Talking to friends and family and checking with veterinarians are good starting points when you need to find a good home for a cat. From there, you can turn to print advertisements or online websites. Animal therapy organizations and shelters sometimes work as well, but space is often limited, and they sometimes are more complicated in terms of the regulations involved. Regardless of which option you pick, tips such as being completely honest in your ads, attaching a cost, neutering or spaying, conducting interviews with potential owners and using a formal contract all can help make sure your pet finds a place where it will be loved and happy.
Search and Placement Options
Friends and Family
A good place to start when looking for a good home for your cat is to talk with friends and family, because these people often are personally familiar with the animal from being around you, and because you likely already have a good sense of how they might take care of a pet. They usually are close in terms of location, making an exchange relatively uncomplicated. In some cases, you might even be able to visit, which can make the transition less stressful.
Through their work, veterinarians often know of people who want to find a companion for an animal they already have, or who are looking to replace one that has passed away. Their clients also are likely to understand the importance of quality pet health care, because they're already showing that they are willing to put the time and money into seeing the professional. Vets are a good resource for finding rescue agencies or owners that might be willing to shelter the cat humanely until it can be placed, as well.
Many newspapers offer free listing services for ads that only run for three to four days and are for items below a certain price, so this can be a good, inexpensive way to alert others that you have a cat that needs a new owner. You also can post notes on bulletin boards and kiosks. Individuals often create these kinds of materials on their own at home using a computer, but you also might be able to do it at your local library or print shop.
The majority of animal support agencies now have websites, some of which let people post ads for pets that need new homes. There are also general advertising sites that let people post notices, which can be especially useful because they're typically filtered by your location. People physically don't have to be at the place you've posted a flyer with this option, which is a big advantage when compared to regular print advertisements. Typically, these sites won't charge for you to put up something, but you might need to sign up for a free membership or set up an account first.
When you are looking for a good home for your cat using the Internet, social networking sites are another option to explore. This is sometimes the best choice because the people on most individuals' contacts lists aren't strangers. Even if the people who initially see your message can't take the animal, they might know someone who can, and they can pass the information along.
Animal Therapy Organizations
Research studies have shown that having animals around to interact with and pet has measurable, significant emotional and physical benefits for people, so some groups actively train them for use in therapy. They routinely bring them into nursing homes, for example. Depending on the temperament of your cat, you might be able to have one of these organizations take over its care, but you'll probably need to allow time for this transition, because many jurisdictions require that therapy animals be formally trained and certified.
For many individuals, finding a good home for a cat comes down to getting help from an animal shelter or similar group. In an ideal situation, these organizations can screen potential adopters, and trained professionals and volunteers ensure quality care. More often, however, they are very overcrowded, and many do not have the financial or manpower resources to accept an animal you cannot keep. They frequently focus on helping strays instead.
Depending upon the policies of the shelter, workers might euthanize your pet if the shelter cannot find someone to take it or if it is ill. If you are seriously opposed to this happening, groups with a no-kill policy are available, but it can be hard to find one with open space. They likely will ask for a donation to cover at least some of the costs of maintenance and upkeep, but you'll gain more time to find a new owner.
One big consideration if you go the shelter or rescue agency route is that, in general, the decision about what constitutes a good home isn't in your hands. Some people choose to see surrendering animals to these groups as a last resort for this reason. They would rather hold onto a pet a little longer or pay for boarding rather than have no say in who eventually adopts their cat.
Clarity in Advertising
Even though there are many different ways to find a loving, responsible owner, a rule of thumb that's typically good to follow is to always be honest as you advertise. Portraying your cat as perfectly healthy when it actually has medical issues, for example, not only can cause hard feelings between you and the new owner, but also can endanger the animal. It also can waste time, because a lack of clarity can encourage contacts from people who won't want your pet, or whose personality and circumstances wouldn't be a good fit for it.
When people get desperate to find someone to take a pet, they sometimes offer it for free. Just as being unclear or untruthful in your advertising can invite trouble, so can giving your cat away. People who are willing to hand over some cash for an animal typically don't have the intent of harming it, and they usually are financially in a position to provide things like medical care, food and extras, such as toys.
Neutering and Spaying
Many people are unwilling to take an animal that has not been spayed or neutered, because it sometimes results in negative behaviors such as sexual aggression. With a female, they often don't want to take the risk of having a litter of kittens to deal with later on. Having these procedures done can make your pet seem more attractive to adopters. If you can't afford to pay for this care, you might be able to work out an arrangement to reduce overall costs for the new owner, such as providing toys, food and other necessities, such as a litter box.
With a "good" home loosely defined as one that fits the animal's personality and interaction needs on top of providing basics like food, experts often recommend interviewing potential adopters. They stress that doing this is one of the few ways to catch people with bad motives for taking the animal, including those who might sell the animal to a research company or who don't intend to care for it correctly. Ask questions like "Have you ever had a pet before?", "Why do you want the cat?" and "Do you understand how long it can live and the responsibility involved in care?" Professionals sometimes recommend asking separate questions of anyone who accompanies the interviewee, because some individuals will bring other people along — even children — to give a good impression about the home.
Another tip that frequently helps is to draw up a formal contract about the exchange. It doesn't need to be particularly fancy, but it should say that the new owner agrees to provide proper veterinary care, and it should reserve your right to take the pet back if you discover mistreatment. This is also a way to get identification and contact information on file. A person who is sincere about wanting the cat for legitimate reasons should have no problem signing this document, because he or she will know that you're just protecting the animal.