Rehoming a high-energy cat
January 18, 2018 10:54 AM   Subscribe

A couple of days ago I asked what to do about a wild child cat who we just weren't clicking with. I must have jinxed myself by stating in the question that he was not being aggressive towards our older cat, because right after asking the question he started bullying the old guy. It's time to find him a new home where he will be happier, but this will be an uphill climb. Would it be best to simply take him back to the shelter?

After a long (leashed) walk with our young cat, he came inside in a very frisky mood. Our older cat was sitting nearby, and the young cat playfully started batting at him. The older cat swatted back, but sadly lacks his front claws and his swatting had no effect. The younger cat had previously been deferential to him, both because he was much smaller and because the older cat had made a big show of being top cat when we brought the little one home. In that moment it must have dawned on the young cat that, hey, I'm as big as you now, and you don't have claws! Attack time! Since then he's behaved aggressively towards the older cat, to the older cat's distress.

Another aspect of this is that the older cat came to us as a traumatized pet and it took several years to fully bring him out of his shell. I don't want him to have to spend his golden years dealing with an aggressive young interloper.

Given my last question and the consensus that the best situation for the younger cat would either be to let him roam free or rehome him, how should I go about the latter? I've already exhausted my admittedly small network of people who might be interested in a cat. Given his needs I would want to carefully vet any stranger who wants to adopt him. Ideally he would go to be someone's farm cat. I definitely don't want him to end up cooped up in a studio apartment or in a worse situation. But how on earth to place such qualifications on adopting out a cat, when rehoming a cat is already a nearly impossible feat?

The shelter I adopted him from allows you to bring back a pet any time for any reason, and I'm wondering if this would be the better option. At least they have something of a system in place (I hope) to ensure reasonable standards in who they adopt out to.

And finally, I think the best option would be to keep him but let him roam to his heart's content. If anyone has any advice on how to convince my spouse to agree to this, please share. My spouse is adamantly opposed to it due to the impact on birds and wildlife.

(And if there are any Mefites anywhere in the Midwest US who want a silly, high energy little tuxedo cat, I would bring him to you!)
posted by ThreeSocksToTheWind to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
I agree with your spouse that an outdoor cat is a bad thing, so I don't think you should convince them. Take it back to the shelter, managing adoption of animals is their specialty and they are likely better at it than you.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:57 AM on January 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

Having volunteered at a shelter, we really want that you return the cat if it doesn't work out. This happens all the time and you will not be judged.
posted by Ferrari328 at 11:03 AM on January 18, 2018 [6 favorites]

I should also mention that I did call the shelter and they said they would take him back, but if I could rehome him on my own that would be great--they would just transfer ownership.
posted by ThreeSocksToTheWind at 11:11 AM on January 18, 2018

We had to rehome a dog under similar circumstances recently. The shelter would have taken him back immediately but said they would prefer if we held onto him in the meantime and that was ok with us -- then they did all the legwork of soliciting and vetting candidate owners . And then ultimately asked us to speak with the new candidates to see if we agreed it would be a good fit. So maybe you could offer to continue 'fostering' the cat while the shelter finds new owners?
posted by Tandem Affinity at 11:35 AM on January 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think it is safest to take him back to the shelter before one or both cats get badly hurt in a fight.
posted by Murderbot at 5:42 PM on January 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I would take him back to the shelter. If he's getting aggressive with your other cat, you should do it sooner rather than later to avoid injury to either cat (unless you can absolutely ensure they're separated 24/7). If you give the shelter feedback about what is and isn't working for him while he's been with you, they can use that information to screen future adopters and ensure he finds a better fit.

Seriously, don't try to convince your spouse that the cat needs to be an outdoor cat. Being outside isn't just dangerous to the local fauna, it's dangerous for the cat. Have you even asked the shelter about this plan? Did they make you sign any agreements regarding keeping the cat inside when you adopted him? You might want to check with them first - it's highly likely that they would disapprove and would rather you return him now so they can work on getting him readopted sooner.
posted by i feel possessed at 4:29 AM on January 19, 2018

Your poor older cat! I'd take the new guy back to the shelter pronto. He can easily be an only cat for someone who wants a prancing young tuxedo rascal. The shelter is not going to euthanize him because he was high-spirited and challenged the establishment. He is not the right guy for your situation and that's fine. Don't force yourself into an uncomfortable long-term (for everyone) situation just to avoid guilt or some misplaced sense of failure -- when a better solution for all is at hand. I used to work in an animal shelter and it was only when a pet had been returned multiple times did we begin to wonder if there was something "unadoptable" about them. I think you'll feel guilty for an hour, and then so, so relieved.
posted by half life at 11:34 PM on January 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

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