This article is written for people who own a cat that they must get rid of. If you have a found a lost, or stray cat (one that is not owned by you) and want to know what to do with it, click here. If you are looking for how to get rid of your own cat, keep reading.
Where Did you Get the Cat?
Most breeders and animal shelters have contracts stating that if you cannot keep the cat it will be returned to them. If you got a contract when you got your cat, read it before trying to do anything else.
Is your Cat Adoptable?
Is your cat realistically going to find a home. Sure there might be a few people that will take an older cat, or one with health problems, but realistically most people want young cats, those who are under 2 years of age (most prefer kittens). If your cat is older but has something special about it, being a registered purebred, or declawed (were allowed) it might have an okay chance at getting a new home even if a bit older.
Is your cat friendly, and well behaved? Cats who have issues using their litter box are difficult to rehome (this can be a health concern or behavioral). Is your cat in good shape (wormed, vaccinated, free of fleas, ear mites, ticks)?
When there are many “FREE” kittens, and countless more for adoption at animal shelters (for less than what it costs to take an unhealthy cat to a veterinarian) it is unlikely that anything other than a “Perfect” cat is going to find a “Good Home” too easily.
There are many ways of advertising the cat you want to get rid of. The newspaper, as well as sites such as petfinder, or craigslist, are some ideas. These should be considered with a great amount of caution. Any “Good” owner would be checking for pets from the local shelter – knowing shelters are non-profit and work to rescue unwanted cats, and pets. As such there is always a concern why a person is not looking at a shelter, were they turned down for adoption, and if so... why?
Word of Mouth
Talk to your friends and family, see if anyone is looking for a cat. This is probably one of the best ways to rehome an unwanted cat, as you should know a bit about the person the cat is going to and can therefore decide if they are a good owner or not. Even your veterinarian might know of somebody looking for a cat.
Free or Fee?
You might be wondering should you offer your cat for free or include a rehoming fee. You should be aware that “Free to Good Home” does not mean the cat will a find good home, a fee can sometimes weed out some of the bad homes (not always). However if your cat is not vaccinated, spayed (or neutered), wormed, and so forth, it is not worth a penny – and nobody should ever pay a cent for a cat that is not up to date medically or come with guarantees. In other words if you have not been a “good owner” and had the cat taken care of medically, you should not expect to “sell” it.
A lot of owners mistakenly tell people they are “adopting” out their unwanted pet. This is erroneous, as adoption is only done by animal shelters (or rescues) and always involves adoption contracts.
authors cat - adopted from a shelter as an adult
The Animal Shelter
Many people think the animal shelter is not a good place to leave an unwanted pet, however in some circumstances this can be the best place. Young cats tend to be adopted quickly – if your cat (or kitten) is already vaccinated, dewormed, (and even spayed or neutered) it can go into adoption at no cost to the shelter – in contrast cats that do not have these things already done require the shelter to spend the money to do so. As such your cat has a very good chance of going into adoption right away, as well if it has a history (information about its likes and habits) it is more likely to be adopted than a cat with no known history.
No-kill shelters typically have long waiting lists, but you know your cat will not be euthanized. You may want to call a no-kill shelter if you do not have to get rid of your cat immediately, but remember with the other shelters – once the pet goes into adoption, euthanasia is never a first choice, most shelters keep their adoption cats for 30-90 days.
On a Farm
Sadly many people resort to cruelty – abandoning their cat in the country – where it may be killed by coyotes, farm cats, the farmer, or starvation. This is illegal in most places and should never be something considered. Even if the farm cats (farm dog, and farmer) happen to accept the new cat, farm life is not easy, farm cats are often not cared for and many have short lifespans. Declawed cats have no hope for survival as outdoor farm cats, but many city cats are equally poorly equipped to live on a farm.
If, following accessing your cat realistically, you have determined its chances for a new home are slim, euthanasia may be the best option. Surly you should ask around, and try to find the cat a home, but rather than surrendering it to a shelter (if no home can be found), where it will suffer for a few days before the shelter can euthanize it, you should take your cat to the veterinarian yourself.