Saying goodbye to your pet shouldn’t be an option to move into aged care

Rolf is nearly 80 years old and cannot imagine the pain of those who must give up their pets to move into an aged care facility. He has no intention of doing so without his four cats!
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I am 78 years old and came to Australia from Germany in 1969. I lived in Sydney and then moved to Perth, where my children were born. We later returned to Europe and eventually came back to Australia and settled in Hobart.

Sadly, I lost my wife to Alzheimer’s a few years ago. I now live alone with my four cats, Layla, Ruby, Sofia and Anita. They are my family and I would rather die than part with them.

Layla and Ruby are Burmese cats, Sofia is a little Tonkinese and Anita is a British Shorthaired cat. Anita is still a kitten (turning 1 year old soon) and she’s the boss! If I don’t get up to feed the cats supper, Anita sits in front of the TV till I do! Rubi is the clown of family – if you are depressed, she would wake the dead!

When I get up in the morning, they are there waiting for me. They pick their time, taking turns snuggling up to me. We also take afternoon naps together. Sofia snuggles up into my chest and looks at me and massages my hand with her paws. She wants to constantly touch me and smooch me, which I love.

The cats lick and clean me as well – a sign that they accept me totally and trust me. I am determined to keep away from nursing homes because I don’t want to leave my cats. I have my cats in my will, and in the event of my passing, they will go to a rescue centre to find a good home.

Compared to Europe, Australia is too restrictive when it comes to living with pets. It upsets me to think people have to leave their pet behind when they move into aged care. I can’t imagine what it feels like when their pets have to be euthanised because they can’t find homes. That is dreadful.

I’ve heard stories about people who are about to die and a week before, the house cat sits on their bed accompanying them as if the animal already knows. The cat gives comfort. Some people have died with their hand on the cat.

My vision is that every nursing home should have pets who visit the patients each day. They will brighten the life of older people significantly.

Rolf , TAS

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