Finding a Cat a New Home

Sometimes, there’s no other alternative but to rehome a pet. Here’s some help in making the best decision for her future.

Your sister is moving to Japan for her job and she cant take her cat with her. Shes devastated and turns to you for help. But you already have three cats and cant take on another. You cant imagine ever having to give up one of your own cats, but dealing with your sisters situation is almost as bad. What do


you do? Someday, you may need to find a home for your own cat. But there are a number of things to try before deciding that a cat cannot stay where she is. And if it becomes absolutely necessary, heres some help in finding her a new home.

Why People Give Up Pets. “The major reason people must part with their pets is because of moving,” says James Pumphrey, shelter operations manager at the Cocheco Valley Humane Society (CVHS) in Dover, New Hampshire. “A new landlord may prohibit pets, or the move to another area, such as another country, may be too hard on a pet.”

Other reasons for rehoming a cat include behavioral problems – such as aggression or not using the litter box – and the development of an allergy to cats. Sometimes a cats owner dies and no one else in the family can take the cat. Whatever the reason, this can be a very difficult and emotional time for the people involved because giving up a pet is, for many, not unlike losing a best friend or a family member.

First Steps to Take. When someone is considering giving up a cat because of a behavioral problem, first encourage the person to take the cat to a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions. For example, a urinary tract infection can lead to excessive urination and accidents outside the litter box. If there are no underlying medical conditions, the next step is talking to a veterinarian about what other nonmedical factors might be causing the negative behavior. A veterinary behaviorist may be able to help redirect the problem behavior and make the situation liveable again. (See related article in CatWatch, February, 2010.)

You can also call your local shelter for advice. “The staff are very experienced with feline behavior problems and are more than happy to discuss the problem and how to resolve it,” says Pumphrey.

If a person or family is moving and needs to find a home for a cat, there are a number of important factors to take into consideration. The first is to determine if the cat really cant move with his human companion or family. Sometimes a landlord will tolerate a cat even if there is a no-pet policy. First ask, and then try to negotiate. Often, telling the landlord that there is only one cat – and no dogs – can make a difference. Offering to pay a little extra rent or a security deposit against pet damage may do the trick.

But sometimes it comes down to the fact that a cat just cant move with his companion. Then the need to find him a new home becomes a reality.

“The cats human companion is the best one to find a home for the cat,” says Pumphrey. “No one knows or loves that cat better. While a shelter is an option, it should be the last resort.”

Word of mouth – via friends, neighbors, co-workers and the veterinarian – is the best way to let people know about a cat needing a new home.

Make sure the cat is spayed or neutered and that her medical information is up to date, suggests Pumphrey. “Thats the best chance of rehoming a cat.”

Take a good look at the personality of the cat so you know who would make a good companion or family. How would you describe the cat – active or lazy; vocal or quiet; playful or serious; friendly or shy; fearful or fearless; gregarious or solitary? Finding the appropriate personality and activity level between pet and person will go a long way towards finding the perfect home.

Going the Shelter Route. If you – or whoever needs to rehome a cat – cant find a good home, call your local animal shelter. The first thing shelter staff will do is try to help resolve the problem that may necessitate finding the cat another home. “First, they will probably ask if a veterinarian has examined the cat,” says Pumphrey. “Next, they will go over behavioral concerns. Even if youve gone over these issues before, it is well worth listening to additional advice.”

If the problem cant be resolved, you may need to consider bringing the cat to the shelter. “The person will need to fill out a pet surrender profile that asks detailed questions about the cats medical history, personality, behavior, litter box habits, diet – as well as why the cat needs to be rehomed.”

The shelter staff then will go over the information included in the cats profile. This is the time for asking questions about the process of shelter adoption. Its usually a very hard, emotional time for the person bringing in the cat. “But we dont judge people,” says Pumphrey. “We know that most people will not bring a cat to the shelter unless they feel they have no other choice. And we attempt to reassure them that theyre doing the right thing considering their circumstances,” says Pumphrey.

Finding a new home for a cat means making a difficult and heartbreaking decision – even if its not your own cat. Consulting with a veterinarian or a behaviorist before taking any other action can often lead to resolving the problem so the cat does not have to leave.

But there certainly are some serious circumstances in which keeping a cat is impossible. If you cant help someone find a good home for a cat through friends and family, or through a veterinarian, turn to the shelter. The professionals are there to help make a very trying time a little easier for everyone involved.