Feeling Guilty About Rehoming Cats? (My Story)

Feeling Guilty About Rehoming Cats

Are you feeling guilty about rehoming your cat? Struggling to come to terms with the emotions around giving them away, or dealing with it in the days following?

I understand. I really do.

I’ve had to rehome a cat before, and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do.

But it was necessary at the time. I know it was for the best, and my cat had a better home for it.

Telling myself this and understanding that was the best thing for her is what helped me get through it.

I’m not going to try to tell you that you should be able to just get over it. Or that you’ll feel fine a day or so later, or ever stop missing them – because it’s not that easy.

There are some things you can do to lessen the feelings of guilt though. Because you shouldn’t really feel guilt, especially if rehoming your cat is the best thing for them.

Why It’s Normal to Feel Guilty About Rehoming a Cat

Why It's Normal to Feel Guilty About Rehoming a Cat

As cat owners, we form special bonds with our fluffy friends. A bond that people who do not own cats – or any pet – can never really understand.

Which is why you should always try and talk about how you feel with someone who has owned a pet.

When we take in a cat, we’re taking on the responsibility of looking after them and making sure their needs are met.

Because they can’t do it by themselves.

So, if the need comes to give them away, we feel like we’ve let them down. It’s normal. With this feeling often comes guilt.

It’s easy for me to say this, but you shouldn’t feel guilty. Sad, yes. Like you’ve lost someone close, yes.

But guilt isn’t the right word. Because not only am I sure you did your best for your cat, I’m also sure you didn’t want to resort to rehoming them if you could have avoided it – right?

Do Cats Get Sad When Rehomed?

Cats do get sad when they are first rehomed, yes.

There is a transitioning period in which they will miss you while they try to get used to their new surroundings.

Which makes perfect sense. Cats are creatures of habit and even the smallest changes to their daily routines can upset them. They will also pick up on your emotions.

So, moving home and everything changing is a big deal.

Every cat reacts differently to being rehomed and time it takes them to adjust will vary. To make you feel better, however, all cats that go to a loving home will adjust and find happiness in their new home.

It typically takes a few weeks for a cat to become comfortable in a new home. They need to map out their new surroundings, mark their territory, get to know the new sounds and smells, and so on.

They will settle in though. Trust me, as you’re at home thinking about your cat try not to worry. They’ll be just fine, as will you in a few weeks too!

Ways to Help You Feel Better About Rehoming Your Cat

Ways to Help You Feel Better About Rehoming Your Cat

It’s going to be tough on you letting go of your cat. There are some things you can do (if possible) to help you feel better about it though.

Here are some of the things that will make you more comfortable with the process:

Interview the new owners – Depending on what channels you’re using to rehome your cat, if you can interview and meet the new owners you’ll feel much better knowing your cat is going to a good home.

It helps if you can look around their home too. When you’re missing your cat and thinking about them, you’ll be able to visualize where they are and what they’re doing.

Put together some notes – A new owner isn’t going to know all those little things about what makes your cat happy like you are.

Put together a little pack for the new owners. Include some of their favorite toys, a blanket they sleep on so they have familiar smells, and some notes about them.

Let the new owner know what their favorite foods are, how they like to be fussed over and petted, and anything else that’s relevant.

How Do You Deal With Rehoming a Cat?

I can tell you what I did to deal with giving my cats away, and I’d love to hear how you dealt with it too.

I posted an advert and let someone come forward to me that wanted my cat. This way I was able to meet them and talk about all the little things my cat loved as I mentioned above.

I was going to ask them to give me updates for a few weeks. I decided against that at the last minute though, I thought it wasn’t really fair on the new owners and it was going to be hard on me.

You might feel differently. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer regarding whether or not you receive updates.

A clean break was better for me.

I kept some pictures and videos, which I look at now and again. It just became so much easier over time basically.

They say time is the best healer, and it’s true. When I think about my cat I’m able to smile now. At first, I’d just feel like crying.

I know she’s at a warm and loving home, and that makes me feel good.

How about you? Have you ever had to rehome a cat or are you currently thinking about doing so?

Feel free to let me know below in the comments section. It will probably help others in the community facing this tough decision too.

In Summary

Feeling guilty about rehoming cats is normal. It’s a tough decision, one of the toughest I’ve ever had to make.

If you’re currently faced with this decision, my thoughts and good wishes are with you.

All I can do is reassure you that if you know you’re making the best choice for your cat, you shouldn’t feel bad.

It’s OK to miss them, that’s totally normal too. We all miss special people and pets that we have to let go of.


Image credits – Photos by Roby Allario, Severin Demchuk, and Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


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