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How to Rehome a Cat: 6 Critical Steps

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

bengal cat kitten in white blanket

It’s never an easy decision to let go of an animal we have brought into our lives. We hope to keep them forever through any hardships we encounter. However, many life circumstances and situations arise that make it very complicated or even impossible to keep your beloved pets.

If you have found yourself in a predicament where a feline needs a new home, you will want to rehome correctly. Not all folks have good intentions, and you could be giving your cat up to a worse situation. So, here is how you can ensure a safe, loving home for your kitty.

How To Rehome A Cat in 6 Steps

1. Make Sure You’ve Exhausted Your Resources

Rehoming your pet is a huge decision. The last thing you want is to be left with regret when the process is said and done.

Sometimes, life circumstances come up unexpectedly that prevent us from being able to care for our animals the way that we need to. Some things are completely inevitable and out of our hands.

But if there’s anything that you can do to keep your pet, remember they are always better off with those that they love and trust. If you still want to keep your pet but are still trying to figure out where to turn, contact your veterinarian or another professional in your area. You can get suggestions on how you can make it happen.

There are plenty of steps you can take to improve a situation. If it’s a behavioral issue, there are cat behavior specialists who can help you out. Remember all of the bountiful resources online as well.

But if you have found your hands are bound, it’s time to move on to the more critical steps to ensure the longevity and safety of your kitty.

cat stalks the upper rafters of a hayloft in a barn
Image Credit: Jason Wilde, Shutterstock

2. Choose Your Method of Rehoming

When you’re looking for an alternative home for your cat, you’ll have to consider how you’ll find the new owner.

Reach Out to Friends and Family

Realistically, the best outcome would be finding a friend or family member who’s willing to take in your pet – especially if it’s temporary. This can sometimes be impossible, as many people aren’t able to take on additional pets. However, it can be a really fabulous option if they can.


If you can’t find a friend or family member to take your cat, it’s recommended that you work with rescues and shelters. These facilities are designed to work in the favor of your cat. Sometimes, they will stay at the shelter until adopted—or they might even get lucky and find a foster home in the meantime.

Many shelters and rescues have onboarding processes that work for surrendering your pets. However, getting your cat into a local rescue or shelter can be challenging depending on your location.

Shelter space is often very low, and many cats are euthanized yearly during overload when space is limited. So, while it is very risky to find the owner online, if you live in a place that euthanizes at shelters, putting them in a facility can almost be as dangerous.

Other resources can be spectacular, working with you every step of the way to find your cat a new, loving forever-home. Use discernment.

Private Buyers

This option is not our favorite, but we want to explain that you can try to find private buyers by making ads on social media platforms, buying and selling websites, and other online service-based websites.

However, we want to send out a warning here. We do not recommend posting your cat on social media websites or personal ads. It is very hard to screen owners to find the perfect one, as many people fail to be forthright and honest. Sometimes, people want to gather free or inexpensive cats for horrific reasons. Many poor creatures are used as bait for fighting dogs and other unmentionable acts.

Apart from the worst-case scenarios, sometimes folks will get a cat thinking they have the means to take care of them, but they cannot provide the financial support a cat needs, such as for vetting, diet, or general care.

Many folks like the looks of an animal but don’t stop to consider compatibility. If your cat displays unsavory behavioral issues such as fighting, biting, scratching, and so on, they might send them down the line as well—which can be totally traumatic to a pet. Also, sometimes, this puts your cat at an increased risk of getting rehomed again.


Yes, cats are fabulous hunters who can control mice populations and barns. It isn’t uncommon for cat owners to look for farms where their cats can roam free and explore. Even though this might be a tempting option, it’s only sometimes what it’s cracked up to be.

These animals are typically very well taken care of with food, shelter, and occasional attention from humans. However, domestic cats pose a problematic detriment to native bird populations. So, if the cat is roaming free without restriction, it can devastate local wildlife.

Also, if your cat has been inside their whole life, they might not fare well out in the elements.

animal shelter for cats
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

3. Decide on a Fair Price

If you choose to use a buy-and-sell website, always make sure you charge for your cat. The reality is some people buy animals for very sinister purposes. You would not want your cat to end up as bait for a fighting dog or any other dishonest and devastating situation.

Consider how much your cat is worth in combination with any supplies or items you plan on sending them with when they go to their new home. These things could include litter boxes, dishes, bags of cat food, toys, and other items.

A person who is serious about committing to your cat and giving them a wonderful home will not flinch at the price tag. Granted, you would only want to charge a rescue or shelter if you have a purebred cat that is very high dollar.

cat snuggling with owner, scottish fold
Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

4. Be Totally Transparent

If you are rehoming your pet, you must be as transparent as possible as to why. Potential owners will need all of the details so that they can make sure that they’re also the correct fit.

If your cat is having specific behavioral issues, tell people about it. These issues might not be something you can handle, but someone else might be very appropriate for the job. The last thing you want is to give your cat to someone who will turn around and give them away again.

Be sure to include details like whether or not your cat has been properly vetted, their current state of health, and if they have been spayed or neutered. Give copies of vet records if you have them as well.

All health information is vital for future owners to make medical decisions.

5. Screen Potential Owners

Even if you are desperate to get rid of your cat due to time restrictions, don’t give it to the first person that comes around without ensuring they have your cat’s best interest at heart. Some people can be very shady and want the cat for all the wrong reasons.

Others might not be financially able to take care of them properly. Until you are familiar with that person’s current predicament, never just assume that someone will care for your pet how they should.

Ask about other pets. If your cat gets along with other pets, then having multiple animals might be a good thing. However, if your cat is exceptionally territorial or prefers to be around only human company, having multiple pets will not work in your particular case.

Also, make sure to ask about any dogs in the home. Many dogs are perfectly fine sharing their space with their cat counterpart. However, some dogs can be aggressive towards cats, or it might even set off their prey drive.

Prey drive is instinctual and something many breeds cannot control. If the person has never had their dog around a cat before, you’ll have to make your best judgment on whether you think that’s a safe situation. You could even do a meet and greet to see if the two acclimate well to one another.

6. Request Communication After Placement

If you choose to rehome your cat to a private owner, you can always request to keep up communication. Whether you keep each other’s phone numbers, add each other on social media, or occasionally send each other an e-mail, updates are always welcome.

If you’re ever able to take your cat back, and they cannot care for them, you could wind up with them again in the future.

woman holding a mobile phone
Image: Unsplash


Rehoming any pet is a tough decision. We understand the emotional implications that go into the process. If you can work directly with a rescue or shelter, they have all of the resources available to ensure your cat will go to a new loving home.

However, sometimes that isn’t in the cards. If you have to find a home for your cat yourself, use extreme discernment and follow the steps we’ve listed here to protect your animal and prevent future rehoming.

Featured Image Credit: Vanilin Ka, Shutterstock

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