Planning for the Future
None of us likes to think that we may contract an illness that may prevent us from caring for ourselves and our cats, or even die suddenly and unexpectedly. However, it happens. I encourage all pet owners to have a plan on what to do with your pets should you be unable to care for them. A will is good, but sometimes by the time the will is read, someone has had to make quick decisions about where the pets go. Unfortunately, sometimes that decision isn't the same as the one you or I would make. See the article "Who's Who" in the notebook.
Remember that owning a cat is a lifetime commitment - and cats can live up to 15 or 20 years, occasionally even more. By the time kitty reaches this advanced age, there are likely to be extra veterinary bills as age starts affecting his health. This is something you should be prepared for long before you decide to get that cute little kitten!!
My sales contract for your kitty contains a provision requiring that I have "first right of refusal" if you should ever need or want to give up your cat. What this really means is, I want to take the responsibility of taking the cat back and, if possible, finding it a new home if you can no longer provide a suitable home for whatever reason. Under no circumstances do I want one of these cats I have raised to end up in a shelter, where it could be euthanized because there isn't enough space. It's much easier for me, with my contacts, to find homes for Somalis than it is for shelters. Instead of asking a grudging relative to keep the cat after you have passed on, I encourage you to find me and let me take the responsibility. I caused the cat to be brought into this world, I will be responsible for its care if anything happens to its owners. If one of your relatives does want the cat, they need to know they will be bound by the contract as well. So make sure my contact information is easily accessible, and communicate it to your friends or family who may have to make quick decisions for you.
This concept doesn't just apply to a situation where the owner is ill or has died. Occasionally a pet will develop a behavior problem, usually from some kind of stress or illness, and a pet owner will feel they have tried everything and are unwilling to live with the cat any longer. In this situation, I would also want the owner to contact me before turning the cat over to a shelter (where cats with behavior problems are usually euthanized right away) or putting it up for adoption. First, I may be able to offer some advice and suggestions on how the problem can be fixed. If not, or if the suggestions don't work, I am certainly willing to take the cat back and do what I can to fix the behavior problem and find it a new home.
With all this in mind, I plan to keep contact with everyone who gets a cat from me over the years. In addition, I am always available by phone or email to answer questions and give suggestions if problems arise. I know many more vets and cat owners and breeders, whose cumulative experience can be so useful, than most pet owners ever will. Of course, if you call in the middle of the night I may not answer - but call anyway.