How to Safely Rehome a Cat
Whether it’s because of allergies or behavior issues, life with your cat might not be working out. That’s OK. Here’s how to safely find your cat a new home.
Sometimes things just don’t work out, and that might include the life you planned with your cat. If you’ve reached that point, it’s time to consider rehoming your cat.
Maybe your cat’s run into some behavioral issues that you haven’t been able to fix, or you’ve accepted a new job that requires more travel. Maybe a child or partner in your house has severe allergies.
“Rehoming a pet is never an easy decision. It can be one of the most heartbreaking and stressful times a person can go through,” says Abbie Moore, executive director of Adopt-a-Pet.
For pet parents looking for other living options, Adopt-a-Pet offers its rehome service for free, but they aren't your only option. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider rehoming your cat.
Rehoming a Cat Is a Last Resort
While a cat's misbehavior is one of the most common reasons people opt to rehome, Moore says you should try what you can to fix those issues before looking for a new home.
She tells the story of one family who was close to rehoming its cat after repeated litter box problems. But then the family decided to remove the box’s lid. No more issues.
Cats are “very, very sensitive,” Moore says, so the slightest change might be enough to fix behavior problems.
Medical issues, like urinary tract infections, can manifest themselves in scratching or marking, too. Always start with a veterinary checkup when you’re addressing a behavior problem, Moore says. “There are times when it’s OK to find a good, new home for your cat,” she says.
Cat Rehoming Options
If rehoming is the only choice, Moore says the best option is to give the cat to a friend or family member. You know them, so you can be sure they’ll be good cat owners.
The second-best option is to give your cat to a rescue organization with a proven track record. But rescues often get their cats from area shelters, so they’re often full, Moore says.
That leaves two more options: surrendering the cat to a shelter or giving her to a stranger.
Shelters across the United States are inundated with cats and dogs to the tune of 6.5 million admissions yearly, according to the ASPCA. With such an influx, it can be difficult to find them all new homes.
Moore cautioned against listing your cat on a site like Craigslist. It’s a mixed bag: You can potentially find a suitable parent for your cat, but it can also be “dangerous,” she says. It’s hard to guarantee your cat is going to a loving home where it will fit in well.
Team Cat Rescue, a Canadian foster-based cat rescue, says the process of rehoming a cat can vary from days to months, so you should start looking for a suitable owner as soon as you can. Also, make sure your cat is up-to-date on all its vaccinations and disclose any health or behavior issues to the potential new owner.
Moore recommends using Adopt-a-Pet’s rehoming program. There, you can build an online profile for your cat for potential new owners who will apply.
You can then review the applications and eventually meet the finalists. Adopt-a-Pet will help draw up the legal paperwork, and an adoption fee is either donated to the shelter or organization that referred you or goes toward the Rehome operations.
Effects of Rehoming a Cat
Unfortunately, the rehoming process will likely be hard on the cat, Moore says. They’ll be living in a completely foreign place, and that will take a while to get used to.
If you can, it’s a good idea to bring your cat to its potential new home, Cat Team Rescue says. If any red flags pop up, you can begin looking elsewhere.
When he arrives in his new home, your cat may hide for a week or more, but that’s normal. Moore says cats are so location centered there are tales of cats escaping their new home and finding their way back to their old house. “Be patient with them,” she says.
Once your cat is rehomed, check in with the new owner. They might have questions about their new cat, and there’s no one better to answer them.
Rehoming a cat is rarely easy. But patience and planning can help you ensure your cat finds its way to a loving home that’s a good fit for its needs.