Advice for adopting or rehoming a cat

Whether you’re looking to rehome a cat for a friend, or you’d like to adopt from a local rehoming centre, here’s all you need to know about cat adoption.

Why rehome?

There are many reasons why people have to get rid of their pets. Quite often it’s due to a change in circumstances, such as moving home.

Sometimes pet owners become too old or ill to take care of their animals, and on occasion children can even develop allergies to the family’s pet. 

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that there are many cats sitting in rescue centres, and sadly it’s often the older ones who struggle to find a loving new home.

If you’ve always wanted a cat, but don’t have the time to commit to raising and training a kitten, adoption could be the answer. The next steps will help you to understand what happens when you decide to give a cat a new start in life.


Start local


Some rehoming centres are open for public visiting, so if you have one nearby why not pop in? Otherwise, do some research online. Some adoption centres hold open days when you can register and meet their cats, others will work on an appointment-only basis, but will advertise their current kitties on their website.

You’ll also find some pets looking for new homes on pet listings and forums, but ensure that you don’t enter any rehoming agreements without following the process you’d follow with a rehoming centre.


Find your perfect partner


When you register with a homing centre they will want to know exactly what type of cat you’re looking for so they can find the best match for you.

Consider the breed, colour, temperament and how the cat should fit with your lifestyle. Do you want an indoor cat, or would you prefer a cat that’s happy to be outside?

Do you want a lap cat, or one that’s happy to play with young children or other pets? Are you looking for one cat or two? Many rehoming centres will look to rehome siblings together.

A homing officer will pay you a visit once you’re registered. They will want to understand more about your home and your circumstances – for example, whether you’re living on a busy main road or in a quiet cul-de-sac – to determine the kind of cat they could home with you.

But it’s also a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you have about the process, so make sure you write down everything you want to ask before they arrive.


Meet your new feline friend


Before you can rehome a pet it’s really important to meet them. Not only for you to check whether the pet has the temperament that you’re expecting, but also for the cat to see how it feels about you.

It won’t be a completely natural setting, but if the cat lashes out or shows any signs of extreme anger you might want to revisit on another occasion and see whether she’s more relaxed.

A rehoming centre will take time to readjust animals that have come from backgrounds where they may have been mistreated, to ensure they’re happy around people.

But if you’re rehoming from someone privately you won’t have this reassurance so be wary.


What does my fee cover?


Almost all rehoming centres will ask for a donation of between £50-£100 for your cat. However they will ensure that all vaccinations are up to date, that the cat is neutered, microchipped, and that they’ve been treated for fleas and worms.

Some shelters have even teamed with insurance companies to provide 6 weeks free pet insurance too.

We work with the RSPCA to provide theirs.

Most rehoming centres are run purely by volunteers, so your contribution is important to the charity to enable them to keep up their good work.


Preparing for your new arrival


Make sure you have all the essentials ready; food and food bowls, litter tray, and cat litter.

The cat rehoming centre or foster parent will be able to tell you which food your cat’s been used to eating, so try to keep things as consistent as possible for them as they settle in. It will help them to adjust.

Your cat will need to spend the first couple of weeks inside, adjusting to her new surroundings, so you might want to also invest in a scratching post and a few toys.

Provide somewhere safe and secure for your cat to hide, such as a cat bed or cardboard box.

They’ll be very nervous when they arrive and will look for hiding places.


Keep calm and carry on


You may be expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet as soon as your cat arrives. But don’t be disappointed if she spends her first few days in hiding.

She’s got a whole new environment, with new noises, and new smells, to get used to, and she’ll be very timid initially.

As her confidence grows she’ll start to explore and wander around the house, sniffing out each room and getting to know the family. Keep things as calm and quiet as possible over the first week or so to avoid panicking her.

After two weeks, your cat can venture outside, though you might want to be out in the garden with her the first time she goes out.

She probably won’t go very far, but she’ll be gaining in confidence with each step.




If you’ve rehomed through a centre they might do a follow-up visit, or at least call you to see how things are getting on.

Don’t be afraid to contact them though if you need to ask any questions or you’re worried about any of your cat’s behaviour.

Also be sure to register your kitty with your local vet, and if you don’t have insurance, it’s a good idea to look into some, as even the most basic cover can help reduce your vet fees in the event of accidents.

But most of all, enjoy your new family member and feel good that you’ve given a cat a fresh start in life – they’ll reward you for it with love and affection for many years to come.

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