, but it’s more likely with senior citizens. Also, many pets of senior owners are seniors with health problems that may render them unadoptable if their person can no longer care for them.
Our guests came to stay with us while their person needed medical care. Some of them are pictured on this page. Their parents didn’t have anyone to watch them, and they could not afford boarding costs. Yet, their pet was often the only companion they had left. How would you feel to face giving up your beloved pet or foregoing needed medical care? It happens more often than most people know. Going home is always the goal of any respite care program. Keeping the family together is better for the person and the pet. The need for this type of program is high in all communities.
Still, as we move forward, we made a very tough decision not to restart the program. We’ll miss the wonderful guests, but the program comes with the risk that some of the guests return to us (like CAT, Vinnie, and Tiger) or are unable to go home when their person doesn’t recover sufficiently to care for them. And, not all of the unfortunate pets will be candidates for adoption. We are grateful that some lucky kitties found a new forever family.
Sadly, the continually increasing costs and lower numbers of volunteers and foster homes mean we cannot afford to add to the population or devote the time to care for more animals even when it’s temporary. The need is high, and we seldom had an empty bed. However, we want to see more programs like this develop to fill the gap.
No animal should end up in a shelter just because their human needs to have surgery or take care of a family emergency. They have a home and someone who loves them. It’s also terribly hard on the owner. Many people do not recover well and become depressed after having no choice but to give up a beloved pet through no fault of their own. So, we gladly consult with other organizations and communities that want to start similar programs.