Publicise and Promote the Cat for Adoption

Part of Ireland's TNR Manual

How to Help Community Cats

Adapted for Ireland from Alley Cat Allies.

Once you feel certain that you cannot reconnect the cat with her home, it’s time to help find her a new one.

Check out Rehoming Strays from Best Friends. Though it's an American link, it has lots of useful advice relevant to Irish rehoming, including how to screen callers wanting to adopt your rescue animal.

Prepare the cat for adoption

To increase your chances of finding a home and the likelihood of success in the new home, we strongly encourage you to have the cat neutered and vaccinated before placement in the adoptive home.

If you have a nursing mother and her kittens, note that her kittens should stay with her until they are at least 8, preferably 12 weeks old - this is for both nutrition and for learning feline socialisation skills.

Most people will not want to adopt unhealthy felines

  • Feed adults, mums and kittens a healthy diet. Adults need 1/3 tin of cat food morning and evening or dry biscuits or both. Dry biscuits would probably be best in the circumstances. Kittens are best fed with a diet formulated for them, like Science Plan or Royal Canine kitten biscuits.
  • We'd recommend vaccinating as soon as possible. Healthy kittens can be vaccinated from 8 weeks.
  • Keep an eye on cats and kittens and take them to a vet if they exhibit signs of ill health.
  • We'd recommend neutering any cat or kitten over two months - they'll live longer and healthier lives!

Most people will not want to adopt feral kittens

  • If you have a small kitten or kittens, handle them for at least 45 minutes each day. Kids and young adults are great at this job, but the more people handle them the better. If the kittens are wary of approaching you, they should be played with daily using extendable toys, such as a feather stick and anything else that comes to hand (crumpled bits of paper, sticks, etc). The more often they are played with and the more time spent with them the better (Find out more on our Kittens Guide pages.).
  • Even someone spending time in the kittens vicinity without actually paying attention to them is good - the wee things should become curious and accustomed to the presence of humans. Ignoring them while spending time with them is not a bad thing to gain their trust.

Most people will not want to adopt felines who are not housetrained

  • Provide litter trays for the felines to use as toilet facilities. Cats are naturally clean creatures and usually train to a litter tray quickly, if they're not familiar with one already.

Create an attractive flyer

Post copies in as many places as possible. Flyers are inexpensive and often highly effective, especially when they include a good colour photo and description of the cat. Include at least one striking colour photo of the cat, looking relaxed and straight at the camera. The photo should focus on the cat’s face and body. If you can do a collage, like the one at the top of this page, so much the better. Canva is one of many great free online tools which will help you make a great poster - they even have templates to suit every need.

Creatively describe the cat’s colouring, distinguishing features, size, approximate age, gender, positive personality traits, habits and some of the things that make her special. If she's neutered, vaccinated and/or microchipped, include those details too. Give the cat a name, and explain the name if it is applicable. Keep the flyer short and only include relevant information about the cat - not what you have done for the cat, etc. It should also be positive in tone, even when describing restrictions or potential negatives (including health problems, disabilities, age or behaviour quirks), which should also be included. Cut the bottom of the page into pull-off strips, so that people can rip off your name, phone number, and email address.

You can use our example Adopt Me Poster pdf as a guideline - add your animal's photo and details and put them up in local vets, pet shops, charity shops, supermarkets, etc. You need to include your contact number, and can include your email address if you want. Other places to consider include: coffee shops, health clubs, religious institutions and libraries. Pass the posters out to your friends and family and ask them to post them in their neighbourhoods and offices as well.

Contact local rescue organisations and breed-specific rescue groups

If your stray cat seems to be a recognisable breed, such as a Siamese or Persian, research breed rescue groups online and ask for their help. They may be able to place the cat right away, as they often have waiting lists. Your local rescue groups can help by allowing you to participate in one of their adoption events, post on their online pet listings or put up a flyer on their bulletin boards. Some have low-cost neuter clinics, as well. Find them online - Rescue Animals Ireland and TAGS have national listings, but there are others out there so do a search yourself.

Place an ad online or in your local paper

Write a creative, punchy ad and post it in your local paper in print and electronically. Facebook has several useful networks including Feral Cats Ireland. Sample Classified Ad Text:

Orange tabby with great personality ready to steal your heart! Simba is a 3-year-old neutered male. Gets along well with other cats. Up to date on all shots. Call Niamh at 027-99999. Adoption fee required.

To discourage dishonest people, do not say 'free to a good home'. Indicate that there is a fee to adopt. Use the fee to pay for your neutering and vaccination expenses - or donate it to your local animal welfare group.

Note: An adoption fee is one of the best ways to deter breeders, snake owners and other people who often pretend to be potential adopters. 

Pass it on

You give the cat her best chance of being adopted by telling as many people as you can. Share adoption information in a company email, in newsletters for your neighbourhood or place of worship, at meetings of organisations or clubs, when you visit your veterinarian, and when you go to dinner with friends. Ask those people to do the same thing.

Be creative and persistent

Creativity and persistence are usually rewarded. Think about the best kind of environment for the cat and explore all options. There are many animals needing homes at any one time, so finding a home can take some work. The key thing this cat has going for her is you. Stay positive. There are good homes out there.

You are the cat’s best option for finding a new home

Some people think shelters or rescue groups would be best for placing the cat because they have experience, facilities and screening guidelines. However, an individual, particularly one who knows the animal, can focus all of their efforts on that particular cat, provide the most information to prospective adopters, and screen for the appropriateness of a new home. Also, rescues or sanctuaries are often stressful for a cat. The rescue setting, no matter how nice, can bring on stress-related problems. Anxiety, aggression and even illness are common, and these natural reactions may make adoption difficult or impossible. Lastly, remember that some rescues offer no guarantee on the cat’s life, and the cat could be killed if a home isn't found for her.

Related Links

Next Step: Adopt the cat into the best home possible

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Part of Ireland's TNR Manual

How to Help Community Cats