It takes a lifetime commitment to properly care for an animal friend, and as loving people who are committed to our pets, we recognise the importance of living up to this obligation. They put their faith in us and rely on us to give them a lasting home that is free from danger and threat, a place where they may love and be loved, and where they can love others.
Unfortunately, unanticipated and life-threatening circumstances might develop at any time, rendering it difficult for us to provide the forever home that we had planned to provide our cherished dogs. When all other options have been exhausted and no viable paths to a solution remain, it may become necessary to find new homes for the animal. This painful task is one of the few things that might possibly be more upsetting.
It’s a heart-wrenching process at any time, but much harder when the issues that brought this about may already have us feeling stressed, distracted, and emotionally overwrought. We can be vulnerable at such times.
Here are some common “do’s and don’ts” for rehoming, ones we’re all familiar with, but that can be overlooked or forgotten.
- DO BE SURE – Be absolutely CERTAIN that it’s impossible to keep your pet. How truly heartbreaking to find out later that there was a way after all. Leave no stone unturned as a workable solution. Find temporary accommodation if there is any ray of hope at all that you may be able to be reunited at a later date.
- DON’T FORGET YOUR PET’S BREEDER – Remember, if you acquired your cat from a breeder, contact them first before doing anything. Most reputable breeders will take their cats back, and in cases where there was a contract, it’s often a legal requirement that they MUST be offered the cat back if you are no longer able to keep him or her.
- DO SEEK OUT RESCUE GROUPS – Contact pet rescue groups without delay for their assistance. Get your kitty on a waiting list while you are trying to rehome them privately. If a purebred cat, contact a rescue specific to the breed – Persian, Siamese, etc. These groups do great work and have many contacts and avenues for finding good homes for cats. Visit local private rescues and shelters – ones that your may be considering as an option for placement. Some are better run than others. Double check all their policies on placement. In the event your kitty ultimately goes to a private rescue organization, you want to be very sure they will be kept and cared for until a permanent and suitable home is found for them.
- DO GET THE WORD OUT – Tell everyone you know – neighbors, family, coworkers. Spread the word that you have a beautiful cat to rehome. Sometimes people you’d never guess might be considering a kitty addition or know someone who is. Give them pics and a bio of your cat to give to friends and relatives. Call cat groups, animal advocates.. ask them for any help they might have.
- DO’S AND DONT’S OF ADS – If time is short for rehoming, you may have no choice but to go straight to advertising in a local newspaper or Internet forum. These do produce results and attract pet lovers, but up for all the general public to view, they pose risks too.Do try to make your ad as eye-catching and unique as possible. Include a photo if possible and focus on the cat’s own beauty and appeal, it’s endearing and special traits. Be descriptive and include important health details – spayed/neutered, all shots, healthy, etc.Don’t list the qualities associated with the “monetary value” of the pet. Adjectives such as “purebred, gorgeous show cat, rare, expensive, etc.” can attract triflers and unscrupulous types like a beacon – particularly if offered free.
- DON’T OFFER ANY PET FOR FREE! – Most replies will be sincere and well-intentioned. Some might not be though, and you could be duped. Three potential risks that could surface with offers of free pets to the public include:- Giving away your pet, parting with it for nothing devalues it, and increases the chances of it being improperly cared for, possibly even mistreated. Taken with enthusiasm, it later may come to be viewed as an “easy-come-easy-go” freebie. It could wind up abandoned in a local shelter – a castoff of no worth.- Some people scour the ads looking for “anything” free they think they can sell, trade, or profit from in some way. These types have no intention of keeping your pet at all, only interested in its value as as an “item”.- There are also disturbing other scenarios that can befall pets placed trustingly and innocently as “free to good home”. The worst nightmare of the rehoming process, cruel intentions are more uncommon, but DO occur, and regularly.All these people seeking pets will carefully conceal their real agenda with slick smoothness in assuring the adopter of their honorable intentions.So, it’s not about “selling” your cat – it’s just protecting its best interests. The amount paid can be deferred with an exchange of food or cat items that they, the new caregivers will be needing, or through a donation to a cat shelter or rescue group.So, DO, PLEASE, always ask an adoption fee! Even a nominal amount of $30-50 deters the unscrupulous.
- DO SCREEN CAREFULLY – Mention in your ad that your pet will be placed in an approved and screened home ONLY. When talking to people, let them know you will need to visit the cat’s new home before placement, once more after 30 days, and will be calling for periodic updates after that. You don’t have to actually do all of this, but a sincere person should have no problem agreeing to this. This will get rid of dishonest and half-hearted inquiries.
- DON’T OMIT ANY DETAILS – The questions you ask the prospective new caregivers about themselves and their home environment will tell you if they sound right for your cat, but of course, your cat must be right for them too. Singing your kitty’s praises is desirable, but don’t minimize or omit behaviour that might be considered negative. If kitty avoids the litter box on occassion, shreds the furniture, or meows excessively, these are issues that prospective adopters need to know ahead of time. Don’t understate the grooming requirements – it’s an aspect many people are unaware of, but would be unwilling to commit to.
- DO FIND OUT THEIR VIEWS – Ask them about health issues such as pet diet, outdoor access and declawing before giving your own views. What about the pets they have now (if any)? Inside or out, claws or none, supermarket food or premium? What kind? Once the cat is gone, this is out of your hands really, but you can make up a written agreement listing your expectations for care, include the important stipulation that they must advise you if they are planning on rehoming themselves. A signed document brings a sense of obligation to most.
- DON’T APPEAR RUSHED – Even if you are, don’t relay a sense of urgency. (Fluffy has to go by Friday – it’s our moving day!). Take their names along with some notes, then ask them to call you back the next day for further talks. This gives you some time to consider them and offers them lots of time to “think about it”. Some won’t call again. Whether their intentions were not above-board, or they just thought you were too picky, it doesn’t really matter. You ARE picky, and have every right to be.The ones who do call back are the serious inquiries, the only ones you want to go any further with.