Getting Rid of an Unwanted Cat
For whatever reason many cat owners may find themselves unable to keep their pet. These people soon look for ways to get rid of their feline companion. My wife, who spent many years working in animal rescue has helped me compile a guide for getting rid of an unwanted cat. Also for the purposes here, we are talking about a cat you own, not a stray.
- The First Thing to Consider
- Taking the Cat to a Shelter
- Giving It Away
- A Litter of Kittens
- Related Links
The First Thing to Consider
Always ask yourself how likely your cat is to get a good loving home.
If it is a young, friendly, and well behaved animal it may stand a chance. If it is an older cat, of a common type, and has behavior issues, it has a slim chance of finding a home. Cats that are up-to-date medically, and are spayed or neutered have a better chance at finding a new home.
Cats of uncommon breeds, or uncommon colors, have a better chance of being selected when there are other cats looking for new homes.
If you are getting rid of your cat because it has a health issue, such as not using its litter box, you should tell the new owner the truth, otherwise the cat may be abused when the bad behavior becomes apparent. You might want to note that many behaviors are fixable, and although rare, some new owners are willing to care for cats with medical or behavioral problems IF they are made aware of them in the beginning.
If the cat is totally unlikely to get a new home, or will not be able to handle the stress, it can be humanely euthanized.
In cases where a cat was acquired from a breeder, adopted from an animal shelter, or came from a pet rescue, there may be a contract stating that if it is ever unwanted it should be returned to them. Indeed if a cat is ever unwanted this is the best place to consider taking it, as well it may be legally required by contract.
Taking the Cat to a Shelter
Although shelters do not "want" more cats, most would prefer you bring it to them rather than rehoming it on your own to total strangers, particularly if it is not spayed or neutered.
When people take "FREE TO GOOD HOME" pets they might be people that the shelter refused to adopt to for whatever reason. They might be people that cannot afford proper food, emergency care, or even regular veterinary visits. They may be people looking for cats to use as bait for illegal dog fighting (to teach the dogs to kill), or as cheap snake food. In the past some serial killers admited they started by torturing and killing "Free to Good Home" pets (as noted in the New York Times, by the FBIs studies).
Shelters cannot always find every pet a home, but they try, and they do screen potential new owners as best they can.
No-kill shelters often turn pets away when they are full, often selecting to take only the animals they think they can find homes for.
Always call ahead before bringing an unwanted cat to the shelter, find out what days are best, and what hours. Find out what to bring. In many cases they prefer if you bring the cats food and supplies (that you don't want) as these can be passed along to a new owner. You should also bring a copy of your cats veterinary records, and they may ask for a relinquishment fee (which will go towards your cats care, remember shelters are non-profit, they need this money to help your pet). Some will waive the fee if the owner cannot afford it.
Giving It Away
If you opt to give it away, put a price tag on the pet (assuming it is healthy and up to date on vaccinations). The price tag can be small, but will show commitment. If your pet has not been vaccinated then ironically it is worth nothing, as nobody should pay a cent for a pet that is potentially sick, and may have health problems.
Screen any potential new owners. If they are not willing to give you their name, address, and phone number, do not allow them to take your pet. Remember all those serial killers that took free pets did not come to the house looking like they were going to kill the animal.
Ask new owners if they have had pets before, what happened to those pets, and why are they looking for a new one. Be willing to turn somebody down for any reason. You do not have to say "yes" to the first person (or even the second) that comes along.
A Litter of Kittens
One should not allow their cat to breed if they do not have owners lined up ready to take the kittens. Additionally it must be noted that there are already a surplus of kittens needing adoptive homes in the shelters world wide. As such breeding anything other than a registered purebred, quality animal (as proven by going to shows), is unethical.
With that said... accidents happen (although they should not as all unspayed females should be kept indoors and away from males), and kittens may be the result.
Litters of kittens are the most risky to give away, because if the new owner does not get them spayed or neutered, the cycle of unwanted kittens continues.
Free Kittens are also in demand by people looking for snake food. No good farmer wants (or needs) free kittens, any farmer looking for more cats probably has something killing cats at his/her farm.
The best way to rehome kittens is to take the litter to a veterinarian, have them checked, dewormed, and vaccinated. Charge the new owners exactly what you paid for the medical care. If they refuse, then its doubtful they are good owners after all, since a good owner would have to invest this in a new kitten on their own anyhow, and if it is already done it saves them the work.
Failing to rehome a litter of kittens, one should take them to the local shelter, kittens are often quick to be adopted as most people want small, young, new pets. They should not be removed from their mother until 6-8 weeks of age.
In most areas it is illegal to set your cat "free" to live and survive on its own.
Farmers regularly shoot animals dumped in the country, or these animals are killed by the current farm dog/cat or wild animals in the country.
Passing off a problem pet onto an unsuspecting person is unfair to both the new owner, and the pet.
If you give the pet away, let the new owner know you want to check up on it a week later, and do so. If the sitution is poor either ask to take the pet back, or report them to the local ASPCA, RSPCA, SPCA, or whomever deals with the problems in your area.
If cash is exchanged, get everything in writing.