How Can I Find a Home for a Homeless Cat?

Ferrel cats
Dreamstime

Q: After my mother died, I brought her cat home, and now the kitty is living in the patio because I don't want to stress her or my own two cats out. I'd rather not take her to the shelter, but finding her a new home isn't going well. Suggestions? — P.A.

A: The first step to placing an adult cat may be convincing prospective owners with one cat that two cats truly are better for everyone. It can be a hard sell, as adult cats have low adoption rates, especially during kitten season. But if you're patient and persistent, you'll likely find a home. Here are some tips to follow:

1. Do everything you can to make the cat more adoptable.

The cat has a better chance of being adopted if her vaccinations are current, she uses her litterbox reliably and she is altered.

2. Don't lie about the pet's problems or why she's being placed.

Although finding a new home for a pet with issues takes longer, it's completely doable. Remember that the person who gets a sick pet without warning is likely to bring her back, take her to a shelter or give her away. Then the cycle just begins again.

3. Spread the news.

Create fliers and post ads everywhere that you can: bulletin boards at work, pet-supply stores and your veterinarian's office. Put the news out on social media channels — with a great picture. Talk up the cat (at least briefly) with everyone you know, every place you can. Even people who don't like cats (or don't want one) may know someone who is looking for a pet. If a thousand people hear or read about the animal, you may get no interest from 999, but you need only one person to provide a good home. And that's the one person you need to reach.

4. Ask lots of questions and verify that the answers are true.

Don't forget to ask prospective adopters whether they've had pets before and what happened to them. My favorite question is "Who's your veterinarian?" Someone who cannot at least name a vet or a veterinary hospital may have pets who don't go there very often.

5. Be persistent.

Above all, don't give up! It may take weeks to find the right home for a pet, but it's always worth the time to get it right. The goal here is not to "get rid of" an animal — it's to find a loving, caring and, most of all, permanent home for her. They're out there, and if you keep looking, you'll find the home that's just right.

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