cat receiving attention at veterinary surgery

Rehoming a cat: what to do if you can no longer look after your pet

“A pet is for life, not just for Christmas.” We’ve all heard the saying, and no responsible pet owner would welcome a cat to their home if they ever had the intention of giving her up in the future. But sometimes life throws changes at us that we couldn’t predict, and giving up our cat is the only possible option.

Perhaps you’re offered a promotion which means relocating overseas. Maybe you’ve developed a serious allergy to your pet, which means keeping her risks damaging your health. Maybe your own health has deteriorated, and you need to move to a nursing home.

Whatever the reason you’re considering rehoming your cat, we know this isn’t a decision you’re taking lightly – so please, go easy on yourself. 

This article aims to help you make the rehoming process as straightforward as possible, to give your pet the best chance of a long and happy life. 

Before you start…

Always take time to consider your options. The more time you have, the better chance you have of making the right choice for both you and your cat.

The options for rehoming your cat include giving her to an animal shelter, finding a new home with a friend, family member or colleague, or temporary fostering.

Animal shelters and permanent rehoming centres

Finding a permanent rehoming centre is often the best chance of ensuring your cat gets adopted by a loving family. Staff will ask questions about your circumstances but they won’t judge you for your decision. 

Any good animal shelter will interview prospective new owners to ensure they have the time, space and personal circumstances to provide a loving home for your cat – and most rescue centres carry out home checks on any prospective owner.

The downside…

Many good animal shelters have a waiting list. Some may ask for a donation to rehome your cat (though, unless your reasons for rehoming are financial, most responsible owners will gladly contribute). 

Private rehoming

If you prefer to have total control over your choice of new owner for your cat or kitten, ask around to see if you can find a willing new owner. Consider pinning up a poster on the notice board at work. Ask friends and family to spread the word. Even speak to your local vet to see if they can help. 

If you can rehome your cat with a friend or family member you’ll find it easier knowing she’s gone to a good home. If you’re able to give her to someone you know well, you may even get the chance to visit from time to time, or be able to keep up-to-date with her progress through photos or emails.

The downside…

Don’t rush into your decision, and always interview prospective new owners in person. Avoid giving your cat to someone you don’t know, and avoid offering her as ‘free to a good home’ which may attract the wrong type of potential owner.

Temporary rehoming

Perhaps your circumstances mean you need to give up your pet temporarily – maybe you’re going into hospital for an indefinite stay, or you’ve been posted abroad with your job. If this is the case, you need a cat fostering programme. Use the internet or speak to your local vet to find details of your nearest temporary rehoming centre or service. 

The downside…

Like many good animal shelters, temporary rehoming services often have a waiting list, so always plan ahead if possible, and take your time to make your decision.

Need advice on rehoming your cat?

For expert advice on the best ways to rehome your cat, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.