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How Much Does It Cost to Surrender a Cat in 2023? Facts & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Surrendering a cat can be a difficult and emotional decision for any pet owner. However, sometimes it becomes necessary due to various reasons like financial constraints, allergies, or changes in living situations. The cost of surrendering a cat can cost anywhere from $40 to $200 or more, depending on several factors. In this article, we will discuss the cost of surrendering a cat in 2023, along with factors that may affect the cost and additional costs to anticipate.

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The Importance of Surrendering a Cat

Surrendering a cat is not an easy decision, but sometimes it’s essential to ensure the well-being of both the pet and the owner. Situations like severe allergies, lack of sufficient financial resources, or sudden lifestyle changes can make it impossible for an owner to provide adequate care for their feline companion. In such cases, surrendering the cat to a shelter or rescue organization might be the best option to ensure the cat finds a suitable forever home. It also helps in reducing the number of stray cats and alleviating the burden on animal welfare organizations.

cat hugging a woman
Image Credit: Studio Pizza, Unsplash

Understanding the Surrender Process

When surrendering a cat, it’s essential to understand the surrender process at the specific shelter or rescue organization you’re considering. This process may include an initial phone call or email to discuss your situation and gather information about your cat. The organization may require you to fill out a surrender form detailing your cat’s medical history, behavior, and any special needs or preferences they may have.

Once the organization has reviewed your information and determined they can accept your cat, they may schedule an appointment for you to bring your cat in for surrender. During this appointment, they will likely conduct a brief physical examination of your cat to assess their health and determine any necessary medical treatments.

After surrendering your cat, the shelter or rescue organization will work to find a suitable adoptive home for them, taking into account their specific needs and preferences. This process may include posting your cat’s information on their website or social media platforms, hosting adoption events, and reaching out to potential adopters who have expressed interest in adopting a cat with similar characteristics.

How Much Does Cat Surrender Cost?

The cost of surrendering a cat can vary depending on factors such as the cat’s age, size, health condition, geographic location, and the specific shelter or rescue organization. Here’s a rough estimate of the surrender fees for different regions in the United States:

  • West Coast: $50–$150
  • East Coast: $75–$200
  • Midwest: $40–$125

These prices are subject to change and may vary from one organization to another. It’s essential to contact local shelters or rescue groups to get accurate information about their surrender fees.

man hugging a tabby cat
Image Credit: Chewy, Unsplash

Additional Costs to Anticipate

When surrendering a cat, there might be additional costs to consider, such as medical expenses if the cat requires vaccinations, spaying/neutering, or treatment for any existing health issues. Some shelters also charge extra fees for special needs cats or senior cats that may require more care and resources. It’s important to discuss these potential costs with the organization you’re considering to make an informed decision.

Are There Other Options Besides Surrendering?

Surrendering a cat should be a one-time decision made after careful consideration of all possible alternatives. It’s essential to explore other options like finding a suitable new home for the cat or seeking assistance from local animal welfare organizations before deciding to surrender your pet. Other alternatives to surrendering a cat include rehoming through friends or family and exploring temporary fostering options.

cat adopted at shelter
Image Credit: Artem Beliaikin, Unsplash

Does Pet Insurance Cover Cat Surrender?

Pet insurance typically does not cover the cost of surrendering a cat. Insurance policies are designed to cover medical expenses and treatments for your pet, not the fees associated with rehoming or surrendering them. It’s always a good idea to review your specific policy and contact your insurance provider if you have any questions about coverage.

What to Do for Your Cat Before Surrendering

Before surrendering your cat, ensure they are up to date on vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and any necessary medical treatments. Gather all relevant documents, such as medical records and microchip information, to help the shelter or rescue organization provide the best care for your cat. It’s also essential to spend time with your cat to help ease their anxiety and reassure them during this challenging transition.

veterinarian examines a calico cat
Image Credit: Sakura Image Inc, Shutterstock

Preparing for the Emotional Impact

Surrendering a cat can be an emotionally challenging experience for both you and your pet. It’s essential to prepare yourself for the emotional impact of this decision, as feelings of guilt, sadness, and loss are common. Seeking support from friends, family, or even professional counseling can help you cope with these emotions and move forward.

It’s also important to remember that surrendering your cat is a responsible decision made in the best interest of both you and your pet. By placing them in the care of a shelter or rescue organization, you’re giving them the opportunity to find a loving, forever home that can provide the care and attention they deserve.


Are there any programs to assist with the cost of pet care if I’m struggling financially?

Yes, many organizations and programs offer financial assistance for pet care, including low-cost vaccination clinics, spay/neuter services, and food assistance programs. Contact your local animal welfare organizations or search online to find resources in your area.

Can I surrender my cat directly to a no-kill shelter?

Yes, you can surrender your cat to a no-kill shelter, but it’s essential to research and contact the specific shelter beforehand, as they may have limited space or specific intake requirements.

How can I find a reputable shelter or rescue organization?

To find a reputable shelter or rescue organization, start by searching online directories, asking for recommendations from friends or veterinarians, and checking their reviews and ratings.

shelter cat
Image Credit: Mimzy, Pixabay

Do shelters and rescue organizations screen potential adopters?

Most reputable shelters and rescue organizations have a thorough screening process for potential adopters, which may include background checks, home visits, and interviews to ensure the cat is placed in a suitable home.

How long do shelters keep surrendered cats before they are adopted?

The length of time a cat stays in a shelter before being adopted varies depending on factors like the cat’s age, health, and temperament, as well as the shelter’s resources and adoption policies.

Can I visit my cat after surrendering them to a shelter?

Policies on visiting surrendered cats vary between shelters and rescue organizations. It’s best to discuss this possibility with the organization before surrendering your cat.

animal shelter for cats
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

What happens if my cat doesn’t get adopted after being surrendered?

In no-kill shelters, cats will continue to receive care and support until they find a forever home. However, in traditional shelters, there may be a risk of euthanasia if the cat remains unadopted for an extended period.

Can I change my mind and reclaim my cat after surrendering them?

Policies on reclaiming surrendered cats vary between organizations. Some shelters may allow you to reclaim your cat within a specific time frame, while others may not permit it. It’s crucial to discuss this with the organization beforehand.

Will the shelter inform me when my cat gets adopted?

Some shelters and rescue organizations may provide updates or notify you when your cat is adopted. However, this is not a standard practice, so it’s essential to inquire about their policies before surrendering your cat.

cat shelter
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

What can I do to help my cat adjust to their new environment after surrendering them?

Providing familiar items like toys, blankets, or bedding can help your cat feel more comfortable in their new environment. Informing the shelter about your cat’s habits, preferences, and any specific needs will also help them provide better care.

Can I specify the type of home I want my cat to be adopted into?

While you can express your preferences for your cat’s future home, it’s ultimately up to the shelter or rescue organization to screen and select suitable adopters based on their criteria and expertise.


Surrendering a cat is a difficult decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s crucial to consider all factors, including the cost and additional fees involved, before making a decision. Remember to explore all possible alternatives and consult local shelters or rescue organizations for advice and support. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the well-being of the cat and find them a loving forever home.

Featured Image Credit: Jaroslaw Kurek, Shutterstock

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