Pet-friendly assisted living for seniors with a cat
For many seniors, having a pet can be highly beneficial, for both the physical and mental health. Numerous studies have confirmed that seniors who have a pet are more active, presenting a lower risk of cognitive decline and memory impairment. Considering the associated benefits, more and more assisted living facilities have started to accept cat owners. They have developed targeted services and amenities, taking into the account the unique challenges pets might bring. Today, more and more assisted living centers are becoming pet-friendly, welcoming seniors and their furry friends.
What are the benefits of owning a cat in an assisted living facility?
As mentioned above, owning a pet might help seniors stay more active. It has also been determined that pets give older adults an increased sense of purpose. If you were to ask a cat owner about the reasons for which they get up in the morning, they will mention their pets. The companionship guaranteed by pets is valued, helping seniors feel less alone. A cat might also help with the grief process, facilitating the subsequent healing and return to normal living.
Research has confirmed the benefits of owning a cat as well. It seems that people who have such pets present a lower risk of heart attacks. They might also be more interested in socialization, even when they are suffering from conditions associated with cognitive decline, such as dementia. Animal companionship has a positive impact on the senior's mental health, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. With a pet around, loneliness is no longer a risk, with the purring of the cat also having a relaxing effect. The same goes for the actual petting of a cat, which will promote a sense of calm, alleviating stress overall.
The act of petting a cat has been known to have a calming effect, as it elevates both serotonin and dopamine levels. It is a known fact that the presence of a cat can motivate the owner to get off the couch and be more physically active. Even something as simple as playing with a ball can improve one's motor skills. The benefits are seen in the eye-hand coordination, bilateral integration, and strength overall.
We have mentioned that pets are beneficial, as they offer ample opportunities for social interaction. Within the assisted living community, the cat might become a favorite of other residents, enticing them to get their own pet. Moreover, as a cat owner, the senior will interact with a lot of people, such as the pet care coordinator, veterinary doctor, groomer, etc. In this way, he/she will have an entire network of acquaintances, with countless social opportunities. Cats offer their unconditional love, acting as constant companions. As a result, they will bring pure, simple happiness.
Things to consider before moving in assisted living with your cat
The decision to move into assisted living together with your cat should be carefully considered. First and foremost, it is important to ensure that the respective facility is actually pet-friendly. Then, you should inquire about the services and amenities offered, and the associated costs. It is a known fact that pets are expensive, especially as they get older. There are costs related to feeding and grooming, but also the ones regarding veterinary care and medication. All of these expenses must be covered by the owner, so you will need to calculate your budget accordingly.
You should also be prepared to determine what will happen, should you be unable to provide adequate care. Over time, you might experience additional health issues, with limited mobility. It might happen that you will not have the energy or strength to look after your pet. It is worth mentioning that some assisted living facilities might provide such services, such as feeding, grooming, or cleaning up after the animal, but at an extra cost. The best thing you can do is check out the pet-friendly policy before moving into the respective facility. You might also need to purchase a valid insurance policy and make sure that the other residents are in agreement with you having a pet.
From a practical perspective, it is worth considering whether owning a pet will jeopardize the senior's health. For instance, a senior who struggles with balance issues might be at risk of falling because of his/her cat. Cats have a tendency to get between their owner's legs, so the associated risks are obvious. This is the reason why one should train the cat to avoid such behaviors or ensure they have adequate support, such as a cane.
Choosing a cat-friendly assisted living facility
When looking for assisted living communities, it is only normal to inquire about their pet-friendly policy. For many seniors, their cats are not just pets, they have become like family members. This is the main reason why they need to seek out communities where cats are allowed.
As you will see for yourself, there are certain restrictions associated with pet ownership. In many assisted living facilities, seniors are allowed to have a maximum of two cats. They might be required to pay an additional deposit for their pets, with the mention that non-exotic or non-domesticated options are not allowed. Cats must be toilet trained and have no history of aggressive behaviors. If there are too many complaints regarding the noise or behavior, the respective cat may be forced to leave. As a general rule, cat owners must be able to provide a proof of vaccination before the pet comes to live in the respective facility. Last, but not least, they will have to designate a pet caretaker, should something happen to them.
Making the transition from your own home to an assisted living facility is not easy, but having your feline companion might smooth the entire process. However, you have to be realistic and think about how things are going to be. Is your cat house trained and accustomed to living in a small space? Outdoor cats might have a difficult time adjusting to their new indoor environment. What are the requirements for cat owners? It is for the best to know these before making the actual move. You might also think about the necessary care and whether you will be able to provide it. Last, but not least, you will have to consider your budget. You have to be 100% that you can afford the cost of pet ownership.
Pet-friendly assisted living services and amenities for cat owners
You might be happy to discover that many assisted living communities offer pet-related services and amenities. They are going the extra-mile to ensure the comfort and stability of their residents, but one must remember such all these might be available at extra cost.
It often happens that the assisted living facility has a pet coordinator, responsible for supervising the pets. He/she will ensure every cat's well-being, with the help of the owner. As seniors think of their pets as family, it is only normal for them to be treated the same, once they move into an assisted living community. As the case might be, the pet coordinator will clean up after the cat, organize veterinary appointments, and administer medication. They might also interact with the cats and make sure the vaccinations are up to date. If there are things that the senior cannot handle, the pet coordinator will assume such responsibilities.
Some assisted living facilities might also the resident to include a cat tower in his/her living quarters, as this will offer the feline plenty opportunities for playing and climbing. They might even arrange for a payment plan to cover the additional costs, such as the food, preventative care, litter, or medication. The personalized pet care is often available for an extra fee. What happens is that the staff meets the respective cat, learning all about their needs and their owner. They will develop a personalized care plan to include both the cat and his/her pet parent. Regular meetings will be organized to determine whether the resident is able to take care of his/her cat without difficulties.
Questions to ask before moving with a cat into an assisted living community
Assisted living facilities often invite prospective residents to visit their campus and check out their services. During the tour, you might be invited to ask questions, including with regard to the pet-friendly policy. The staff is usually prepared to answer these questions in detail, so that you can determine whether the respective facility is suitable for you or not.
Here are some of the most important questions you might consider asking:
Can you provide some general information on your pet-friendly policy?
Do you provide personalized pet care? Are you offering care plans to target both the owner and his/her pets?
What are the associated costs with having a cat? Do you offer payment plans?
Do you have pet-related restriction? Can you provide examples?
How many cats can a resident have?
Do you have a pet care coordinator? If yes, what are some of his/her responsibilities?
What happens if the other residents are allergic?
What happens when I will no longer be able to care for my cat?
Can I bring a cat tower in my living quarters? What about various cat toys?
Can I include my own cat in a pet therapy program?
Do you provide veterinary care on campus?
What are some of the best cat breeds for seniors
Like with dogs, there are certain cat breeds which are best suited for seniors. For instance, Birman cats like to play but they are not excessively active, offering the perfect balance for older adults. Ragdoll cats, on the other hand, are very relaxed and tend to shower their owner with affection.
Russian blues like to stay close to their owners, without any mischievous acts to worry about. Seniors might also become close to Persian cats, who are known for their affection. They bond with their owners, being loyal above all else. For seniors who prefer active cats, the Burmilla breed is an excellent choice. These cats are known for being active, but also quite affectionate with their owners. No matter which breeds you might prefer, always think about the maintenance and care needs.
How can pet-related agencies help
You might not know this for a fact, but pet-related agencies might help you live within an assisted living facility together with your cat. Some organizations deliver free cat food to seniors and even offer discounted sterilization procedures. Others provide financial aid to cover the cat's medical care, low-cost vaccination, flea control products, etc. All the states have organizations that provide such type of assistance, so be sure to research the options in your own state.
The right cat for a senior
It can be hard to determine which cat is the best, but thinking about a few aspects might help you come closer to a satisfactory decision. Aside from the breed, you might take some time to think about what you want. Do you want a cuddly cat, which also requires minimal maintenance? Or do you prefer a more active companion? Either way, you should make sure that the cat matches your own energy level. Age matters and it is for the best to choose a mature cat, as opposed to a kitten, who might have too much energy to offer.
The pet size must be considered as well. Big cats need more space and they might have special care requirements. Think about the amount of space available and choose a cat in a suitable size. Consider your budget with regard to pet care, including grooming, pet supplies, and veterinary visits. Remember that there are special products that you can purchase to make your life easier, such as a pre-programmed food dispenser or the self-cleaning litter box. Discuss all these issues with the pet care coordinator and make sure to voice any concerns you might have.
Cats are excellent companions for seniors, helping them retain a sense of purpose and feel less alone. Assisted living facilities often accept seniors with cats, recognizing the benefits offered. Before moving into any particular community, it might be a good idea to inquire about their pet-friendly policy and any restrictions that might apply. In the meantime, you can think about the type of cat you would like to have and how you will handle the associated costs. And, remember, cats are usually low maintenance, so they make up for awesome pets for seniors!
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