Tips for quickly rehoming a cat.
September 13, 2011 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Tips for quickly finding a home for an extremely affectionate, older cat.

We've spread the word among our friends in person and via email and various social networks. We've asked for assistance rehoming from the local no-kill rescue shelter, with promises but no follow-up from them so far. It's posted in two spots at my husband's workplace. Hell, I've got my family on it three states away. What haven't I thought of?

Obligatory picture. This little guy is friendlier than many dogs I've met.

We need to find a place for him quickly. He's not safe or happy right now.
posted by moira to Pets & Animals (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Awww....I wish I could take him!
posted by la petite marie at 4:03 PM on September 13, 2011


We're in San Diego, if it helps, but we're willing to drive him a significant distance.
posted by moira at 4:03 PM on September 13, 2011


flyers in vet offices can have remarkable results.
posted by batmonkey at 4:08 PM on September 13, 2011


Does he need to be rehomed for medical or behavioral problems? How old is "older"?

I'd make sure you aren't inadvertently sending up red flags in your listings that aren't warranted. For instance, when you say "older cat" some people will immediately think this is a euphemism for "15+ with bladder problems." If the cat is less than ten years old and in good health, that description might be working against you.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:10 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Flyers anyplace that allows them--coffee shops, cafes, libraries, grocery stores, delis, big apt complexes, community centers, etc. Make them color, include a description of kitty's charms and tale of woe. Include a small adoption fee (which can just be a $25 donation to a no-kill shelter) to weed out sociopaths and people who might take kitty on an ill-planned whim. I adopted out a fat middle-aged bodega cat this way after social networks failed.
posted by Mavri at 4:15 PM on September 13, 2011


Rehomed because he's being attacked violently and regularly by his brother in redirected aggression, and none of our solutions have worked.

No behavioral problems, unless you count occasionally jumping on the counter (because we're lazy and leave food there) and scratching the couch (a rare occurrence these days).

He is 10 years old, and in good health.

The flyer I've made has that picture I linked, and says this:

"[Kitty], Fuzzy Ball of Love


The most affectionate cat in the history of ever is in need of a loving home. He'd be perfect for somebody who wants BIG love in a little furry package.

He's very beta, and would do best in a gentle home with a person or family that can give him lots of love in return. We believe he'd be okay with other non-aggressive cats if he were introduced slowly.

He is in good health, and has been microchipped. We can send him with a Feliway diffuser with a refill, his cat carrier, and a cat tree. He can occasionally be vocal, and he has a little quirk: he stands up to pee, so he'll need a tall-sided litter box.

His current home is no longer safe for him, and we need to find a new home for him as quickly as possible. If you or somebody you know would like to have [Kitty] as a companion, please contact us.

[Emails and phone numbers for both of us]"
posted by moira at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2011


Honestly, that feels like TMI. "very beta" doesn't mean much to people who aren't really into animals. The microchip thing you can leave out. And "his current home is no longer safe for him" kind of reads like, "I am a little bit nuts". Just saying.
posted by yerfatma at 4:23 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's been very hard to word this in an attractive way. I just can't come up with anything cute while I'm bawling my eyes out. Would appreciate help there, if anybody is willing.
posted by moira at 4:27 PM on September 13, 2011


"his current home is no longer safe for him"

I agree -- this sounds kind of weird. When people call to ask why you're letting him go you can then tell him that the other cat is too aggressive or whatever. But I wouldn't put the danger part on the flyer.

I also agree that "very beta" wouldn't mean much to most people. I would just say he's "gentle" or whatever adjective you feel describes him.
posted by la petite marie at 4:28 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest something with a little less information. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Here's my rewrite

"[Kitty], Fuzzy Ball of Love

The most affectionate cat in the history of ever is in need of a loving home.

[Kitty] would do best in a gentle home with a person or family that can give him lots of love in return. He'd probably be okay with other non-aggressive cats.

He is ten years old, in good health, and has been microchipped. We can send him with a Feliway diffuser with a refill, his cat carrier, and a cat tree. He can occasionally be vocal and he stands up to pee, so he uses a tall-sided litter box.

We need to find a new home for him as quickly as possible. If you or somebody you know would like to have [Kitty] as a companion, please contact us."

I skipped BIG love [is he overweight] and the beta stuff and the quirk part. Best paw forward and all that. I might add something about whether he's good around children or other sorts of pets [dogs?] maybe something he likes to do [lap cat? climber?] and I agree, flyers in the vet's office are the way to go.
posted by jessamyn at 4:33 PM on September 13, 2011


I've been uncertain about putting children in, which is why I chose "gentle family" as a more general description of his ideal home. He does beautifully with our little girl, but lots of rowdy kids scare him, and he will nip gently if overstimulated (not even a real nip, more of a threat of one, but still). In all honesty, though, damn near any home would be better for him than a shelter. He was miserable for two years in a shelter before I rescued him.

He's dumb as a rock, and I see that as a big part of his charm, but not sure that would come across as a positive, so I left it out.

I'll take those other bits out; I see what you mean about them.

My little girl has drawn a very colorful home for him. God, I wish it were that easy.
posted by moira at 4:47 PM on September 13, 2011


You might want to mention that he'd make a good cat for a first-time cat owner (because it sounds like he would).

(I specifically looked for an older cat for my first cat because I knew that a younger cat would be too overwhelming for someone who doesn't know a lot about cats. I think most people who are getting a cat for the first time think they want a kitten and end up scratched all to hell with pee all over the place.)
posted by dogmom at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2011


Are there any retirement communities or community centers catering to older people in your area? If so, be sure to put up flyers there. My elderly father and mother-in-law have both adopted older cats after they lost their long time cat companions, with the thinking that they themselves may not outlive a kitten, and also because older cats are easier for an elderly person to take care of.
posted by gudrun at 5:12 PM on September 13, 2011


He's a real looker. If I could have cats, he'd be the type I wanted!

I had excellent luck with rehoming a cat in almost the exact same situation (older kitty, being attacked by her sister, she was a sweetheart, etc...) by focusing my efforts on finding the ideal home. I billed her on craigslist as perfect for an elderly person who wanted a buddy. It took about 2 weeks, but I found a great home for her with an older guy who had lost his wife a year earlier, and then had a stroke. He was confined to a bed with a 24 hour nurse, and when I brought the kitty over to do a test-run meet and greet, she instantly jumped in his bed. Love at first sight, and it was just so sweet that I hung out for an hour and then said my goodbyes. I visit her every 6 months or so and she's happy as can be.

So, maybe think of ways to target your pitch to similar folks? It seems to me like an elderly person would absolutely love to have such a beast as yours.

Not necessarily a suggestion, but I also once had great luck getting rid of a stray I took in by going the comedy route in advertising. My ad read, simply: "Grey cat needs home. Nice guy, huge feet, excellent fighter."

That worked. Put it in a weekly paper thing, and got a ton of calls the first day, and was able to interview and pick-and-choose his new people.

Good luck, and hang in there. I know how upsetting and tiring intercat fights are. Keep em separate and it'll work out.
posted by broadway bill at 5:24 PM on September 13, 2011


I just want to clarify: cleaning the litter box takes extra effort because of the standing-to-pee bit; he requires gobs of love and is my constant appendage; he is sometimes vocal; he sometimes jumps on counters and scratches the couch. This, to me, is a (somewhat) higher maintenance cat. I was happy to deal with these things, but you think he would be appropriate for elderly/first-time owners?
posted by moira at 5:33 PM on September 13, 2011


Dumb cat is licking my skirt.
posted by moira at 5:41 PM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, my first thought was he would be PERFECT company for a senior. Occasional counter-jumping and rare couch-scratching episodes do not sound too high maintenance in terms of physical care issues. The "requires gobs of love and is my constant appendage; he is sometimes vocal" can be reframed as "extremely affectionate and loyal." You could also try to really play up the fact that he is well-trained and housebroken, because those are very appealing traits to someone looking for a pet.

Is there a seniors' complex nearby that allows cats? If so, you could put up posters there. I bet he'd get snapped up pronto in that environment.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:45 PM on September 13, 2011


Those are definitely marks of a somewhat high maintenance cat, but I don't think those behaviors put him in the category of the types of cats that are really difficult (or impossible) to find a home for.

I rehomed a cat with serious issues once: she had a luxating patella (her leg came unjointed, and had to be manipulated back into its socket sometimes, and she had to have half of a child's Motrin every day for pain) and some serious mental issues. She also demanded a finger to suckle for an hour or so each day, peed standing up, bit (hard), and was unable to be around dogs or cats or kids.

It took a while--maybe 5 or 6 weeks--but I found her a home. My experience was that as soon as an interested party met her, they wanted her. She was adorable, just like your guy is, and seemed to trigger the helping instinct in people. I was upfront about all of her issues, but I honestly had about 4 or 5 homes on a list for her, and was able to pick the one that I felt was best equipped to have her. She now lives with that home, and has been happy there for about 4 years.

Rehoming an animal is really trying on your nerves, though. My best advice is to set up a temporary fix at home, so he is safe and comfortable, and really market the little fella hard. Maybe consider using Feliway temporarily to calm tensions between him and his sibling?

Another option is to look at what sort of programs your local Humane Society runs. Where I am, they will take an animal for 3 weeks for $100, and if they are not adopted out at the end of that time, they call you so you can come pick them up. Not the best option, because it means 3 weeks of potential shelter stress (although I have been amazed at the sort of care and attention my local shelter gives to adoptable pets, but YMMV), but it does let you calm things down at home.

Really, though, I think with a guy that looks like your guy, there are no real hurdles to adoption other than time. It may take a while to find them, but someone out there really wants that cat.
posted by broadway bill at 5:47 PM on September 13, 2011


Just a thought - Does he act that way to everyone or just you?

Some cats bond pretty strongly with their owners, and act entirely differently otherwise. The fact that his brother has "redirected aggression" towards him may indicate jealousy. Meaning, the outcome for both cats might look better if you got rid of the brother, even though he'll take more work to place.

I would also strongly recommend, if your house allows it, dividing the house in two with those telescoping mesh pet-gates. I had to do that for a week after having my two cats fixed, because the male recovered a lot faster than the female (ie, overnight) and kept getting too rough with her. I gave the female the upstairs and the male the downstairs (you should have one litter box per cat anyway, even if they normally share), and put three pet-gates across my downstairs hallway (and I have a room adjacent the hallway that acted as an airlock, of sorts, with a door on each side). They could see each other and interact (and mostly slept back-to-back with the lowest gate between them), but he had no ability to harass her when she just wanted to rest.

You might even find that letting them interact in a way where either can choose to end the encounter, as well as giving them hard-delimited private domains, allows them to get along after a few weeks. Most of what I've read about introducing a new cat into a house with a preexisting cat suggests something very much like that, where they can meet but can't fight (unless both really, really want to).
posted by pla at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2011


Just a thought - Does he act that way to everyone or just you?

He was known at the shelter for being stand-offish. He was never, ever that way for me, not from the moment he saw me there. When I took him home, our nanny, who volunteered at the shelter and knew him well, said he "blossomed."

He is very friendly toward pretty much everybody who visits, now. He loves our vet to pieces, once he gets there.
posted by moira at 6:04 PM on September 13, 2011


It's been very hard to word this in an attractive way.

Totally understand: we've fostered a number of beagles and it's hard to translate from human-who-speaks-beagle to normal civilian. For "very beta", I'd just say, "gentle". He looks like a wonderful cat. Very cute.
posted by yerfatma at 6:12 PM on September 13, 2011


Have you had the other cat looked at to rule out a medical cause for his aggression? The way you describe things I'd want to keep the nice cat, and hang the angry cat out to dry.
posted by zadcat at 7:24 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Re your question about his suitability for seniors, none of his quirks would be a deal breaker for the senior cat lovers I know. My father's cat has numerous health issues and some behavioral quirks and my father (age 90) has the time and patience to dote on him and deal with the things that younger and busier working people would not necessarily want to deal with. Since my mother died, his cat is Dad's companion and buddy and really helped him adjust to living without Mom. A lot of "independent living" retirement communities allow small pets like cats and have a central office or mailbox area with a bulletin board where you could put up a flyer.
posted by gudrun at 8:30 PM on September 13, 2011


I would totally keep the nice cat, but of course if you have to rehome a cat, you'll have more luck with the nice one. Unless the angry cat turns into a sweetheart in a different environment. Or has something the matter a vet visit can fix. But so many cats are *such* pains (I have a pain in the neck female I'm hoping to rehome myself!) I feel kind of sad at you losing a sweet one.
posted by thylacinthine at 8:33 PM on September 13, 2011


(The "angry" cat is at the mercy of outside stimuli (aggressive neighborhood cats) we can vastly reduce, but not eliminate. His brother, being a cat, has become lumped in with the stimuli at this point, and nothing we've done has changed that. We feel he will do very well as a sole cat. He's otherwise pretty much the mellowest cat on the planet, and his personality has not changed from what it was when we took them in 5 years ago. He'll allow himself to be squished, carried, plopped, and pulled by the tail while lounging (this only happened once, when babygirl was tiny), with no complaint. He's a wonderful cat, we love him very much, and we still feel he's a good fit for our family. We chose to rehome the beta cat for several reasons. One is that he'd be more adoptable at this point. Another is that he would adjust far more quickly.)
posted by moira at 8:56 PM on September 13, 2011


(Oof, sorry for second guessing you - what you say makes perfect sense).
posted by thylacinthine at 9:14 PM on September 13, 2011


(Totally understandable. This hasn't been an easy decision for us, and isn't obvious at all on the surface.)
posted by moira at 9:22 PM on September 13, 2011


Yikes, good luck with the rehoming, and kudos for working to find him a home yourself. So many people just drop cats off at shelters without any apparent comprehension of how underfunded/understaffed most of them are (a state of affairs that leads to something like an overall 70% euthanasia rate for felines, which is beyond tragic).

But anyway, in case it comes up...re. the standing up to pee thing, I've got two ginormous (not overweight, just large-framed, long-legged, and tall) boy kitties who have been known to experience "elevator butt pee syndrome" and by far the best solution I've found is to just use large plastic storage containers (Rubbermaid, Sterilite, etc.) rather than commercial litterboxes. They're certainly no uglier than a regular litterbox-marketed-as-such and they do a great job of containing litter kick-out AND the pee of boycats who prefer a standing wee position. Just figured I would mention that in case any potential adopters want advice on that front.
posted by aecorwin at 10:17 PM on September 13, 2011


My old cat was adopted by an after hours vet clinic. She was 16 and had medical problems, but otherwise was incredibly laid back and friendly in the same way you're describing. It worked really well for her, there were people around all the time (day and night) and she got so.much.loving. She was out the back, so away from other pets and the people coming in and out, so it wasn't stressful, and the clinic nurses just totally fell in love with her. She glomed onto them pretty well too, it really was her home. Sadly the medical problems eventually caught up with her, which is inevitable for an older cat, but she had the very best care right there. I've known a few clinic cats and they have a good life, just a slightly more public one than living in a home.

My normal vet clinic also aid they'd take her if we couldn't find anyone else, but as a temporary measure until they could rehome her (we went overseas so there was a deadline). They were also willing to work with us to find a home amongst their clients. So my advice is to work with a local vet clinic and see what kind of help and advice they can provide. If nothing else it will be another place to hang your sign.
posted by shelleycat at 12:14 AM on September 14, 2011


Has anyone mentioned Craigslist? I know two people who have either adopted or rehomed kitties this way. With suggestions above and pictures, it could be a very easy sell- He sounds wonderful!
posted by Gor-ella at 7:08 AM on September 14, 2011


Somebody did mention Craigslist via email. I thought CL didn't allow pet postings, but I see they don't allow the sale of pets. I'll definitely give it a try on top of the other suggestions.

I've modified the flyer. If nobody sees any problems with it, I'll post it around today.

"[Kitty], Fuzzy Ball of Love

[pic]

The most affectionate cat in the history of ever is in need of a loving home.

[Kitty] will be your shadow and lap-warmer. He will greet you in the morning and adore you all day. He would do best in a gentle home with a person or family that can give him lots of love in return. He’d probably be okay with other non-aggressive cats.

[Kitty] is ten years old, in good health, and has been microchipped. We can send him with a Feliway diffuser and refill, his cat carrier, and a cat tree. He can occasionally be vocal and he stands to pee, so he uses a tall-sided litter box. He loves high places, toys on strings, and frequent head-bumps.

We need to find a new home for him as quickly as possible. If you or somebody you know would like to have Kibo as a companion, please contact us."
posted by moira at 7:21 AM on September 14, 2011


I added "[Kitty's] job is to love you, and he takes it very seriously" just before the shadow/lap warmer bit. It's probably belaboring the point, but he belabors the point.
posted by moira at 7:41 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


No interest still. Is having bits of me in that picture a bad thing?
posted by moira at 10:31 PM on September 18, 2011


Kitty has found a home with a sweet, lively, 82-yr-old woman. She is the mother of a friend of a friend. He's just the cat she's wanted, and I think they'll do very well together.

I didn't get any responses from Craigslist or the flyers I posted, but I think that's more a reflection on the state of affairs for animals right now. Apparently, shelters are more crowded than ever, seeing lots of returns, and having difficulty adopting animals out. I was lucky to have a friend with extensive connections. Second email out (with more pics and a more detailed sob story) was the charm.

Thanks so much for the tips.
posted by moira at 5:34 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


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