Rehoming a Dog or Cat: Tips for a Successful Pet Transition

Rehoming a Dog or Cat: Tips for a Successful Pet Transition

Most of us take home a pet like a dog or cat with the intention of providing it with a loving home for the entirety of its life, but sometimes things happen that put a kink in the best laid plans.  For example, a pet owner may pass away before a dog or cat, or they may find themselves facing unexpected financial or medical issues that preclude them from providing proper care.  Sometimes animals run away and they can’t be found by their owners.

In these scenarios, cats and dogs may have to be rehomed, or introduced into new living situations where they can enjoy health and happiness for the rest of their days.  Whether you’ve found a stray or you’re trying to find a new home for your own pet or the pet of a relative that has passed away, there are several things you can do to ensure a successful pet transition instead of taking an animal to a local shelter where it may be euthanized.

Always Start by Looking for Owners of Strays

Dogs and cats can be smarter than we give them credit for, and sometimes they find ways to escape, despite our best efforts to keep them safely contained in a home or yard.  Even if you find a stray without a collar or other visible signs of ownership, it’s always best to check and see if the animal is chipped or if owners have posted a notice for their missing animal at local shelters.

The first thing you should do if you find a stray is take the cat or dog to a local shelter to see if you can recover identifying information from a microchip.  Even if none is available, most cities have laws requiring that you notify the shelter, or in some cases, surrender the animal, when you find a stray.

Most owners will call or visit local shelters in search of a lost pet, so you really need to do this, even if you find an animal that has no collar/tags or that appears to be hurt.  Strays may lose a collar or become injured by cars or unfamiliar environments – they’re not necessarily mistreated.  Just think about how you would feel if someone found your lost cat or dog and decided to keep it instead of notifying the local shelter.  When you go to the shelter, you can always lay a claim to the animal in order to adopt it, in the event no owner comes forward.

Finding a Home for a Pet You Can’t Keep

No matter how much you want to keep a stray, take in a pet that belonged to a loved one that passed away, or even keep pets you’ve adopted, there are going to be times when you just can’t keep a cat or dog.  What can you do to help an animal in need find a good home?

The best place to start is by prepping to get the word out.  Take a high-quality photo of the animal and then write up a description.  Try to be specific about the breed (if known), the age, and details about health, including whether the animal is fixed, if it’s current on shots, and if it needs any special care, such as food for urinary tract issues or medication for diabetes, just for example.  You don’t want a new owner to be surprised by these details after the fact.

You should also include some information about the disposition of the animal.  Is it comfortable around kids and other pets, or will it flourish in a home with a single person or a couple, for example?  All of these details will help you to find the perfect forever home for the animal in your care.

Next, you need to hit up your network of contacts to see if anyone you know and trust is interested in taking in a dog or cat.  If this doesn’t work out, you may need to cast a wider net.  This could mean working with no-kill shelters, rescue groups, or breed-specific rescue groups, or perhaps posting photos and information on pet adoption websites, or even posting a classified ad as a last resort.

You’ll want to have the animal bathed and groomed before meeting prospective owners.  Conduct phone interviews first to screen for good candidates and ask plenty of questions about the living situation.

Are there kids?  Other pets?  Will the animal be alone a lot?  Is the new owner physically and financially fit to care for the animal?  With some leg work and common sense, you can find a suitable home for a pet that you simply can’t keep yourself, and ensure a mutually beneficial situation for both the animal and its new owner.


To learn more about the team at Central Texas Animal Hospital, view our team page or contact us today to schedule an appointment! We offer veterinary services for cats and dogs in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area.