Can You Return a Cat after Adoption?

Not all adoption stories turn out successful or with a happy ending. If you feel guilty returning a cat after adoption, it’s not uncommon that this happens due to incompatibility and other issues.

Returning your cat after adoption if it has behavioral issues is valid reason to return the cat. Get in contact with the shelter for further assistance.

There are other things to address that we cannot explain in just a paragraph. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can return a cat after a failed adoption and why this happens.

How Do I Return a Cat to a Shelter?

Get in contact with the shelter and make sure to inform the staff the behavioral issues or personal situation you are going through so they know what to do with the cat after it is returned.

Don’t find a new shelter or a rescue organization to give the cat to. A different shelter or organization does not know the cat’s history if it requires special, and this will also cause stress and upset to the feline.

Read: Say Goodbye to Cat Allergies: 5 Natural Remedies for Relief

Is It Normal to Feel Regret after Adopting a Cat?

Owning a pet is such an exciting idea. The thought of coming home to a loveable and cuddly cat brings you happiness at the thought of it, but it’s different to some when it finally comes to adopting a cat.

Regretting your decision of adopting a cat comes from an overwhelming of nervousness that this small creature will be dependent on you for the entirety of its life and that it comes with responsibilities. This emotion is common in first-time owners and usually resolves after a few weeks of bonding with the cat.

If you really must, talk with the shelter or rescue organization you have gotten your cat from and explain to them how you’re feeling. Talking with a fellow cat owner also helps ease the feeling.

Read: The Unique Personality of the Bengal Cat: Do They Only Attach To One Person?

What to Do If You Regret Getting a Cat?

Before doing anything permanent, take the time to bond with your cat. Play with them, take them out on walks (and yes, they can), be physical with your affection like petting their head and caressing their fur.

If it’s really not working out anymore or you’re burdened with personal issues, consider rehoming them to someone who is open to cat adoption, an animal shelter, or a rescue organization. Be honest with your cat’s behavioral issues so they will know what to expect and what to do.

Read: Comparing the Asian Leopard Cat and the Ocelot: Which Is Right for You?

What Is a Good Reason to Return a Cat?

Cats are loveable pets deserving of a forever home, whether they’re from the shelter or licensed breeders. Unfortunately, some go through situations that cause them to learn behaviors and inflict stress to their owners and themselves.

  1. Aggressive and unpredictable behavior.
  2. Failure to get along with other pets.
  3. Failure to get along with children.
  4. Costly spending on an ailing or special cat.
  5. Difficulty with litter training.

Should I Return My Cat If I’m Allergic?

It’s a funny thing that some animal lovers are cursed with a pet allergy and so they can only admire these beautiful creatures from afar. It is not something you should ponder on further, being heavily allergic to cats is unfortunately an issue that you should return your cat.

However, before you go on rehoming your cat, consider investigating if your allergy comes from interacting with the cat or something else it has brought in from the outside or a cat product you are using.

Symptoms of cat allergy included eye inflammation, stuffy nose, a rash on face and neck and severe symptoms include coughing, and difficulty breathing, and a trigger for asthma.

For more manageable symptoms, you can do the following if you’d still like to keep your cat:

  • Wash your hands after having contact with the cat’s saliva, dander, fur, and urine.
  • Install an air cleaner.
  • Vacuum weekly and use a mask when cleaning.
  • Keep the cat out of your bedroom.
  • Wash your furniture covers frequently.

Do Cats Grieve When Rehomed?

Cats get affectionate, angry, and sad, and so they also grieve. If you plan of rehoming your cat instead of returning it, your cat will grieve their old home and will get sad of leaving their previous owner.

Suddenly rehoming a cat that has stayed with you for less than two weeks without gradual introduction to their new owner will cause them stress. They will express this feeling through aggression towards the new owner or by withdrawing into corners and areas where they will feel safe.

Read: The Fascinating Similarities and Differences Between Asian Leopard Cats and Bengal Cats

Is It Cruel to Return a Cat?

In instances when cats are returned, it’s usually for the betterment of the owner’s situation or the cat’s. What is cruel is keeping a cat when you don’t have the means to take care of its needs.

It is advisable to rehome the cat to an owner willing to an adoption or a shelter. If someday you’re in a better situation and would like to take back your furry friend, make sure to inform the carer of this possibility before it’s too late.

Why Are Adopted Cats Returned to Shelters?

There are many reasons why adopted cats are returned to shelters. Listed below are the more common issues:

  • House soiling. The cat urinates and defecates outside the litter box and some owners can’t find the time, effort, or have the knowledge to train the cat properly.
  • Aggression. The cat is hard to bond with, is quick to bite, scratch, attack, and hiss at the owner. They cause harm to the children or other pets in the house.
  • Health condition and special needs. It is expensive to care for cats suffering from health issues including blind and deaf cats that require a lot of adjustments for the owner.
  • Incompatibility. The owner just can’t seem to get along with the cat’s personality. Other pets also pick fights with the poor cat.
  • Homeowners not allowing pets. Apartment restrictions are sadly out of the owner’s control when it comes to taking in a beloved cat.
  • Allergies. Allergies vary per person but a few suffer from severe allergic reactions towards cats such as difficulty breathing and extreme rash.

In a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), researchers have come to find out that these are similar reasons why pets are given up to shelters.

Read: Does My Cat Need to Wear A Cone After Neutering?

How Often Do People Return Cats?

In a study recently conducted by researcher Hawes and company, 57% of cats that were owned for over 60 days were returned to the shelter. Within two weeks of being adopted, 27% of cats were returned.

Within those two weeks of adopting the cat, it is a crucial period for the animal to adjust in its new environment and the owner is just starting to know the cat. After two months, the owner has decided what to do with the cat whether to return them or keep them.


Returning a cat after a failed adoption is a sensible act to do when you know to yourself you cannot keep the cat anymore as you intended to be. Reasons can be behavioral issues, failure to get along with other animals or the children, or other more personal reasons.

Don’t give the cat to a new shelter or an unprepared owner especially if the cat has behavioral issues or special and medical needs. Giving it back to the old shelter will be more appropriate as the staff will know what to do the next time they plan to adopt him out.