What You Must Learn Today Before Rehoming A Cat


Are you planning on adopting a cat from the animal shelter? Or, are you giving away your cat? Either way, you must be worried about how well the cat will take the rehoming process.

Moving cats from home to home can be an exhausting process. Everyone wants the cat to be happy, whether you are giving it away or adopting it. So, do cats get sad when rehomed? That’s what this guide is all about. I will go over what cats go through when rehomed and give tips on making everything easier.

Cats do get sad when rehomed. Most cats will miss the previous owners, especially if they bonded well. They will also miss their previous home because they are creatures of habit. Cats can adapt to the new home and the new owners after some time. 

That’s as straightforward as it gets. Keep reading to find out what cats go through and what can you do.

What Happens To Cats When They Are Rehomed

What Happens To Cats When They Are Rehomed

Do you already own a cat? If so, you must have noticed how used it is to your house or apartment. It knows every nook and cranny. It knows where it can go, where it can find stuff, etc…

Well, cats own territory, and they don’t like change. So, when they move to another house, they don’t take that well. First of all, the whole surroundings will weird them out. They will be in a defensive state because they don’t know anything about the area.[ Source ]

Being in a defensive state is stressful. That means the cats will not be in a good emotional state until they figure out where they are. We can’t really know what goes through the cat’s mind but it’s certainly not something joyful.

The cat can’t be sure if it’s coming back home as well. Although some people say that cats understand that the previous owners are not coming back. So, that just makes the emotional state even worse.

Do Cats Miss Their Previous Owners

When it comes to missing the previous owners, it depends. Most cats will miss their old owners. It depends on how the owner treated the cat. My guess is that the majority of pet owners treat their pets quite well. Even if they don’t know much about cats, they still love them and they show it.

So, it makes sense that a rehomed cat will miss the previous cat owners. A human can create quite a special bond with their feline friend. Although some cats don’t show it, they actually love their owners.

It’s not a surprise that rehomed cats miss their previous owners. Some cats take it better than others but they still miss their companion. Family pets are especially attached to their owners.

I have seen some cats that have been rehomed refuse food for a week. Others just pick a place in the new house and they don’t leave it. It really depends on a lot of factors how the cat will react to the new home. But most of the cats, get sad when the owner leaves them.

[Related Article: Do Cats Come Back Home After They Run Away Or Go Missing]

Do Rehomed Cats Adapt To New Owners

Although cats get quite sad when rehomed and they miss their old owners, that doesn’t mean they will stay like that. Yes, cats get attached to their owner but they are also quite resourceful and adaptable.

The first few weeks will be a stressful time for the cat. But give it sufficient time, and the cat will understand that this is its new home. It will start bonding with the new owner and everything will be alright.

The cat will still remember the previous owners but it won’t miss them as much. It will get a new life, and it will find a new human friend. I’m not saying that there won’t be any behavior issues but after a period of time, that will be gone too.

How To Rehome A Cat

How To Rehome A Cat 

Now, the hardest thing to do, giving up a cat. I know that some of you came here specifically for that. You want to give up your furry friend. I know how that feels. I have been in a situation where circumstances made me give up a pet.

No one wants to rehome a cat voluntarily but in some situations, there is no other solution. So, we just have to face reality and give up our cat. But there is still something that we can do.

We can make the rehoming process as comfortable as it can be for the cat. I believe you still love your cat with all your heart, so you want it to be happy in its new home. How do we do that though?

  1. Find the future owner.
    First of all, you have to find a reliable owner for the cat. Preferably, it’s someone you know. Make sure that the new owner will take good care of the cat. Also, see if the new owner wants a cat for the moment. Some people will give up after a few months. So, make sure that the new owner will not rehome the cat again. It’s hard to find new owners, so this may be the hardest step. My advice is to avoid animal shelters. You can’t know if the cat will be adopted.
  2. Rehome multiple cats together. 
    If you have multiple cats, and you are giving away all of them. Find a home that will accept all of them. The whole process of rehoming will just be easier if they are together. If you separate them, they are going to have a hard time for the first few months.
  3. Discuss feeding habits with the future owner. 
    The new owner should know how your cat was being fed. That means the owner should be informed of when the cat eats during the day. Also, tell the future owner what kind of food the cat likes and dislikes. If they want to change up the diet, help them out. Tell them to not do it immediately so the cat won’t be stressed out too much. Make sure that the new owner changes the diet after the cat has adapted to the new home.
  4. Ask if the new owners already own other cats. 
    Make sure the new home is suitable for your cat. Other pets like dogs will stress out the cat, especially if it had bad experiences with dogs before. Ask if the new owner has kids. If your cat had bad experiences with kids that’s something to take into account too.
  5. Advice the new owners to start with a dedicated room. 
    Usually, pet owners introduce the cat to the whole house immediately. That’s not so bad but it’s not good either. The thing is, rehomed cats are stressed out. And, introducing them to the whole house can induce stress even more. So, a small room dedicated to the cat is best. This will make the whole process a lot easier and get used to daily routines.
  6. Give the new owners a blanket or a toy the cat loves. 
    What do we do in stressful times? We do something that reminds us of comfortable times. Well, it’s the same with cats. If they have something to remind them of comfort, adapting to the new home will be easier. So, give the new owners a blanket that the cat used or a toy that is loved. You can also give the litter box you already own. Cats get used to litter boxes so they have trouble changing.
  7. Advise the future owners on spraying a pheromone dispenser.
    The last thing to do is maybe spray a pheromone dispenser for cats. This product reduces stress-induced behavior in cats. It may not work on all cats but it’s worth a try. For a sign of goodwill, you can buy the pheromone.

Can I Visit My Cat

Can I Visit My Cat

This begs the question: Should I visit my cat after rehoming? Some of you may think that this will make the rehoming process easier but that’s not true. It will just confuse the cat even more.

It’s best to visit the cat once it gets used to the new owners. Once the cat is well-situated, you can visit it. It usually takes 3-4 weeks for the cat to get used to the new owners. So, just let 3-4 weeks pass after you can visit.

Can I Get My Cat Back

I guess some of you can’t keep the cat only for a year, after that you will want the cat back. This is possible, although it will be stressful for the cat to go through the same process twice, it will get used to the home again.

Most likely, the cat will still remember you even after years have passed, and it won’t have a hard time rehoming. However, it will still remember the previous owners, so that’s that. The hard part is finding pet owners that will agree to keep a cat only for a year.

So, if you are rehoming your cat with the idea to take it back after some time, think about it twice. Do you want your cat to go through the same thing twice? Can you find someone that will agree to this?

My advice is to ask a friend if this is what you want to do. If you have a friend that will agree to keep your cat for a year, then that’s great. That way, the friend can come to visit after you come back. Also, it may be someone that the cat is already used to.

[Related Article: How To Travel With A Cat And Litter Box On A Road Trip Guide]

How To Adopt A Cat With Previous Owners

How To Adopt A Cat With Previous Owners

Well, some of you may be here because you want to adopt a cat with previous owners. So, you are worried about how the cat will adapt to your home. Everything we already said applies here. Some behavioral issues are expected, some are alarming. You need to make the cat comfortable. Here are some tips.

  1. Prepare a room for the cat. 
    You need to prepare for the first time the cat enters your place. The cat should feel welcome. Immediately bring the cat to the dedicated room. The room should have a cozy place for her, maybe a box. Trays for water and food should be there. The litter box as well. Maybe spray some pheromones.
  2. Find out the cat’s daily habits.
    You should know everything the cat likes and dislikes. Discuss this with the previous owner. If there is something the cat does not like, remove that from the room. Avoid doing this that will upset the cat.
  3. Find out the cat’s feeding habits. 
    Ask the owner what kind of food the cat eats and when it eats it. Try to do the same thing for the first few weeks so the cat does not feel a change in feeding.
  4. Avoid separating the cat from siblings or kitty friends. 
    If the cat grew up with kitty friends or some siblings. Adopt the other cats as well. I know this is not always an option but separating animal friends is just too stressful.
  5. Ask the owner to share something the cat liked. 
    Chances are, the cat will miss the old home. However, if it has something that will remind it of the previous home, that would be great. Ask the previous owner for a blanket or a toy the cat is using. Ask for the litter box as well.
  6. Give the cat some time to get used to you and the new home.
    Don’t force the cat to get used to your place. I know that it will be upsetting to see the cat sad but that will pass. Just make the cat feel comfortable. Don’t make it come cuddle with you, let it come to you on its own.
[Related Article: Will Cats Eat Chinchillas]

Signs Of Stress In A Rehomed Cat

  • Refusing food.
    When stressed out cats will refuse to eat. This happens with every companion animal that is emotionally disturbed. A very common thing with rehomed cats is refusing food. This lasts only for a week though, the cat should start eating again.[ Source ]
  • Hiding. 
    Another thing rehomed cats do is hide. They will find a place that they like and they won’t leave it. This is nothing alarming as well, just don’t force the cat and she will stop doing that on her own.
  • Looking out the window. 
    Some cats that miss their previous owners will wait for them to come back. This means the cat will look out the window for days until it figures out they aren’t coming back.
  • Not using the litter box. 
  • Cuddling. 
    If the cat missed the owner that doesn’t mean that it won’t like you. The cat may like you but miss the owner. So, when that happens it will ask for comfort by cuddling with you.
  • Destructive behavior. 
    It’s one thing for the cat to be sad but if it gets destructive, that’s alarming. Sometimes, if the cat can’t get used to the new place it will start rebelling. This behavior varies from pooping everywhere to pushing things down. Consult with a veterinarian if this happens. Do not scold the kitty in these situations.
  • Aggressive behavior. 
    Another alarming thing is aggressive behavior. If the cat gets in a really defensive stance where it attacked everyone that comes near it, that means it got to a bad state. If this happens, consult with an expert.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Adjust To A New Owner

With encouragement and help from the new owner, the cat should get comfortable after a week or two. It depends on the cat, some cats take longer. All in all, the cat shouldn’t take longer than 4 weeks to adjust to the new owner.

Do Cats Remember Their Home After Being Away

Yes, cats have an excellent memory, especially about places they lived in. Cats associate home with food and safety, so they will remember their home for years.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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