Because I’m very vocal about animal advocacy, I get a lot of questions and requests from people about animals in their lives. Friends of friends contact me a lot for a few usual issues, and I find myself repeating this info often.

One of the most popular questions I get is something like “I found/have/know a cat that I don’t know what to do with. What do I do?”

Unfortunately, unless your cat is a rock star, super friendly, and super healthy, if you take it to Animal Services, it likely will not fare well. You cannot take animals to the Humane Society (I hear you have to make a sizable donation to have them rehome your pet, but I don’t know for sure). So what to do to make sure the cat you found/rescued/can’t have gets a good new home? That’s a tough one.

This is for Gainesville and area only:

[Found cat] If you found a cat and think it may have an owner, post it to the Facebook page Gainesville Pet Finder (instructions on the page for posting). If an owner doesn’t turn up, you still might find interest for a new potential owner.

[Urgent need] If the cat you have is an outside cat and you are moving, ask a neighbor to feed it until you can find a home.

[Urgent need] If the cat is an indoor cat, ask (beg) friends until you can find someone to take it temporarily until you can find a home.

[Rehome on CraigsList] We all hate to put pets on Craiglist because of the random weirdos and assholes that frequent the free service. Ask for a rehoming fee to weed out sketchy people. Frame your post is a way that asks local heroes to rescue a good kitty in need of a place to live. Be completely honest about the cat’s needs. You’ll be surprised at the response sometimes. And make sure you post a few good pictures.

[Community help] Post a few pictures on Facebook with info on adopting the kitty, and ask friends to repost the pics/info to spread the word. Contact the Human Society’s Facebook page and they will usually repost a picture, details, and contact info on people trying to rehome pets.

[Rescue Groups] You can try contacting one of the many rescue organizations in the county. They are often maxed out and run by volunteers, so it isn’t always easy to get your foot in the door. They all have different ways of operating, so find out the details of the group you are talking to. Sometimes if you donate to the group, or if you are able to act as the foster, they are more willing to take on your cat as an adoptable animal. This may mean you need to bring your cat to adoption events. Make sure you know the organization is registered and in good standing. Animal Services or the Humane Society can often verify if the organization is in good standing.

[Reach out] If you can find a friend willing to take the cat for a few weeks, it will give you time and take the pressure off so you can consider options. Especially if you are stuck in a sudden move or life change. People are more willing to help if it’s for a specific amount of time.

[Absolutely DO] If you found a cat(s), make sure it is fixed and has its rabies shots. Try No More Homeless Pets, or if you can’t afford it, contact Operation Catnip. Regardless of what happens to the cat(s), at least you know they will be healthy and unable to increase the cat population.

[Absolutely do NOT] If the kittens are younger than 8 weeks, or if the cat is unhealthy or skittish in any way, taking them to Animal Services is a death penalty. We are pushing for a ‘no kill’ Alachua County, but that is for adoptable cats only, and young kittens or sickly and antisocial cats can be labeled unadoptable. Especially when the shelter is full. Also be cautious about adopting cats through CraigsList. Find out as much as you can about potential adopters, and even call Humane Society to see if the person is on their ‘caution’ list.

[Also absolutely do NOT] Cats are animals but releasing them ‘back to the wild’ is a death sentence. They’ll last about 3 days in the country before being killed by a coyote, and about 4 in town before being hit by a car or worse. They’re domestic animals that, despite their jungle attitude, have the survival instincts of a concussed duckling at times.

There is no perfect way to handle an urgent need to rehome a cat, whether it’s a family pet or a found stray. Your best resources are your friends and neighbors. Often finding a temporary home is the best thing you can do to take the pressure off until you can find a long-term home.


Free Spay/Neuter for Community Cats
Operation Catnip of Gainesville

Operation Catnip is a TNR program (trap, neuter, release) aimed at Alachua county’s feral and community cats. They have clinics almost every month, and provide spay/neuter, shots, and necessary medical care for free. If you have a cat that needs to be fixed but you cannot pay for it, please find out more about Operation Catnip.

Low-cost Spay/Neuter for Dogs & Cats

No More Homeless Pets

NMHP is part of Alachua County’s efforts to become a no-kill shelter community. A major part of this is to provide very affordable spay/neuter options for pet owners. NMHP offers basic services like spay/neuter, vaccines, flea/parasite treatment, and microchipping through their Operation Petsnip project.

Cat Behavior Issues
Jackson Galaxy

If you have a cat with behavior issues, it can be very frustrating for both of you. I highly recommend learning more about cat behavior, and one of my favorite resources is Jackson Galaxy (he has that show My Cat From Hell, which should be called People Who Don’t Understand Cats). His site is helpful to learn about cats and the major issues with cats that you may be facing, and his YouTube channel is full of handy, quick videos that address common behavior challenges. You just might learn about your feline and get a few handy pointer on dealing with issues. (Hint: The number one reason for people ‘getting rid of’ their cat is inappropriate urination issues.)