Is Rehoming a Cat Cruel?

Cat owners often face a tough choice for a variety of reasons. They must give up their cat. It’s hard to decide if rehoming is harder on the cat or the cat owner. 

Is it cruel to rehome a cat? It isn’t cruel if you are doing it in the best interest of the cat. Four options exist in giving up your pet: give away to a family member or friend, find a rescue, give to a stranger, or surrender to a shelter. All are efforts of last resort. 

Read on to find out about rehoming a cat and how you can be sure it’s the right thing for both of you. 

Why People Rehome?

People rehome cats for a variety of reasons. Most of them are based on good intentions gone wrong. People will get a pet with the intention of keeping it until it dies but sometimes life takes a turn and they can’t keep it any longer. 

Some reasons people rehome a pet is because they are moving and can’t take the pet with them, got a new job and are no longer home to properly care for it, having a baby and the responsibility is too much, divorce, lost job, or diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness. In some cases, the pet owner dies and others must find a home for the animal. 

It’s a situation where lifestyle changes mean the person can no longer properly care for the cat. It is not cruel to rehome a cat when you can’t take care of it. It would be cruel not to. 

Read: Do Cats Adopt Kittens?

Other Common Reasons to Rehome

One reason for rehoming is a member of the family discovers they are allergic to cats. Another reason is an older cat doesn’t like the new cat. 

Both of these reasons can be overcome without rehoming. Those allergic to cats can take shots to avoid sneezes and sniffles. While some cats want to be the only ones,  there are ways to introduce the two and encourage them to get along. It may time some time but it can be done. 

Read: Why Does My Cat Sneeze So Much at Night?

Some will rehome a cat when they get pregnant because they believe women can catch toxoplasmosis from cleaning the litter box or that the cat will suck the breath out of babies. 

Experts say neither is true. 

Cats don’t genetically have toxoplasmosis but can get it from eating birds. You won’t be exposed to it if your cat doesn’t eat birds.

Cats and babies can live together nicely. Cats can be protective of the baby. 

One theory is that a cat will lay on a baby for warmth and, perhaps, the cat will lick the baby’s mouth because it smells milk.  Both can cause safety issues. It’s best to shut the door to the baby’s room so the cat can’t get in while the child is sleeping. 

Read: Do Cats Adjust To Your Sleep Schedule?

Rehoming Responsibilities

Those seeking to rehome a cat can do things to make it easier for you, the cat, and the new cat parent. 

  • Make sure the cat is spayed or neutered and have current vaccinations.
  • Don’t give them to just anyone and never advertise “free to a good home.” Many unsavory people take these animals and sell them to animal laborers or use them for dogfighting. Make sure you know who you are rehoming to, get a phone number, an email address, and check-in with them a week or so after you’ve rehomed your cat.
  • Visit the home before you hand over your cat. This will give you peace of mind.
  • Take your cat to the home when you are ready to give it to the new owner instead of the owner picking it up. The transition is easier if you see how your cat does walking around while you talk to the owner for a few minutes.
  • Let the new family know they can contact you if it doesn’t work out. Contact the breeder first if the cat is purebred. Many breeders will take them back or help you rehome them.
  • Contact an animal rescue if you can’t find a family member or friend to take them. Rescues work hard to rehome animals and have many foster families who will take them.

Read: What Do House Cats Do At Night? 

Kitty Depression

A cat can become depressed when they go to a new home. Sometimes, the depression can be deep and the cat will stop eating and drinking for a few days. The answer is to give them fluids and vitamins until they perk up. 

The cat may hide a week or so in his new home but that is normal. Cats focus on location so those accepting a rehomed cat must be patient and not let them out of the house until they’ve adjusted. 

Read: Is My Bengal Cat Depressed?


When will a cat adjust to a new owner?

It depends on the cat, its personality, its age, and how long it was with the previous owner. Most can start adjusting to a new family in two to five days but others may take longer. 

Does changing owners stress a cat?

Cats are sensitive to changes in their environment so changing owners can be incredibly stressful. Give the cat lots of attention and work on the change in small steps. Be patient. 

How do you prepare a cat for rehoming?

The new owner will need many things for the cat. If you are rehoming your cat, provide them with many of the cat’s items so your cat will settle in nicely. That includes the litter box, a bed, food, and water bowls, and grooming items and toys. 

How long should you keep a cat inside after rehoming?

Keep the cat inside for at least two weeks after rehoming. Some cats will try to escape to return to a previous home but most will settle in if you put familiar scents around them. 

How do you introduce a cat to a new home?

You do it gradually. It’s best to restrict the cat to one room at first and keep other animals away from it. Keep a litter box nearby. Expand his area to other parts of the house once he is comfortable in one room. 

Read: Do Indoor Cats Need Baths?