Are you worried you’ll have to leave your cat behind if you have to move to assisted living? Worry no more! As long as you’re able to care for your pet, many assisted living homes welcome cats and other small pets. However, it’s important to understand assisted living pet policies and how best to care for a cat in assisted living before making the switch. Here’s what Kitty in the City wants you to know.
Considering Your Own Needs
First things first. Before thinking about your pet, you’ll need to have a plan in place for your own well-being, including how you’ll pay for your new residence. For example, will funds from the sale of your current home offset your care facility costs? If so, you’ll need to take care of the to-dos that ensure you sell your home as quickly and for as much as possible, such as making necessary repairs, boosting your curb appeal, and hiring a real estate agent. Or do you already have the funds needed in your bank account? In that case, consider asking a loved one to be a joint owner who will take care of your housing payments each month.
Once the financial aspect is taken care of, it’s time to start looking for your assisted living community. Make sure the facility you choose has the support and amenities you’re looking for. The right assisted living facility will have nutritious food available, fun activities that allow seniors to socialize, and a supportive staff on call to help with medication management, cleaning, and laundry services.
Keep in mind that if you have a serious medical issue and need 24/7 supervised care, then assisted living may not meet your needs. In this case, a skilled nursing home will be your best option where trained professionals will be available to tend to any medical issues. Carefully research which skilled nursing facilities are in your budget, and read reviews to determine your preferred choice.
Common Assisted Living Pet Restrictions
While the number of pet-friendly assisted living communities is increasing, many place limitations on the pets that residents may bring. Common restrictions in assisted living include:
- The number of pets allowed. Most communities allow no more than one or two pets per resident.
- The type of pets allowed. Dogs, cats, birds, and fish are the pets most commonly allowed in assisted living.
- Pet size. It’s easier to find an assisted living community with a small dog than a large one. Since assisted living homes have limited space, many restrict larger pets.
- Pet breed. Primarily a concern for dog owners, some breeds are prohibited by facilities and/or local ordinances.
- Pet health status. Pets are typically required to be current on vaccinations and in overall good health.
- Use this guide to help locate assisted living facilities in Tampa.
How to Choose an Assisted Living Home
What makes an assisted living community a great home for your cat? While felines are fairly easy to please, there are some amenities that make assisted living purrfectly pleasant for pet cats, such as:
- Windows with ledges to perch on or an enclosed patio.
- A tucked-away space for a litter box — or room for litter box furniture!
- Hard flooring or cat-friendly carpeting.
- On-site assistance with pet care or the ability to hire outside help.
Caring for Cats in Assisted Living
Cats are great pets for seniors because they’re content living indoors and don’t require tons of exercise. However, they’re not completely low-maintenance either. Caring for a cat requires daily play, feeding, and litter box changes. That can be hard to keep up with as you grow older, but the right products can simplify cat care in your new home.
- Automatic feeders dispense just the right amount to maintain your cat’s healthy weight.
- Self-cleaning litter boxes filter waste from litter so all you have to do is empty the bin.
- A Litter Genie is a convenient, odor-free way to dispose of soiled litter.
- A cat tree provides a safe place to scratch and a comfy place to lounge.
- If your cat has special dietary needs, make sure you’re getting them the right food.
Helping Your Cat Transition to a New Home
The biggest challenge isn’t finding a cat-friendly assisted living home — it’s making the move! Change is stressful for cats, and your feline friend will need extra support throughout the transition.
While it’s important to see your vet and update vaccinations before moving, don’t forget to care for your cat’s emotional needs, too. While cats are reserved with their feelings, there’s a lot you can learn about how your cat is feeling when you understand feline communication and body language. Dilated pupils, flattened ears, and hiding are signs of an anxious cat, but if your cat isn’t acting like himself and you’re not sure why, a session with a professional animal communicator will help you understand your cat’s needs.
Finding the right assisted living home is hard enough, but for pet owners, it can be even more challenging. Luckily for feline fanciers, cats are one of the most common pets found at assisted living facilities! Once you’ve found the right assisted living community for you and your pet, start thinking about how you can help your cat (and you!) settle in comfortably.
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