It’s a dilemma for many cat-lovers: we want to rescue homeless and abandoned cats, but we can’t always keep the strays that we want to help. Here are some tips to help you find a good adoptive home for a stray cat.
Please note: The Cat Clinic of Roswell does not accept cats for adoption from the public. Our adoptees are from Good Mews, a cats-only no-kill shelter in Marietta (770-499-2287). We encourage cat people to contact Good Mews regarding their concern for a stray cat. Dr. Ray volunteers his time regularly at the Good Mews adoption facility to help these cats in need.
If you want a new home for your own pet…
Statistics show that almost 80% of cats do not stay with their first owner beyond two years. Sadly, shelters usually have more animals turned-in by owners than strays. The reasons vary, but often include allergies, moving, childbirth, and behavior problems. The good news is that you don’t have to give up the cat in order to address these (and other) issues! If your cat has a medical or behavioral problem, call our clinic for free behavioral advice or to set up an appointment.
If you or a family member has an allergy problem, please consult an allergy specialist, such as Dr. Ted Lee (404-351-7520), who will work with you to manage the allergies and allow you to keep your cat.
Are you sure the stray is homeless?
Don’t just assume that a wandering animal is homeless, or that she has an uncaring owner. Even careful and loving owners sometimes lose a pet. If the stray willingly comes to you and seems social, it may be someone’s missing pet. Most cats don’t stray far, so ask neighbors whether they recognize the cat. Call local shelters and ask whether a similar animal has been reported missing. Check the Lost and Found ads. Have the animal checked for a microchip ID.
If the cat’s owner cannot be found, your next task is to find her a new home.
First things first
The first priority is to keep both the stray cat and your pets safe until a new home is found. If you have other pets, keep the stray apart from them to avoid potentially transmitting parasites or disease. Perhaps you can keep the stray in a small room or a bathroom. Do not allow your pets to share the stray’s dishes or litter box. If you cannot keep the cat for a few days, ask a friend to foster the cat for you, or board the cat (be sure to ask whether there’s a discount for rescued strays).
Make the stray more adoptable
It will be easier to place the stray if you can have her checked by a vet and tested for FIV (Feline Aids) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia). If the cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, consider having that done; there are low-cost spay/neuter programs that can help with the cost. (See Spay Georgia and Friends of Animals information on page 3.) You should also consider getting the cat vaccinated and dewormed for intestinal parasites. Socialize the stray as much as possible; visit and play with her, and get her used to being petted and brushed. If the cat is healthy, negative for feline leukemia and FIV and dewormed you can consider mixing him or her with your own cats. (See our Introducing Cats handout for more ideas.)
Spread the word!
You have to be assertive to find a new home for the stray!
Print a flier
Print a flier with a picture of the cat and your contact information. Tell a little about the cat (she’s playful, she’s quiet, she likes children, she doesn’t like dogs, etc.), provide any medical information you have (she’s been spayed, she’s been vaccinated, etc.), and why you need to place her. See the sample flier on page 4.
Place an ad in local newspapers, including the small weekly news sheets; many offer free “found” ads. Post signs in your neighborhood. Put a notice in your neighborhood newsletter. Ask to place a flier in veterinarians’ offices and pet supply stores. Post a notice on the bulletin board at your office, your gym, your church, and anywhere else you can think of. Many people prefer to adopt cats out of private homes rather than from shelters, but you need to reach them!
Word of mouth
Talk to friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, the clerk at the grocery store, and so on. The more people you talk to, the better the chances that you’ll find someone who will provide a great home for the cat. Keep a couple of fliers with you at all times so you can give one to anybody who expresses interest.
Wanting the stray is not enough!
You may be tempted to give the stray to the first person who calls – but please don’t! Carefully screen the callers until you’re sure that you’ve found a good home. Remember: the cat’s life depends on your decision. It is better to mistakenly turn down a good home than to put the cat into a bad home. You need to make sure that the person is willing and able to take on the expense and responsibility of owning a cat.
Ask to see where the cat will be living. Check the condition of other animals in the home to verify that they are well cared-for. Ask what happened to the person’s previous pets. Does the potential adopter have a vet? Does the person understand the necessity of vaccines and annual exams? Will the cat be fed a high-quality diet? Will she be kept safely indoors? Does the prospective owner understand the dangers of declawing? (See our Adoption Application for ideas.)
Do not give the cat away for free. People who are willing to pay something for a pet are more likely to be serious about caring for it. Sad to say, there are also people out there who gather free animals for medical experiments, or worse.
No-kill shelters and rescue organizations
Contact the no-kill shelters and rescue organizations in your area, and ask whether they can accept the stray. It is important to verify that it is a no-kill shelter, meaning that they will keep the stray until she is adopted. (Other shelters will usually euthanize an animal within a few days.) No-kill shelters are usually full, and you may have to place your stray on a waiting list.
You can find the names and phone numbers of local shelters in the phone book, often under the name of the county where you live.
There is lots of information on the Internet about shelters and rescue organizations. Refer to the Resources section below. Please remember that Web site addresses may change. Try using a search engine to locate shelters in your area.
Keep in mind that there are far too many homeless pets and too few people willing to help place them. If you don’t immediately get a return call from a rescue organization, try again. These hard-working animal-lovers are doing their best, but there are only so many hours in a day!
Weekend adoption events
Many organizations run weekend adoption events at stores such as Petsmart. There may be a waiting list to get your stray into one of these adoption events. Many of these organizations need volunteers; perhaps you can offer to help staff an adoption event in exchange for bringing your stray cat for adoption.
These organizations may also have names of possible foster parents.
The Cat Clinic of Roswell will be hosting weekend adoption events with Dr. Ray present to answer all your questions regarding cats. Please contact our office to find out the schedule, and look for postings on the web site.
Don’t give up!
It takes time and effort to place a stray cat into a new home, and it rarely happens in a single day. There are just too many homeless animals and too few homes. Keep at it until the cat has a suitable forever-home.
And if you decide you can squeeze one more stray into your home and your heart, so much the better! That leaves a potential home for another stray kitty! Contact our clinic for free advice on how to integrate the new cat into your household, or download information from our Web site.
Spay Georgia (770-662-4479)
Friends of Animals (800-321-4387)
Feline Rescue Contacts
Cherokee Humane Society, Lori Gastaldo (Cats Only)
Clayton County Humane Society
No kill adoption facility for dogs & cats
7810 North McDonough St., Jonesboro, GA 30236
Fancy Feline Rescue of the South LLC, Dale Thompson
Cats ONLY: Persian, Himalayan, Exotics, Ragdoll, Birman, Maine Coon, Siamese and mixes of these breeds.
PAWS Atlanta (formerly DeKalb Humane)
No kill adoption shelter for dogs & cats
e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
5287 Covington Highway, Decatur, GA 30035
Southern HOPE Humane Society
holds adoptions every weekend at the Kennesaw Petsmart, Petsmart Ponce DeLeon every Saturday, Petsmart LaVista every Saturday
Susan Thompson (Hemingway/polydactyl cats)
Website that specializes in FIV/FeLV/FIP Cats
Feral Cat Resources
Alley C.A.T.S. (Alley Cat Alliance for Trapping & Sterilization)
770-436-6758 (please leave message)
Provides education and information to individuals in order for them to implement a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program in their residential or business neighborhoods; also provides connections to low cost spay/neuter vets and trap depots.
404-292-8800 ext. 21
Feral Friends Network
If you know of feral cats that need to be trapped, fixed and released, this group can look to see if they have anyone to assist you with the trapping in your area. Then if you need financial help getting them fixed, you can contact SPOT at 404 584-SPOT(7768).
Project CatSnip leases traps for use in their Trap-Neuter-Release program. Traps are available at their Doraville Animal Welfare Center. A small deposit is required and is refundable when the trap is returned.
Spay $55.00 / Neuter $35.00 (Cats or kittens only!)
Reservations Call 770-448-6806