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How to Responsibly Rehome a Cat: 9 Considerations & Tips

Written by: Brooke Bundy

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

How to Responsibly Rehome a Cat: 9 Considerations & Tips

Giving up an animal may feel bittersweet, like parting ways with a longtime friend. You should only consider rehoming your cat for serious and unpreventable reasons and if both parties benefit. Change is a giant stressor in a feline’s life, so don’t make your final decision without a lot of thought.

Exploring your possibilities can help you determine whether it’s necessary to rehome your cat. If you decide your home isn’t the best fit, we’ll help you find one where they can thrive. Relocating your cat to a safe place can also alleviate any rehoming guilt, as you can rest assured that they’re being loved by their new family.

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Why You Might Need to Rehome Your Cat

Let’s start this conversation with a list of reasons you shouldn’t rehome your cat. It goes without saying that cats are sentient beings who form close bonds with their humans. Even if your cat acts aloof when you offer them their food, deep down, they need you whether they realize it or not. Acting as if they’re a novelty item is never a good excuse to rehome them.

For example, you shouldn’t adopt a cat and then give them away once they’re no longer a cute kitten or once the holiday season has passed. You should only rehome your cat if you feel like you can’t provide for them in the way they need. Taking a job where you’re gone from home for more than 12 hours a day or facing a debilitating financial situation where you can no longer feed them may warrant rehoming them if the situation looks like a permanent change. If not, you might consider how you and your cat can cope until the crisis has passed.

That’s why it’s essential to fully evaluate your circumstances before you adopt.

You should ask yourself honest questions like:
  • Am I financially prepared to meet their needs with food, shelter, and vet bills?
  • Do I have time every day to sit and play with them?
  • Does anyone I live with have known cat allergies?
  • If I move, am I willing for my rental options to be limited to pet-friendly housing?

It’s impossible to foresee the future, but if there are already red flags, you probably shouldn’t proceed. For example, if your fiancé sneezes every time they even see a cat, adopting one isn’t going to work out…unless you decide you want the cat instead, which isn’t entirely out of the question.

young woman with ragdoll cat on couch
Image Credit: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock


The 5 Reasons Why You Might Not Need to Rehome

Before you start looking for a home for your cat, consider why you’re considering giving them up. Here are 5 reasons you might not need to give up your cat.

1. Your Problems Are Temporary

Financial problems don’t last forever. If you’re going through tough times financially, your local humane society or animal shelter may be able to help you with pet food. Even loving friends or family may pitch in if they know you’re in dire need.

While it is important to spend quality time with your pet, you might want to hire a sitter if you still want to keep them but also work long hours across town. The grind doesn’t last forever, so losing your cat over a job that you might not even keep for long would be a shame.

2. You’re Moving

While relocating is a common reason for relinquishing an animal, is it impossible to find a pet-friendly place? Having a pet does, unfortunately, limit your rental options, but you usually can find pet-friendly apartments as long as you’re willing to pay a pet deposit.

Alternatively, you might consider registering your cat as an emotional support animal. While this designation doesn’t give them the full rights of a certified service animal, it may help them get into restricted housing. You can read more about the process of registering your cat as an ESA here.

cat inside carrier beside luggage
Image Credit: Monika-Wisniewska, Shutterstock

3. There’s a New Baby in the House

Having a new baby who’s unfortunately allergic to your cat is a tough spot because you have to prioritize your child. Is there any way you could limit your cat’s domain to a couple of rooms away from the child or let them have outdoor access? If keeping them separate from your child isn’t feasible, you may have to rehome them.

4. They’re Misbehaving

Behavioral issues are one of the most common reasons cats are surrendered. Some behaviors, such as inappropriate urination, may actually be a sign of emotional and physical distress. Stress can cause physical problems in cats, such as bladder stones, so your cat might need to see a vet. They can diagnose the problem or refer you to a cat behavioral expert if they determine it is purely psychological.

Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

5. You’re Bored

Like any good relationship, it takes time and energy to build a friendship with your cat. Don’t give up even if your cat doesn’t seem too thrilled with you. Learn their love language and find ways to spoil them, whether through treats or extra cuddles.


The 4 Ways to Safely Rehome Your Cat

If you’ve decided your cat has to go, you should take a few careful steps towards securing them a stable home. Never abandon your cat, and only relinquish them to a shelter as a last resort. Here are some ways you might start your search:

1. Ask People You Know and Trust

This is a great arrangement for you, too, especially if you live nearby since you might still be able to see your cat occasionally. Even if no one you know is looking for a cat, your friend’s sister may know someone. It never hurts to ask.

2. Look Locally

Once you’ve exhausted your list of contacts, you can scout local social media pages to see if anyone is looking for a cat or check pet store bulletins for ISOs. While you don’t have to charge a hefty sum for your cat, avoid advertising that you have a free cat.

Such claims may attract people who tend to shy away from commitment, which raises the chances your cat will have to experience rehoming again or even end up in an abusive environment.

ginger cat and woman in bed with laptop
Image Credit: Konstantin Aksenov, Shutterstock

3. Reach Out to a Rescue

Animal rescues may be able to foster your cat until they find a home, which means they’ll never see a shelter. At the very least, their adoption screening process is a bit more thorough than the shelter’s.

4. Surrender Them to a Non-kill Shelter

If no one has been able to help you, it’s worth taking the time to drive to a non-kill shelter. Cats are twice as likely to be euthanized as dogs and even less likely to be adopted unless they’re kittens. By avoiding dropping them off at a standard pound, you may save their life.

kittens in animal shelter
Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

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Rehoming a cat isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Beyond the emotional connection you share, your cat may suffer as they rely on you for food, shelter, and safety. Cats don’t like to change the status quo, so moving them to another environment where you’re not there can be a scary experience. If you decide to rehome your cat, it should always be a mutually beneficial arrangement where you’re confident they’ll be loved and provided for.

Leaving your cat in the shelter should always be a last resort, especially if you live in certain parts of the country where the euthanasia rates are high. Ideally, you’ll find someone you know who will care for your cat. As an added bonus, you might still get to see them occasionally or at least receive updates about how they’re faring in their new home.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

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