How to Rehome a Cat: Tips and Resources

Sometimes, a cat will need to be rehomed.

Some people will try to shame you and make you feel awful for having to rehome a cat, even though the cat will be better off rehomed if they knew the entire story.

The cat should be rehomed responsibly and not abandoned and left to fend for itself (when it may not have the skills to do so after living inside).

Depending on the issue for rehoming, there may be things you can try to keep your cat.  Some behavioral issues can be corrected.

If you feel the need to rehome your cat for short-term financial reasons, a local rescue may be able to provide cat food and litter at no cost to you so that you can keep your cat. You may want to read through my “how to have money for the vet guide.”

However, I understand that you may get to a point where a new home for the cat is the best option for you and the cat (it happened to me with Rocko).

Here are 4 ways to rehome your cat

  1. Surrender your cat to a rescue or shelter
  2. Ask friends, family, and coworkers if they want your cat or know someone looking for a cat.
  3. List the cat on Rehome by Adopt-a-pet.
  4. Advertise the cat on Facebook, Craig’s List, or other sites with local listing (charging a rehoming fee is recommended).

In general, giving away a cat (or kittens) for free is considered irresponsible. I think it’s only okay to do it for free if you know the person or have a strong recommendation.

A rehoming fee can deter people who want the cat for nefarious reasons (for bait, to sell to labs, kittens as snake food, etc.).

Surrendering your cat to a rescue

Most communities will have Humane Society, and some will have a cat only rescue. You’ll want to look at their policies.

If they are a no-kill shelter, they will only take in your cat when they have space available.

An open admissions shelter (a kill shelter) may have to put down another cat that has been at the shelter “too long” to make space for yours.

Some shelters require a surrender fee. This fee will help cover the costs of the cat during its stay at the shelter.

Some rescues will not have a fee, which will make rehoming the cat free to you.

The rescues may also have an option for you to list your cat on a rehoming section of their website for free.

Asking friends, family, and coworkers

Due to issues with rehoming shame and efforts to be convinced to keep the cat, you may want to be careful who you ask.

I am not in the “must always keep the cat; it’s family” group, but many people are.

You may also have a connection where someone you know will know someone looking for a cat.

I had a coworker adopt a cat that a friend found abandoned in a rental house (the renters had been moved out for a week!).

And I was able to connect a coworker with a home for her cat after another friend asked if I knew anyone that had a cat.

I adopted Charlotte when a friend was moving and could not keep her. I attempted to rehome her, but when it didn’t work out, we kept her.

List the cat on Rehome – Adopt-a-Pet

You’ll post photos and a description of the cat. You can learn more about how it works here.

An adoption fee is required, which will be donated to a rescue of your choice. This isn’t a site for people looking to earn money selling cats and kittens.

When I was fostering Other Buster 2 (a stray rescue cat from my yard with FeLV), I used the Adopt-a-pet. He was a hard sell being positive for feline leukemia, and eventually was taken in by a feline leukemia cat sanctuary.

Other online sites

Facebook marketplace, Facebook local community groups, or Craig’s List can be another way to find a home for your cat.

You’ll need to spend extra time screen potential adopters to give your cat the best chance of finding the perfect home.

People taking a “free” cat maybe not be able to afford it, and the cat may not be in a better situation.

Some people could be taking free cats for reasons that will cause your cat to be harmed (bait for dog fights, to labs, snake food, torture, etc.). That may sound extreme, but it does happen.

How to decide which option is best for your cat

If you do not want to screen potential adopters, surrendering to a shelter or rescue may be best. They are trained to find good homes and usually have an application process.

If you need to rehome your cat ASAP, you likely need to ask everyone you know (and ask them to ask their network) if the local shelter isn’t able to help right away.

If you have the risk tolerance, time, and patience to screen adopters, you can use online sites like Adopt a Pet, Craig’s List, or social media sites.

When we needed to rehome Rocko, I choose to work with the local no-kill Humane Society, as I would not be in a position to take him back if his new home didn’t work out. And I didn’t want to screen adopters.

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Heidi Bender is the writer and founder of the Joy of Cats. She enjoys sharing cat information and providing helpful cat tips. She considers herself a cat lady and currently cares for eight cats.

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