Finding a New Home for Your Cat

It is a difficult decision to find a new home for your cat. No matter what brought you together or how long you have known each other, you are the person who cares most about her in the whole world. That means it’s up to you to think carefully about what kind of home will work for her and then to find that home.

The amount of time it will take to find a new home for your cat will depend on many things, including:

  • your cat’s age
  • health
  • behavior
  • how hard you work on finding her a new home

If you are trying to place an adult cat (especially one older than two years), or one who is shy, has medical or behavioral issues, house soils, or behaves aggressively, your search will take more time. With so many young, friendly, healthy cats who are homeless in our community, the competition for loving new homes is fierce. It will take extra time and effort for you to find someone who is willing to take in a cat with special medical or behavioral requirements, who has difficulty adjusting to strangers, or whose kitten days are but a fond memory.

A Word About Behavior Problems

If your cat has a behavior problem in your home, she is very likely to have it in her next home as well.

Think carefully about whether the problem she has is one that you can realistically expect anyone to live with (after all, you love her—if you can’t live with her who else will?). Most behavior problems do NOT go away with more time spent with the cat, with no other cats around, in a quieter home, or if the cat starts going outside.

Be honest with a potential adopter about your cat’s habits. If you neglect to tell an adopter that your cat doesn’t always use the litter box, when the same problem happens in her new home (and it probably will), if you’re lucky you’ll get an irate phone call. If you aren’t lucky, your cat could end up dumped on the street, abused, or worse.

If your cat’s behavior problem is severe, there may not be a home that can successfully manage your cat’s behavior.

Preparing Your Cat for Adoption

Take your cat to the veterinarian. If the cat is not already spayed or neutered, do it now! More than 5,000 cats will be euthanized this year in the Pioneer Valley alone. Because there are just too many, you must ensure that your cat does not contribute to this overpopulation disaster. Don’t rely on the adopter to take care of this important surgery. Please contact your veterinarian or Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic at 413-781-4019.

Also, use this opportunity to update your cat’s vaccinations. This will make her much more attractive to potential adopters. Have your veterinarian provide you with a copy of your cat’s complete medical records to send with her to her new home.

Where to Advertise

Your Network
Contact everyone you know and get the word out that your cat needs a new home. This is the best way to place your cat. Be sure to include all possible contacts that you have, including work, clubs, church, neighbors, friends, relatives, your groomer and veterinarian, and anyone else you can think of. Spread the word far and wide!

Shelter/Rescue
If you adopted your cat from a shelter or rescue, contact them! Most shelter and rescue adoption contracts state that if you cannot keep your pet, the pet should be returned to them. Even if your contract does not say that, give them a call and see how they can help.

Breed Rescue
If your cat is a purebred (and sometimes a mix that is mostly purebred), there is probably a rescue group dedicated exclusively to that breed. Search online under “Siamese (or whichever breed your cat is) cat rescue”.

Online
Post your cat for adoption online. Sites you can use include Petfinder.com (go to “Classified Ads”), Freecycle, and Craigslist.

Flyers
Get a beautiful picture of your cat and make a full-page color flyer advertising her for adoption. Be brief and honest about your cat on the flyer. Be sure to include information such as her name, age, breed, personality, and what kind of home will work best for her. Post these everywhere you can. Be sure to include locations pet people go, such as veterinary offices, pet stores, and feed stores.

Newspapers
Place an ad in the newspaper’s classified section. Hampshire Gazette: 413-586-1700; Greenfield Recorder: 413-772-0261; Springfield Republican: 413-788-1000. Don’t forget smaller town papers that may be in your area.

Tips for Screening Adopters

You will need to screen potential adopters to see if they will be a good match for your cat.

  • Talk with the caller about her home circumstances. Are there kids, other pets? Are they looking for an indoor-only or an indoor-outdoor cat? Where will your cat sleep? Does anyone in the home have allergies? Is your cat’s energy level and personality a match for what the caller is looking for? If your cat has behavior issues, have they dealt successfully with similar issues in the past with other cats? If they are renting, do they have permission to have a cat where they live? Engage the caller in conversation about their current or past pets; this will tell you a lot about how your cat would be treated.
  • Be completely honest about your cat’s characteristics, good and bad.
  • If everything sounds good, set up a meeting between the caller and your cat. If there are other people or dogs in the potential home, you’ll want your cat to meet all of them before a commitment is made. If you are uncomfortable, remember that you are under no obligation to give your cat to anyone.
  • Think about what you want to have happen if it doesn’t work out with the new adopter. Do you want your cat to come back to you, or is the adopter on her own with problems? Make your expectations clear at adoption time.
  • Consider a trial adoption (two weeks or so) before things are finalized. This allows your cat some time to settle in at the new house, while you stay in touch with the adopters to ensure things are going well. If your cat isn’t a good match, she can come back to you right away.