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If you find yourself responsible for rehoming a cat, you may be overwhelmed by the process. Learning how to rehome a cat, from finding a loving home to taking care of the cat's needs in the meantime, takes time and patience, but there some strategies you can follow to help ease the burden of finding a new forever family.
Rehoming a Cat: First Things First
There are a few scenarios in which a cat may need to be rehomed, with two of the most common occurring when a pet parent has died or can no longer take care of their cat. It's never easy to rehome a pet, particularly under circumstances when everyone — including the cat — is grieving, but before surrendering them to a shelter, consider fostering the cat yourself or ask a trusted relative or friend.
While you look for a new cat family, here are some things you can do to make a cat comfortable in your home:
- Stock up on nutritional cat food.
- Set up a litter box and keep it clean.
- Have fun, safe toys on hand.
- Provide them with cozy bedding.
- Create a safe, enclosed space, such as a corner of a closet or a cardboard box, where they can hide to feel secure.
- Work on slowly introducing the new cat to other household pets.
Once the cat is safe and comfy, you can start your search.
How To Rehome a Cat
Best-case scenario, the cat's original pet parent maintained records of the kitty's medical history, including the name of their veterinarian, food preferences and even the microchip company (this will make changing the contact information much easier). Even without meticulous records, it's easier than you might think to get the cat in tip-top shape for adoption.
Even if you have medical records, take the cat to the vet's office for a wellness check, including vaccine updates and prescription refills if necessary. Ideally, bring them to their current vet's office, but taking them to your own vet is just fine, too. Ask for hard copies of the cat's records and bring them with you when you meet with interested adopters.
While you're there, consider having the cat spayed or neutered if they aren't already. Spaying and neutering will increase the cat's chances of being adopted because, as the ASPCA pointed out, these procedures eliminate pregnancy and greatly reduce the chances of certain illnesses, among other benefits. Neutering in particular cuts down on unwanted behaviors of male cats, including spraying and aggression.
Start Spreading the Word
Once the cat is ready for adoption, you can use the magic of social media to your advantage. Take cute photos and write up a fun post that highlights the cat's personality and situation, but be honest. You can also create a social media account just for the cat to showcase their adoptability! Then, contact trusted organizations such as local animal rescue groups, shelters or vet offices to see if they will share your post.
Don't forget about low-tech strategies. Word-of-mouth and posting flyers are very effective ways to find a good home for a cat. Share the news with your network of friends, family and coworkers. The more people who know, the merrier the cat's life will be.
Before deciding on your cat's new home, screen each and every potential adopter carefully. As PAWS Chicago emphasized, "Be very careful when handing your pet over to a stranger you have met online or through acquaintances. Make sure that you check references to ensure the person is responsible and ask that they reach back out to you in the event that they can no longer care for your pet. In fact, it is best to document those stipulations in a contract to show your seriousness." You are the cat's advocate: Only entrust them to a safe and loving household.
Choosing an Animal Shelter
If you must surrender the cat to a shelter, choose one that will take good care of them and make a real effort to find them a home. The Hill's Food, Shelter & Love program is a great resource for finding a reputable shelter.
Rehoming a cat is an emotional experience, but it can be rewarding to know you've found the perfect pet parents for a kitty needing a home.
Christine Brovelli-O'Brien, Ph.D., is a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association (CWA), a STEAM educator, and a devoted cat parent. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien