All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

10 Cats Homeless after Owner Dies

Hello, Marie.
I always enjoy your column in the Orange County Register.  I wonder if you can help me with a situation. My mother passed away recently. She left around ten cats that she fed.  All of them have been fixed, but only three are friendly with people. One of them we've adopted, and we'll probably take another. But that leaves about eight kitties who are shy but could be rehabilitated to be pets, I think.  I don't want to take them to the local shelter since it's overloaded with cats, and these shy kitties would not get the opportunity to get used enough to people to be adopted.  I checked with one animal rescue group, but it couldn't help since its spots for cats, too, are filled.I'd appreciate any suggestions. 
P.S. We're continuing to feed the cats at my mother's home, but will need to resolve this as we're planning to rent it out.
(Not the cats or person from post; example only)

Dear Kathy,Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of your mother.  It sounds as though she was a very compassionate woman to have cared for all of these neighborhood cats. It is very difficult to find homes for kitties who aren’t exactly social, but there ARE homes out there.  

Alas, the lack of time you have may make this a near impossible task.  Further, the rough economic climate has made daily operation and just staying afloat really difficult for most rescue facilities, so I wouldn’t hold out hope for finding space available.  Perhaps if you were willing to donate a certain amount of money for each cat, you’ll have better luck.
Did your mother plan – financially - for the care of these animals after her death?  Sometimes people will leave a certain amount of money in their estate that is earmarked for the care of pets.  If there are such funds available, you might want to look into an organization like the Bluebell Foundation for Cats in Laguna Beach.  They provide a home for cats whose owners have passed away, however there is a fee involved and it is on a per cat basis.  You can find out more about the Bluebell Foundation for Cats by visiting
The most effective way to find a home for pets is by posting information on your social networks and asking all your friends to "share" the info on their "walls", etc, and by circulating emails to your family, friends, and coworkers.  Electronic sharing is an amazing tool because your animal-loving friends will circulate the information to their animal-loving friends, and so on.  Be sure to include photos and bios for each cat.  Before you know it, the news regarding these little guys will be everywhere and people will write to you and offer to take a kitty or two.
Just be sure to screen potential adopters.  I don’t want to worry you too much, but there are individuals out there who pose as perfect people, when in reality, they are doing nothing more than rounding up domestic pets for sale to research labs.  Technically, this is a violation of current law; however, it still happens on a regular basis.  When you have a chance, do a quick Internet search for “bunchers” and “Class B” licenses for brokers and dealers in the animal research business.  Once you are armed with knowledge, you will be able to make sure these cats are going to good homes instead of laboratories. In the meantime, spend as much time as possible with all of these cats.  If you can, try and pet them or brush them daily.  Give them treats.  Do your best to help make them more social.  The more “adoptable” they are, the faster they will get into good homes. This unfortunate situation should remind all pet owners that planning for your pets in the event of your death is extremely important.  Don’t assume that your family members will take your animals.  Often, relatives just aren’t in a position to do so; and bringing a pet into a family is a personal decision and should not be imposed on someone else if they are unable or unwilling.
Talk to your family members and/or friends ahead of time.  Find out if they would willingly and happily accept your pets into their home, if the need arises.  And be sure to set aside some money that would cover vet care and daily food, etc. for your animals.  It is not going too far to set up a pet trust.  If you do this, then you know your furry, feathered, or scaly friends will be loved and cared for after you are gone.  There are many attorneys who will gladly add animal related items to wills and living trusts and it is never too early to get these documents put together.   

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