Rehoming Tips

Thanks to Best Friends, Nathan Winograd and other no-kill advocates who are doing more harm to animals than good, every shelter in this country is full, leaving people who are struggling to pay bills to rehome cats, kittens, dogs, rabbits and other pets on their own. With that in mind, here are some rehoming tips the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, Best Friends and Nathan Winograd should be providing but aren’t:

Rehoming Tip No. 1: Ask Yourself Why You’re Rehoming Your Pet

If you’re rehoming your pet because you can’t afford pet food, cat litter and other necessities, google pet pantry near me. People who run food banks for furry family members aren’t judging you for your inability to afford pet food. Everybody’s broke these days, and if they aren’t now, they were at some point in their past. That includes celebrities.

Churches like this church in Akron, Ohio, hand out free dog and cat food as well.

If you’re rehoming your pet because you need money in general:

  • sell plasma, which is the easiest way on the planet to make money if you don’t have health problems or recent tattoos or piercings. Search Google for plasma donation near me and call around to see how much they pay. You’ll get paid the day you donate;
  • sell clothes on eBay, Poshmark or at a local consignment shop like Plato’s Closet;
  • sell games you no longer play on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or at a local GameStop or Record Exchange;
  • get a name-your-own-hours side hustle delivering for Instacart, DoorDash or Uber Eats. A quick trip to the grocery store for someone could put an extra $30 in your pocket.

If you’re rehoming your pet because you need to move, find a pet-friendly apartment (and sell plasma to help pay your pet deposit and monthly fees, if necessary. I make $80-85 per week, which is an extra $320 per month). If you need to move quickly but have an eviction or something else preventing you from being able to rent an apartment, ask a friend or relative if you can crash with them for a while until you can find a pet-friendly place. I spent three months on a former coworker’s basement floor with my two cats and then wound up having to spend over a year in another former coworker’s uninhabited condo. That was before I knew dogfighters in my city were/are killing cats and kittens. Imagine the anxiety and depression I’d have if I’d gotten rid of them just so I could move somewhere and had no idea where they were or what happened to them.

This isn’t just happening in Ohio. It’s happening all over the country and in other countries like Scotland, where a guy killed over 50 cats he got from Gumtree.

Rehoming Tip No. 2: Remember: You’re Advertising the Pets You’re Rehoming to People Who Are Avoiding Shelters for a Reason

When you post pets on Craigslist, Facebook or Next Door, you’re advertising them to people who are avoiding shelters that:

  • run background checks;
  • make people sign adoption contracts with microchip numbers;
  • copy people’s driver’s license;
  • have security cameras; and
  • take photos of dogs and cats with new adopters.
Masks or no masks, police would still be able to track this family down if that dog turned up dead in a ditch on the side of a road.

Police and feds took 859+ pitbulls from dogfighters in 2022. Those are just the people who were caught and made the news. When you post pets on Craigslist, you’re advertising them on a website that dogfighters use to communicate with each other. They spend years eluding police. YOU are not a challenge.

Police discover dogfighters in one of two ways: By accident during a drug investigation OR
by someone reporting them to police.

Rehoming Tip No. 3: Don’t Rely on Your Rehoming Fee to Ensure a Good Home

Many dogfighters sell cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs. They have money. One of 10 dogfighters busted in Long Island, New York, in 2021 had placed a $175,000 bet on a fight. If dogfighters want your cat, kitten, rabbit, dog or guinea pig, they’ll buy him/her.

A $50 rehoming fee didn’t prevent this Columbus, Ohio, kitten from being killed, so why would $20 or $30 ensure a good home?

Rehoming Tip No. 4: Don’t Assume You Know What Dogfighters and Other Psychopaths Look Like

Search Google News for animal cruelty and you’ll see thousands of angry white guys, evil Black guys and attention-seeking witches. Although most people think of Michael Vick when they hear the word “dogfighting,” white guys were fighting dogs long before gang members. “Like drug addicts, there’s no cultural barrier,” the Sun Journal reported in 2018. “Men, women, businessmen, veterinarians, even law enforcers have been known to throw in with dog-fighting —a grand champion dog in Texas was owned by a state trooper according to [an informant named] Steve.”

Female dogfighters from Pennsylvania (top L and R), Wisconsin (bottom L) and Maryland.

Rehoming Tip No. 5: Don’t Get Rid of Cats Because of Bad Behavior

“Forever home” means forever. You won’t be able to get rid of your kids when they start drawing on walls with Crayons and doing other destructive things, so practice your parenting skills as a cat mom or cat dad. I recently adopted a year-old cat who’d been found as a stray when he was two or three months old and had lived in an Animal Control kennel ever since. Once he was in a home and able to stretch, his natural instincts kicked in and he began standing on his hind legs, reaching as high as he could stretch and raking his claws down a door frame. I said, “NO,” in a stern voice, shot him with a squirt gun from across the room and then walked over and directed him toward cardboard scratchers I’d bought from TJ Maxx and Marshalls for $4-$5. He didn’t seem interested at first, so I sprinkled catnip in the crevices. Between that and placing double-sided tape where he’d been scratching, my new cat learned not to scratch anything other than cardboard scratchers within 36 hours. Krazy Bins sells Target’s cardboard cat scratchers for a buck if you hit the store on the right day.

I recommend buying an enclosed cat scratcher to prevent cardboard shreds from littering your carpet.

If your new cat isn’t getting along with other pets, try calming collars or plug-ins, Rescue Remedy or a Jackson Galaxy technique — and give it time to take root. It could take eight months to a year for cats to get along, especially if you brought home a kitten to an older cat who feels like he or she is being replaced.

Rehoming Tip No. 6: Don’t Get Rid of Cats Because You Think You’re Allergic to Them

“While most people believe it is the cat’s hair that they are allergic to, it is actually proteins in their saliva, oil glands, urine and dander (dried skin),” UK site says. “Each time your cat grooms, they spread these proteins on their fur, which are then shed around the home.

“People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems which attack harmless things such as pollen and animal dander, causing an allergic reaction.” Purina recently released LiveClear, which helps reduce allergens. It’s expensive, but if you buy it through PetSmart or another company that enables you to pay via PayPal, you can spread payments out over eight weeks. If you’re allergic to gluten, give your cats grain-free dry and wet foods (and make sure you’re giving them high-quality foods with organ meat because they’d be eating the organs of rodents in the wild). You may also want to change the brand or type of litter you use because dusty litter may be causing your allergy symptoms. [Note: If your cat starts going to the bathroom somewhere other than the litter box, your cat does not like the new litter.]

CatChat offers more suggestions for cat allergy sufferers here.

Rehoming Tip No. 7: Don’t Get Rid of Dogs and Cats Because You Got a Full-Time Job

Cats sleep 15 to 20 hours per day, so they’ll be fine while you’re at work. Dogs sleep nearly as long, but you’ll need to develop a walking routine to prevent your pup from peeing and pooping in your apartment or house. If you can’t get home close to the same time each day, ask a friend, family member or neighbor you trust to let your dog out, hire a licensed, bonded and ensured dog walker or take your dog to a doggie daycare (that does not allow pitbulls).

If your cat wakes you up in the middle of the night, making you cranky and tempted to call off from your new job, break out the laser pointer, the feather wand or some other non-catnip-filled toy and tucker your cat out before you go to bed. This will only take 10 to 15 minutes. Once your cat is bored, pour some food. If all else fails, try Rescue Remedy or a Thundershirt-like dog jacket that velcroes in the front.

Rehoming Tip No. 8: Don’t Rehome Cats Because You’re Pregnant

Would you ever change your cat’s litter box and then make yourself a sandwich without washing your hands? No? Then don’t get rid of your cat because you’re about to have a baby. Per the CDC:

Worry more about your food causing toxoplasmosis than your indoor cat causing toxoplasmosis.

Rehoming Tip No. 9: Do Your Homework

Before handing your pet to a stranger, ask yourself — and the stranger — why someone would scroll through Craigslist or any other site and pay some random person a “rehoming fee” instead of going to a shelter, where animals have been examined by a vet, spayed/neutered, dewormed and microchipped. If the answer is, “Not everyone can afford shelter prices,” sell your pet to someone who can afford vet visits when the animal gets sick, stung by a bee, hit by a car or worse. GoFundMe is full of people who can’t. Keep in mind, animal cruelty increased 301 percent in Michigan alone between 2016 and 2018. Domestic violence and animal cruelty both increased due to COVID-related job losses. If you don’t want your pet used as a punching bag:

  • Ask a LOT of questions — in person, not via text, email or phone call/FaceTime. A starting point: Who lives in the home? (This is important because men are beating their significant others’ pets to death. Does your apartment allow pets? Will you be moving or going away to college? (Most Craigslist posts say the person is moving and can’t take their cat.)
  • Ask to see the person’s lease or a letter from the person’s landlord — on property management letterhead — showing the person can have pets. If the letter looks sketchy, call the landlord to confirm.
  • Ask to see the person’s W2. Make sure the person can afford pet food, vet bills and other necessities.
  • Only sell the animal to someone who already has a pet and brings vet records. But note that some dogfighters have dogs they take care of: “They are often given quality nutrition and basic veterinary care.” –
  • Ask if you can friend the person on social media. Only rely on this to screen the person — don’t expect the person to remain friends with you after he/she takes your pet. The person can block you before they even leave your driveway.
  • Take a picture of the person’s driver’s license. Shelters do this, and since they don’t have social security numbers on them anymore, there shouldn’t be a complaint.
  • Also take a picture of the person’s license plate in case the person gave you a fake ID. Do not do this INSTEAD of the driver’s license, however.
  • Ask for a PREPAID vet receipt showing the animal will at least be going for a checkup but preferably a spay/neuter appointment since millions of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized every year. Some people take the animal to a vet and have the buyer pick the animal up there. 
  • Charge $$$ and don’t negotiate. If you don’t value the animal’s life, no one else will either.
  • Follow up in a week, two weeks and/or a month via FaceTime or Zoom, not text, email or phone call. If the person gives you an excuse as to why he/she can’t FaceTime or Zoom your pet so you can see it, file a police report. If police receive repeated reports about a person, they’ll be forced to investigate.
A cat’s last moments in Cleveland.