If you are thinking about rehoming your personal cat or if you have found a stray cat that you cannot keep, here are some ideas and suggestions for you that we hope will be helpful. Like all rescue groups, our hope is that we can help you find a way to keep your pet or integrate your found cat into your home. We strongly believe that pets are for life and would like to provide some suggestions and resources to assist you. We know that sometimes it is not possible to keep a pet though, so we also offer some helpful suggestions on finding a new home for your pet.
First off, I want to dispel some misconceptions that people have about cats.
- Dropping a cat (or any domestic animal) off in a field or the woods is not a kindness, it is a death sentence. Very few domestic animals, especially young ones, will survive that kind of abandonment. Just because you may have seen your cat catch a mouse or bird outside does not mean they can find enough food and water to survive. Also, because they were not raised by a wild mother, they do not have the skills to avoid predators or defend themselves. No, they will not romp in the woods living a carefree life. The most likely scenario is that they become weakened by starvation and then be attacked and eaten while still alive. If you drop them off near a home, they could very well be run over by a car. Not a humane end for any companion animal. Please, do not drop off any animal in woods, fields or on someone else’s doorstep.
- That cute brother and sister pair of kittens you took in WILL breed with each other despite being related and can reproduce at 4 months of age!!! Female cats can have 3 litters of kittens a year with 4-6+ kittens in each litter. Doing the math you can see what will happen if they are not fixed. Don’t wait to spay/neuter your cat. There are low cost spay/neuter services in Marion County that can help with the cost. To read about fixing your pet, please click here for the Fix at 4 site. On the site, you can click “Get My Fix” and by putting in your zip code, you can get a listing of low cost spay/neuter services in your area.
- Do you or someone in your home have a pet allergy? Although many doctors say to get rid of your pet, about 30% of people choose not to. There are steps to try first. Please check out this article on how to help manage the situation – http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/are-you-allergic-your-pet
- If you have found a stray cat, or they have found you, your first step should be to try and see if the cat has an owner. Marion County Animal Services or your local veterinarian can quickly scan the cat for a microchip. If the cat has one, you can contact the chip company who can provide you with the name of the last registered owner.
- If the cat does not have a microchip, call Marion County Animal Services (352-671-8700) and the Marion County Humane Society (352-854-8230) to see if anyone has reported a missing cat that matches the one you have.
- If the cat is friendly and allows you to pet and pick it up, please consider keeping it inside until you can find a new home. Staying outside full time presents many dangers to cats. The best option would be a quiet room where the cat can feel safe. If you have other cats, it is important to keep the new cat isolated from your other cats until you know, through a visit to your local veterinarian, that the new cat does not have any contagious diseases that could spread to your current cats. Provide the new cat with their own food and water dishes. Do not share dishes with other cats without thoroughly washing them between uses/cats.
- If the cat is not microchipped and/or no one claims it and you cannot keep the cat, you can call local rescue groups to see if they have room for it. Please know that “kitten season”, which in Florida runs from spring into the fall months, often sees shelters filled to capacity and beyond. For the best interests of all the cats, shelters cannot just “take one more”. Shelters and foster homes have to consider the health of their current cats and how much time and resources are available to care for them. Cats who are housed with too many other cats often develop health issues revolving around stress. We want to save them all, but have to have limits to protect the health and well being of our cats.
- In addition to calling local shelters, you can also post the cat on Petfinder through a local rescue group that uses Petfinder. Please check with local rescue groups for more information.
- Don’t forget to ask your friends, church members and family if they would be interested in the cat. Some local animal rescue groups can help with spay/neuter and shots so those costs can be mitigated. We want to help cats find and stay in good homes. Click here for a list of low cost spay/neuter options. You can also check out Fix At 4 for more information. Marion County Animal Services also provides low cost rabies shots and microchipping.
- At Petfinder.com you can search for local rescue groups by zip code. This list does not just have cat rescue groups and not all groups take in rehomed cats. You will need to call organizations to see who might have room. Again a caution, not all groups offer the same level of care. Please arrange to take the cat to their facility to see what it is like. Ask about their care protocols and adoption procedures. Ask who their vet on call is and follow up with the vet.
- Please beware of any individual who claims he/she will take your whole litter or multiple cats. It is almost certain that he or she is not interested in having them as pets. Tragically, many cats, kittens, puppies and small dogs are taken and then used as “bait” by people who participate in dog fighting. They will be torn apart. Pets are also used as bait for alligator hunters or as food for large reptiles. Pets are also collected by individuals to sell to research labs where they will almost certainly be killed after being experimented on. Giving animals away in front of grocery stores, at flea markets or on the side of the road at best may lead to impulse decisions and at worst to a painful death for your pet. Sounds horrible? It is. Our domestic animals depend on us to take care of them. They are defenseless.
- If you cannot find another home for your cat, Marion County Animal Services does accept all cats from county residents. Due to the high volume of cats taken in, about 80% are euthanized. It gives them a 1 in 5 chance, which is better than being dumped somewhere or falling into the hands of someone who will abuse them. At least they will have a humane death, if it happens.
- Some of the most heartbreaking calls we receive are from people who are moving into hospice or nursing homes or who have a family member who has passed that has a pet that needs a new home. Tragically, sometimes neighbors call to say the cats were just put outside the house, like garbage, when the family settled the estate. These poor confused cats are just left to fend for themselves and, unless taken in by a kind neighbor, usually meet a heartbreaking end. Often these cats are healthy, indoor love bugs, who have been well cared for their entire lives. Suddenly their lives are turned upside down and their owners, if alive, agonize over their babies and what will happen to them. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all owners, not just those who are elderly, to “plan for their pets”. Just as you would have plans for what was to happen to your children if you were to die or become unable to care for them, you need to discuss with family members, church members or friends what will happen to your pets in that case. We are developing a “Planning for your Pets” section on our website that will be coming soon. Please look for that in the near future. However, until that is up, please do not put off identifying caregivers for your companion animals and make sure you continue to check with them about their willingness to care for one or more of your pets.
- Make sure your cat is up to date on routine vaccinations and health care. Have your vet print out a copy of your cat’s medical history. If your cat has special needs, it is important to share that with anyone interested in your cat. Hiding their health issues can lead to your cat being dumped by the new owners who may be unwilling to deal with your cat’s special needs. Most rescue groups have members who work with special needs cats. Let people know.
- If you are facing a challenging situation with your cat, such as a job loss, new baby or relocation, there are strategies that can help you keep your pet. For example, local animal rescue agencies often have funds available for pet food. Perhaps a friend could temporarily take custody of your pet until you are back on your feet after a job loss. Most people would like to keep their pet, but may need some help to work through their options. Most local animal rescue agencies have people who can talk to you about ways to keep your pet. For listings of local veterinarians and low cost vaccine clinics, please check our Resources section. For low cost spay/neuter options, please click here or visit Fix At 4 for more information.
- If your reason for rehoming your cat is behavioral, PLEASE contact us so we can provide you with some suggestions to help with the behavioral challenges. Most issues, including litter box problems and scratching CAN be resolved without you having to give up your pet. Our members have been collectively caring for cats for decades and have a wealth of knowledge they can share to help you and your cat.
- If your cat is a purebred, you can do an internet search for rescue groups that take in purebred cats. For example you might enter “Siamese cat rescue Florida”.
- You can list your cat on Petfinder.com through a local agency that has a presence there. Those listings are usually called “Rehoming”. Be sure you provide good clear, engaging pictures of your cat.
- Please realize that it usually takes time to rehome a cat. Calling a rescue group and saying you have one week to find your cat a new home makes it almost impossible, especially during kitten season. Start as soon as you know you need to rehome your cat.
- For the safety of your cat, please arrange to deliver the cat to the new home. This will give you a chance to see what kind of home your cat will be going into. Along that same line, do not emphasize all the goodies you want to give along with the cat. That may encourage some people to take the cat to get the accessories. Be aware that every community, including ours, has hoarders in it. Although these people may have started with the best of intentions, somewhere along the way they lost control of their addiction. Cats in these situations suffer greatly. Do your homework to be sure your cat is going into a safe, loving home that is ready and able to care for him or her.