Note: This is an abbreviated version of a longer article that also discusses whether you can resolve an issue rather than rehoming the cat. See: Rehoming Cats – What to Consider and How to Be Responsible.
Avenues for Rehoming a Cat
A careful process is needed to help ensure the cat will go to a home that meets their needs. It’s also important to find adopters who are responsible and understand the long-term commitment they are making. The caretaker has a responsibility to ensure that a cat goes to a home that is a good match for the cat and for the person. Here are some ways to approach rehoming a cat carefully and responsibly:
- Reach out to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers – Don’t underestimate the power of your own contacts. Use word of mouth and your personal social media connections to find someone you trust to provide the cat with a good home.
- Expand your reach through community social media networks – If you can’t find a home for the cat via your own networks, post the cat on neighborhood sites such as Nextdoor to reach a broader audience in your neighborhood. If your community has a Facebook page, post there as well.
- Post on rehoming websites – There are organizations that have developed programs to help people rehome a cat.
- Adopt-A-Pet has a new service called Rehome where you can post the cat on their website for adoption. They will screen applicants for you and provide you with advice and support. They have a four-step process that includes: creating a pet profile, reviewing applications, meeting the adopters, and finalizing the adoption.
- A similar program called Home to Home Animal Adoption has been developed by the Better Together Animal Alliance. Their process includes creating a pet profile, and all inquiries are forwarded to you to consider.
Evaluate Potential Adopters Carefully
Once you have some potential adopters to consider, you’ll want to evaluate the candidates to determine who is a good fit for the cat. Never hand a cat over to someone you don’t know or who hasn’t been properly screened. Making the right decision is so important. The cat’s life depends on this. Below are four steps you may wish to follow when rehoming a cat. This process is similar to how SPCA NOVA screens and evaluates potential adopters, although our process is more formal.
Evaluate whether the cat appears to be a good match for both the cat and the person’s home environment and lifestyle. Either use a form similar to SPCA NOVA’s or have a conversation over the phone to ask questions. Who lives in the home? Do they have kids? If yes, what are their ages? Do they currently have other pets, and have they had pets in the past? How much time do they spend at work and home? Do they rent? If yes, are pets allowed? Why do they want to adopt a cat? If this basic information suggests there is a good potential match, move to the next step.
Ask the person to meet the cat where the cat is currently living. Don’t take the cat to their home yet. It’s better to have the person meet the cat where the cat is comfortable in their own surroundings. This also gives you a chance to meet the person face to face. During this step, you can talk more about the cat’s personality and needs and what the person’s home environment and lifestyle is like. If you are even more confident the cat appears to be a good potential match, move to the next step.
Ask for more information about pets they may have (or have had), as well as their views on indoor versus outdoor cats and declawing. For current pets, are their personalities, levels of activity and ages compatible with the cat? Are they up to date on appropriate vaccines? Do they receive annual vet exams? Are they spayed/neutered? For past pets, did they receive regular trips to the vet and receive preventative care? Is the person looking for an indoor-only or indoor/outdoor cat? What are their views on declawing? (SPCA NOVA has a strict indoor-only policy for all of our cats and forbids declawing, which is amputating the cat’s toes).
SPCA NOVA addresses these issues as part of our formal application process. If you want to be thorough, you should ask the person to provide appropriate vet records for their own pets for verification. If you are confident the person has the resources and ability to provide a life-long home for the cat, move to the next step.
Take the cat to their new home. While SPCA NOVA uses a legally binding adoption contract to finalize an adoption, someone rehoming a cat probably won’t do this. However, we suggest you take the cat to the person’s home as the final step in the process to ensure you feel comfortable with the home environment.
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