Responsibly Rehoming a Cat

Sno-ConeCity Kitties’ primary focus is on stray and feral cats, and we have a very limited number of foster homes. Because of our limited space, we cannot accept owner surrenders.  We understand that some owners have to re-home their pets due to unexpected circumstances. The information below is provided in the hopes that it will help you find an appropriate new home for your cat.

When to Start Looking
Rehoming a cat can take weeks or even months, so start looking as soon as possible. If you only have a week to find a new home, you will not have much luck, and you might end up settling for a home that isn’t right for your pet out of desperation.

Preparing Your Cat
Make sure your cat is up to date on vaccinations, FIV/FeLV tested, and spayed/neutered. You will have much more luck finding a home for it if you can provide veterinary records showing the cat’s health status. A responsible and informed adopter will want to know all of this information.

Where to Look First
First look to your circle of trusted friends, family members, and coworkers. Are any of them willing to give your cat a loving and responsible home? Please do not contact a rescue until you’ve exhausted every other option. Rescues are already overcrowded, and for every cat surrendered to a rescue, many more remain on the street or in a shelter.

About Animal Shelters 
Philadelphia shelters have a very high euthanasia rate due to overcrowding–during spring/summer, about 70% of surrendered cats and kittens never leave the shelter, including pets surrendered by former owners. Older pets and those with even minor health and behavioral problems are at an even higher risk of euthanasia. For this reason, we strongly recommend looking for a new home on your own.

Screening Potential Adopters
City Kitties recommends thorough screening for any potential adopter. Never agree to give your pet to someone until you have properly screened them and visited their home. Read our Stray Cat Guide page on screening adopters for tips.

About Behavioral Problems 
If your cat has health or behavioral problems, such as aggression or litter box issues, be up front about it with potential adopters. The last thing you want is to adopt your cat to an unsuspecting person who later rehomes the cat again (or surrenders it to a shelter) due to an unanticipated problem. Please read our Behavior Problems section for information about and solutions to common problems like improper urination or scratching, aggressive play, and not getting along with other pets in the home.

Online Resources
Websites like Craigslist.org, if used appropriately and cautiously, may be a good resource for rehoming a cat. You can also post a free classified on Petfinder.com. However, use these websites with CAUTION. Some tips:

  • Do not post your cat as “free to a good home.” This will attract adopters who do not value your pet. City Kitties recommends an adoption fee, even if it is as small as $25.
  • Message boards like Freecycle are nice for old couches, but not for cats.
  • Make it clear in your advertisement that adopters will be screened.
  • Use a picture or two of your kitty to create more interest.
  • Tell potential adopters about your cat’s personality, likes/dislikes, favorite toys, and what type of food/litter you use.

Purebred Cats
Is your cat purebred or mixed with a purebred cat? (No, this doesn’t mean your domestic short hair gray cat is really a Russian Blue, or your longhair cat is really a Maine Coon or a Ragdoll!) If so, try searching for purebred rescues online. Some of them will take owner surrenders, depending on how much room they have. However, again you should exhaust every other option first. Keep in mind that purebred cats also attract a lot of people who may not have the experience or knowledge needed to deal with a purebred cat and the health problems that may come with it.

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