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January 10, 2011 5:56 AM   Subscribe

How can I find a new home for an adult cat in Toronto?

For health and family reasons, we have to find a new home for our healthy, friendly, beautiful 11-year old tortoiseshell kitty (obligatory picture).

Problem is, most people are reluctant to adopt an adult cat. My wife and I have asked all of our friends and family, have posted to facebook and have posted several times to craigslist. Aside from angry emails from people on craigslist who don't believe that there's ever a good enough reason to rehome a cat, there's been no response.

We don't know what to do next. Does it make sense to take out ads in the newspaper classifieds? Is there something else I should do. I'd happily spend money to find a good home for our kitty, if needed, but I don't know where or how.

It would break our hearts to take her to a shelter.
posted by 256 to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't think newspaper ads are the right way to go - this puts her on the open market, where, as you say, she isn't going to be an attractive proposition.

One of the reasons people don't want to take an older cat is vet costs. You might want to offer a monthly fee, equivalent to the premium on a pet insurance policy, for x months to someone who takes your mog.

Obviously this doesn't work if you go outside your network - any old shyster can take your cat to the shelter and still pocket the cash.

Use your extended network - friends, colleagues, Facebook etc. If you have 100 friends who have 100 friends etc, you have only need odds of 1/1000.

I would personally speak to the shelter and see what they recommend if your extended network can't find her a home. They might have a solution that doesn't involve you taking your cat to the shelter but which can still match her up with a new home.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:03 AM on January 10, 2011


Kijiji is another craigslist-like source of classifieds used in Toronto.

You could also check with your vet. He or she may know of someone who is in the market for just what you have - perhaps someone who wants an older cat.

Your post doesn't say if your cat gets along well with people or what the problem is that leads you to have to give her up - in fact, you're pretty coy there, like you're hiding something. Just saying "for health and family reasons" will pretty much kill any chance you have of re-homing her, because people will assume the worst. It can mean that kitty claws faces off of children or the elderly, pees on the baseboards, has an expensive medical condition, etc. I'd recommend being very very explicit about why you need to re-home her in any ad. If all your ads just contain "for health and family reasons," you're never going to find her a new home.
posted by juniperesque at 6:08 AM on January 10, 2011


juniperesque: Right, I already learned that lesson.

The health and family reasons are that I have progressive nasal polyps and chronic rhinosinusitis and it's reached the point where, due to continue to live with a cat, I can no longer breathe through my nose at all. That's the main reason. The secondary reason is that my ten month old daughter terrorizes the poor kitty (who has no prior experience with children). She reacts to it by hiding, not by hissing or scratching or anything, but I'm pretty sure she's not happy with this new arrangement.

I said those things explicitly in my second craigslist ad because I was vague about it in my first craigslist ad and got a bunch of unfriendly responses.
posted by 256 at 6:14 AM on January 10, 2011


Also try a new picture with your ads, because the one you posted here is terrifying.
posted by Grither at 6:19 AM on January 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


I think that's valid - absolutely - and you're wise to bring it up in all your posts. I think you'd be better served to focus on the second reason, if you're interested in rehoming the cat, because it sounds less selfish. (Look, I think your first reason is a good one, too, but the world at large is full of people who think it is never okay to re-home a cat, so you have to play by those rules if you want her re-homed.)

Say something like, "Our cat doesn't like our ten-month-old, and nothing we've done to acclimate them seems to have worked. The cat is miserable, and we want her to spend the rest of her life in comfort, being happy. Kitty is a loner that gets along great with adults but just isn't high-energy enough to be a match for a household with kids."

Craigslist "knows" you by now, so I'd start fresh on Kijiji.
posted by juniperesque at 6:20 AM on January 10, 2011


Post actual flyers around your neighborhood. People might be inclined to take in a neighbor cat over one they'd have to drive far to check out. Bonus: you'll get to visit kitty after she's adopted. The only reason this doesn't work well for me is that our neighborhood is mainly professional-school students who don't have time enough to play with kittens; an adult cat would be a better match here.

You've probably written an awesome Craigslist ad, but here are some ideas:

I'd focus on the "hiding from terrorizing toddler" angle -- I'm not the most experienced cat-home-finder, but in the little I've observed, a lot of people are very moved by the idea of rescuing a kitty from a bad or sad situation. Seriously. The kitties with no eyes go fast. I know this sounds cynical, and I don't mean to be so, but it's true. [on preview - don't say she "doesn't like" the kid; it's the kit who's the aggressor, from the cat's point of view -- even if she's a perfectly awesome kid]

Also, I'm guessing you guys are sad to see her go. Elaborate on that. Mention that she never hisses or scratches despite extreme provocation.

If you have photos that show your cat looking cuddly or affectionate, use those. The photo you linked is wonderful! However, the glowing yellow nearly-slit eyes might give your average 45-year-old cat lady pause, subconsciously.

You'll want to mention her age and if she's healthy. Does she insist on going outside? Will she be happy living as an indoor cat?

Conventional wisdom says always ask for an adoption fee, even a small one. If it were me, I'd probably say "$25 adoption fee will be donated to Humane Society of Canada" or some other, actually-existing organization.

Finally, the local organization with which I've been working allows "courtesy listings" on their web site of local cats that need new homes.
posted by amtho at 6:36 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keep working your network, with the further information you've given here; my husband and I, after ONE kitten, are pretty much set on only adopting adult cats ever after (we've had two adults, one mature and one young, and one kitten) because kittens are freaking nightmares, despite their cuteness. Adults settle right into being a good companion animal without the 18 months of crazy.

Also look into fostering organizations.

Also a calm, well-trained, well-behaved adult cat is an EXCELLENT companion for an older person, particularly if the cat is friendly/cuddly. You might see what part of your networks could connect you with those folks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:08 AM on January 10, 2011


You don't want to say your cat "doesn't like" children, that's code for scratches. Your cat is scared of your newly mobile baby, and has spent the last few months hiding in a closet. You do need to mention that you have an illness as well, honestly, because otherwise it's still maybe code for aggressive cat.

Your vet should be able to help you on this. You do want to offer to bring the cat, at your cost, to any vet to confirm she's healthy.

But realistically, unless you happen to know someone who loves your cat, is is very hard to impossible to rehome an 11 year old cat. You should check out no-kill shelters (though they're generally full).
posted by jeather at 7:09 AM on January 10, 2011


I see posters looking to re-home cats at our local vet. It's in the Annex, which I think might be the center of the cat-lover (and multiple-cat-owning) universe. Maybe a few cute posters at the vets around you? (and definitely play up the allergies and child terror)

I dimly remember seeing a candy dish/donation jar there too, for a society for re-homing cats but it may have been for people who had really serious medical issues.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:17 AM on January 10, 2011


I would try the options suggested, such as networking with friends with even more fervor and especially using your vet. Do you have a local Yahoo group? Ours is great for that kind of thing. There are many cat rescues, and cat rescuers in Toronto - but they are all very, very full - especially just after the holidays and in this economy - and it's true, your cat's chances aren't great for re-homing. Kijiji seems to me a nicer option that Craigslist. I've had better luck there, and their pet section is better sorted and it seems to have a different reach.

But, I'd also suggest you re-write your ad once again. I had noticed them before this post, and wondered if they were the same when this popped up. I'm not a troll, but I poke around there and look for suitable pets and supplies for our school's Living Science room. I cannot resist looking at pictures of cute kitties. And I'm always amazed at the poor ads for everything from vacuums to antiques, and wonder how anyone sells anything there anyway.

Considering I've worked in retail for years, and mrgood works in advertising, and we love and have lots of pets and his mom worked with Action Volunteers for Animals for years (try them - but, they're usually full and some of them tend to have too many animals themselves, and if your cat would be stressed in a home with many other pets, I'd say so), I'd say that there you give your reasons, and attempt to defend yourself from the inevitable CL trolls - and your ad reads as defensive and aggressive about your reasons and does nothing to recommend your cat.

You're frustrated and it shows. Your ad is emotional, but it's about how you're feeling - it's not warm and fuzzy and reaching out to a cat-lover. It seems to threaten to send her to a shelter unless someone takes your cat from you, and even though you've phrased it somewhat regretfully, to me it sounded really passive-aggressive. As well, you're technically supposed to offer them with a re-homing fee, so it's possible you were flagged for that.

It's funny how if you're giving something away, it seems to have no value.

I'll also say that mentioning kids as a reason to give up a pet is a big no-no, and will trigger the most ire (and also being sent that horribly heartbreaking sad story about the old dog who doesn't understand being given up by the family he loves when he loves the new baby too) . Because it's generally believed that kids will grow out of the pet-torturing stage, or should be better supervised, or the pets were there first or whatever else the trolls said. And, to put it as nicely as possible, that's kind of true, so it shouldn't be a given reason there. But if your health is the reason, it's not wrong to state it - it just needs to be done in a way that makes it sound terribly, terribly serious. Because Googling nasal polyps and chronic rhinosinusitis will lead the average Joe to pages that make it sound very treatable, especially in a country with health care.


Instead of:

"Our beautiful 11-year-old spayed kitty needs a new home. I have nasal polyps and chronic rhinosinusitis and my doctor has ordered me to get rid of the cat for my health. I also have a nine-month-old daughter who has taken to harassing the kitty and attempting to eat her cat litter, so I am particularly inclined not to ignore my doctor's advice. I go into so much gruesome detail only in the hopes that, if you don't want to adopt the kitty, you won't send me angry e-mails excoriating me for trying to adopt her away.

The kitty is beautiful and friendly and very well-mannered. I would happily deliver her to any loving home in the Toronto area and include her food, litter and toys free of charge.

I am really sad to say that if I don't find a home for her soon I am going to have to take her to a shelter."


You might try making her stand out more - all that cats and kittens there are beautiful. Torties are rare, and some look for them specifically. You could also mention the type of owner she'd be good for, and maybe it will help readers consider people they know. Last of all, you should include a cel number. Some people respond to ads that way, and have no patience for back and forth emails, but will pick up a phone and call and speak to a human.

"Our beautiful 11-year old spayed short-hair Tortie kitty needs a new home as soon as possible - even a foster home, if necessary! We can deliver her to you with her food, litter, toys included. She's special to us, we've loved her for years and we regret having to do this, so we're asking for a nominal $25 re-homing fee to be donated to (the Annex Cat Rescue).

She's friendly, well-mannered and companionable. She likes a quiet life, and (name charming unique desirable qualities here: non-destructive, a lap-warmer, a fan of her own tail, good with strangers, catnip addict, very very healthy and has never cost us more than the basic yearly vet visits, a Mrs. Purrypants, only sheds fifteen hairs on Tuesdays, loves the company of other kitties).

My own serious and debilitating health condition is the main reason my family must give her up, and I'm very sad about it and want to make sure she has a place where she'll be happy. We know that a shelter is not a good place for her, and are searching madly for a better home. Do you know a senior who needs a sweet older cat? Do you know a family who'd like the comfort of a wonderful cat without the time commitment needed for a kitten? Please help her - call xxx.xxx.xxxx with any questions.



(Sorry for the super long response - I'd really like to help, she's a pretty cat and I know it's hard. If I didn't have to worry about the six elderly and decrepit cats my MIL will be leaving us in a few years that I'll have to try to find homes for, I'd try to take her myself.)
posted by peagood at 7:22 AM on January 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seconding peagood that you should play up that she's a tortie. I love a tortoiseshell cat, and yours is particularly lovely. Have you tried Petfinder yet? People browse for pets sorted by breed, and I'll bet there are plenty of people looking for torties. I've even browsed it for my parents when they were looking for a siamese cat, and I've looked at the beautiful torties and black cats out of a perverse fantasy of adopting a kitty even though I really can't adopt right now.
posted by ladypants at 7:33 AM on January 10, 2011


Also, if is extra snuggely, a purrer, a talker or a lap cat, by all means play that up. People love a sweet mannered affectionate cat. And if she's shy, or a hider, by all means mention that - many cat people know that the shyest cats are often the sweetest and most loving once you've earned their trust, and they might want to take on the challenge of coaxing her out of her shell.
posted by ladypants at 7:36 AM on January 10, 2011


toronto cat rescue seems to be full of adult cats with medical problems - your kitty may shine there!
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2011


In addition to petfinder, the lists adult cats needing new homes. They will also have advice about where else to offer you kitty.

My experience rehousing adult cats has been that gentle strong-arming of someone you know (ideally someone who has had cats in the past) OR the help of a super-connected friend were the successful strategies.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:50 AM on January 10, 2011


Yeah, I disagree with those who say focus on the toddler issues. To me, that would read "is not a lovey dovey, perfect cat." Definitely focus on the medical problem, because that says "there's absolutely nothing wrong with the cat, it's me that's the problem," and that would make her more attractive to potential candidates.
posted by Melismata at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2011


It seems that tcr will let you list your cat in their owner surrender programme while she remains resident in your home.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2011


Peagood: Thank you so much. You're entirely right that my frustration was coming through in that ad. The thing is that I've been avoiding giving up the cat despite my health problems for so long that the indignant emails I got from craigslisters once I finally decided to start looking for a good home for her set me on edge.

I've rewritten the ad largely using your copy and it reads much better. Thank you.
posted by 256 at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2011


Adding to the suggestion to take a cuddlier photo. That pic is a little demon kitty. I'd suggest taking one when she is curled up sleeping.
posted by amycup at 10:28 AM on January 10, 2011


I think many people are hesitant to take in an older cat due to the fear of vet bills. Therefore I think you should offer to pay for the insurance on your cat for the life of the cat. You don't have to hand the money directly to the person but just take out an insurance policy for the cat and pay that directly, listing the other person as one of the cat's owners (you being the other owner). This way you remove the risk of someone pocketing the money and not taking care of the cat.
posted by hazyjane at 11:08 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


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