ON FINDING A HOME FOR YOUR CAT ON YOUR OWN
If you have a cat you feel you can no longer care for,
first of all, please reconsider your decision to give
away your cat. We may be able to provide you with helpful
advice about the issue you are facing, whether it is
a behavior problem, a new baby on the way, a landlord
problem, moving to a new home, an allergy problem or
something else. Please, E-mail or call us and ask about
Don't wait until the last minute to find a home. If
you decide that there is no way you can keep your cat,
please leave plenty of time to make arrangements for
your cat. And first, please try on your own to find
a good home for your cat, before you place this obligation
on over-worked volunteers at a rescue group or shelter.
Remember, in traditional shelters in the Greater Philadelphia
area, there is not enough room for all the cats being
surrendered by owners, and there are not enough people
to adopt them, so the majority of the cats are euthanized.
Finding a home yourself is the right thing to do. Plan
ahead, because it could take a month or two.
Suggested steps for finding a home:
Ask your family, neighbors, friends at church, co-workers
and employees at your vet's office to adopt your cat,
or to suggest someone who might.
2. Post signs on bulletin boards at supermarkets,
churches, libraries, pet supply stores, apartment
complexes, veterinary clinics, grooming salons, feed
supply stores, fitness centers, laundromats, retirement
communities, assisted living facilities, and other
places. Many retirement homes are now keeping a couple
of pets on their premises for all the residents to
enjoy, so if your cat would be compatible with senior
citizens, it doesn't hurt to ask.
In your sign include a picture of the cat or a drawing
if you have no picture, and its name, sex, age,
color, and unusual markings.
b. Describe your cat's personality, especially anything
cute or appealing, games it likes to play, anything
silly it does.
c. Describe when your cat was spayed/neutered and
whether vaccinations are current.
d. Describe the reason you are giving up your cat.
e. State that you require references. This will
deter some undesirable people from applying.
f. Don't say "free to a good home". This
devalues the cat you love, and tends to attract
undesirable adopters. Give your name, phone number(s)
and best time to call. Be truthful when describing
your cat. If you don't mention something important,
the new owners may decide not to keep your cat after
all, and then you don't know where it might end
3. Advertise in newspapers in the classified section
for pets. Include the same information you put in
your poster in item 2 above. Here's a sample:
Silly, 3 year old, black/white cat named Benny needs
a loving home. We are moving to Japan. Benny is healthy,
neutered and current on vaccines. Loves to play games
with rubber balls. To adopt Benny, call Rich or Mary
at xxx-xxx-xxxx in the evening. We require 3 positive
4. Screen everyone who wants to adopt your cat, even
family, co-workers and neighbors. You want the best
home possible for your cat. Even though you love your
family, friends and neighbors, they might have different
expectations about a cat. If you have always let your
cat up on the bed, tables, countertops and furniture,
and her new owners punish her for that behavior, your
cat may suffer. Thorough screening is an absolute
must for people you don't know. There are people who
may sound okay on the telephone, even though they
have malicious intentions. Be sure that callers understand
that if you agree on an adoption by them, you will
deliver the cat to them at their home. Some people
may suddenly become disinterested when they know you
want to see their home. When you screen people, here's
what you need to find out:
Name, address and phone. Ask for the age, if the
person sounds under 30. Consider how frequently
young people's lives change; they move a lot, travel
abroad, get married, decide to go to college, etc.
These changes might cause them to give away your
cat or abandon it.
b. Number of people in family. How often is someone
c. Ages of children. If they're very young, do you
know if your cat can tolerate a lot of child play?
d. Other pets in the home. Do they get along with
cats? How many are there? (Watch out for hoarders.
These are people with a psychological problem who
start rescuing pets and can't stop, even though
their homes may stink and they can't afford proper
care for the animals.)
e. Pets they've had in the past, and what happened
f. Three references, one of which should be their
veterinarian. eg. Does their family or roommate
or significant other want a cat too?
h. Does anyone have allergies?
i. Can they afford the typical veterinary expenses
for annual checkups and vaccinations?
j. Type of home. If the person rents, find out if
they need landlord approval for a pet. If the person
has a lease that says "No Pets", you cat
could be kicked out.
A prospective adopter who does not readily answer
these questions may have something to hide.
Check references. Do not skip this step just because
it's hard! Here's how you might have a discussion
on the telephone: "Hi, My name is Barbara Jones.
Your friend (neighbor, relative, co-worker) Paula
Smith gave me your name as a reference. She's interested
in adopting our cat Archie. We'd like to know what
kind of a cat mom you think Paula would be. (Don't
just get off the call because they say she'd be fine.)
You've known Paula a long time? Have you been to Paula's
house? Do you think a playful (quiet/lazy/rambunctious/active/older)
cat would fit in with her family (roommate, boyfriend,
etc.) and lifestyle? Do you think her whole family
(roommate, spouse, sister, etc.) wants a cat? Have
you met her other pets? Do you think they'd get along
with a new cat? Do you think Paula has enough room
for another pet?" When you call the veterinarian,
be sensitive to the fact that they will be cautious
about what they say. Ask questions like, "Does
Paula bring her pets in for annual checkups and vaccinations?
Are her animals in good health? Do you know how many
pets she has? Is there any reason why I shouldn't
let her adopt my cat? Is there any particular reason
you would recommend her to me?" Even if you get
an "A+" rating when you check the first
reference, you should still call the other two. A
person may be too shy to say anything negative, or
the prospective adopter may have coached him or her
on what to say. If you think something is not right
about the impression you're getting, you're probably
right. Don't jump at the first adoption offer just
because you feel desperate. You might subject your
cat to an unhappy experience or worse.
6. The prospective adopters visit your cat. Don't
give your home address to prospective adopters until
you have checked their references and you think they
might be good adopters. Then invite them to visit
the cat, but don't turn the cat over to them.
7. Use an adoption agreement. Not everyone will feel
comfortable requiring the adopters to sign a legally
binding adoption agreement, but using one will give
you extra protection for your cat. If you would like
an adoption agreement you can use, please call us
at 856-719-0512, or e-mail us at SavedWhisker@aol.com.
8. Delivering your cat. If you agree they can adopt
your cat, make arrangements to deliver the cat to
them at their home. Take you cat's favorite toys,
bed, etc. But don't be afraid to walk away from an
adoption at the last minute, if you see something
in the home that disturbs you. After all, this is
your cat, who deserves the best! You can also see
how the cat reacts to being in the new home and make
helpful suggestions. Be polite, but firm if you change
your mind about the adoption.
9. Turn over vet records. If the adoption goes through,
give the adopter your veterinary records for your
cat and the current rabies certificate. Advise your
veterinarian of the name and address of your cats'
new owners, and ask them to release copies of their
records to the new owners, if the owners request it.
10. Option to return your cat. If at all possible,
convince them to call you to take the cat back if
the adoption doesn't work out for any reason. If you
are unwilling to take the cat back, and they decide
not to keep it, you just don't know what could happen
to your cat. The adoption agreement mentioned above
in number 7 contains a clause about returning your
11. Follow up. We recommend calling the cat's new
owners within about 5 days to see how everything is
going, and to answer questions they may have about
the cat. If you feel guilty about giving up your cat,
don't let that stop you from contacting them. Wouldn't
you rather know if everything is okay, and if it isn't,
to offer advice or go retrieve the cat? If they have
questions about pet care or behavior problems that
you can't help them with, give them our e-mail address,
or our phone number, and we'll give them some advice.
However, we will not take the cat from them.