Guest Post by MeLinda Hughes of Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue
The worst has happened. For some reason, you are forced to re-home your cat. Whatever the reason, you have to take your next steps carefully. It is not just enough to make the decision. You have to make a commitment to placing your cat in the best home possible. That takes time and planning. Waiting until the last minute hoping your situation will change is not in the best interest of your cat. Instead, you need to start a multi-pronged plan to find the best forever home for your cat.
Start by creating a resume for your cat. Yes, you are basically looking for a “job” for your cat, a job that will include room, board, and a lifetime of love. First, you need to list your cat’s basic qualifications: age, breed, favorite foods, favorite treats and toys, and preferred litter. Make certain you have up-to-date veterinary information (and yes, a good owner will make certain the cat is altered, vaccinated, FIV/FeLV tested before finding her a home). Your current veterinarian’s contact information should be included. Also, discuss your cat’s personality. Is your cat friendly, aloof, needy, active, sedentary, calm? Does she like to play, take long naps, spend time with you, watch birds through the windows? Be sure to list the adoption fee, and yes, you should always ask for a reasonable adoption fee (not less than $100). This is not for you or for vetting; it is to make certain anyone wanting to adopt your cat is serious about adopting her. It can protect your cat from unscrupulous people.
Once you have your cat’s resume, it is time to start soliciting the right home. Please be certain to screen potential adopters carefully. Start with trusted friends, family, and colleagues. It is easiest for a cat to go to a home with someone you already know, preferably a person who has been in your home. If you don’t find the right person here, it is time to start advertising, and no, I do not mean on sites like Craigslist or Kijiji. Create a flyer with a good recent picture of your cat and basic information. Include the type of home you are searching for your cat. Include your own contact information. Remember that this flyer, like the resume, is a key to finding the right home. Once you have the flyer ready, start placing it in places like your veterinarian’s office, pet grooming salons, pet stores, and churches. You can also list at http://www.rescueme.org , a site dedicated to helping cats find homes. You might also want to contact trustworthy local rescues that can list your cat on their petfinder site.
Do not overlook the power of Facebook. If you are not already on pages that place the breed of your cat and local rescues, then friend them or like them. Ask the moderator of that site if you can post your cat. Most of these rescuers are happy to help. If you do decide to place an ad on Craig’s List, please be very cautious. Craig’s List can be a wonderful tool, but it is also a place for unscrupulous people to find “free” cats. Again, you must ask for a decent adoption fee and stay with it. Don’t let someone talk you out of paying an adoption fee. If the potential adopter can’t or won’t pay an adoption fee, this is not the right person for your cat.
Once people contact you, you need to be sure to screen your potential adopters carefully. Here are some of the questions you need to ask: Do you plan to declaw (if your cat is not declawed), do you allow your cats to go outside, are your pets current on all needed veterinary care, are you prepared for the vetting needs of the cat being adopted, are you prepared for any grooming needs, what is your history with cats, what other humans and animals live in the home? You also should insist on speaking with the person’s veterinarian. Ask the staff at the veterinarian to verify the vetting of any current animals in the house as well as general impressions of the potential adopter.
Once you have interviewed the potential adopters, it is time to evaluate whether this is the right person to take home your cat. Be certain to be honest about any bad habits your cat might have. Dishonesty will only result in your cat being returned or even worse, dumped at a shelter. If you can, ask the person to come to your house to meet your kitty. Please note that it is not likely going to be “love at first sight”; that is a common misconception with adopters and people seeking to find a home for their cat. Don’t worry if they do not immediately bond. See how they interact. Encourage play with the adopter and your cat. If the adopter is ready to take your cat home, it is your choice if you want to say good-bye now or later, but do not rush into it. If you have more than one adopter, tell the potential adopter that you will let him or her know shortly. Be sure to do so.
When you send your cat home, you should be sure to send home a well-stocked care package. A sack of your cat’s food, cans of the canned food your cat prefers, your cat’s carrier, your cat’s favorite treats, your cat’s favorite toys, your cat’s bed (or an article of your clothing with your scent), any medications, and a sack of your cat’s litter are the minimum items you should include. If the adopter wishes, include your cat’s sanitized litterbox. You want to help your cat make the transition into her new home as smooth as possible. Sending home a carrier that your cat has spent time in can actually provide her with a temporary safe haven in her new home. Having her own bed and other items with your scent will make her more comfortable. You want to make the transition as easy as possible for your cat into her new home.
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We all hope that you never have to re-home your cat, but if you do, please be certain you are cautious and careful to find the best home for your cat. You are literally determining her life.