How to Cope with Giving Up a Cat?

So, you’ve decided to give up your cat, and now you realize how difficult it is. Giving up your cat doesn’t make you a bad owner; different circumstances can sometimes tie our hands. When it becomes impossible to keep our pets, we have to make that tough decision to let them go.

But the problem is how they will adjust in their new home – if they ever will – and how to cope with giving up a cat. You probably know by now that the best thing you can do for your feline friend is to ensure he gets a good home. That said, there’s no clear-cut answer to “do cats feel sad when you give them away?” 

However, in this article, you’ll learn what determines how quickly a cat adjusts to a new home. We’ll also show you the best way to rehome a cat and how to cope with giving up a cat. 

Let’s start with how your cat feels when you give him away.

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Do Cats Feel Sad When You Give Them Away?

You see, cats are emotional animals even if they don’t show it as often as dogs. Your cat can get very sad and depressed when rehomed. The rehoming process usually stresses a rehomed cat. 

Cats often miss their previous owners and become overly alert and defensive in the unfamiliar home they find themselves in. Introducing your cat gradually to his new home can make his adjustment process easier. 

Rehoming a cat is hard, even if his new home is a familiar place. So, you have to know how rehoming affects your feline companion to make it easier for him and help you cope after he’s gone. 

How Does Rehoming Affect My Cat? 

All cats don’t behave the same when rehomed. Some cats don’t even realize what’s happening until they are dropped, and they can’t find you. Rehoming is a quick change, and it’s not like you both discussed his relocation. 

However, as soon as your cat realizes that he’s now “trapped” in an unfamiliar home, he can become frightened and intimidated. Cats are generally curious animals, but they are also territorial, and when they’re in their territory/home, they are less alert and stressed.

So, you can expect rehoming to affect your cat’s behavior, especially for the first week. If your cat is older, he’ll likely act defensively anytime his new owner is in sight. But if your kitty is younger, he’ll be more frightened and not very confident around his new owner. 

Do Cats Miss Their Previous Owners?

Even after getting familiar with their new home and the initial fright and confusion pass away, it’s normal for cats to act depressed and sad. Cats take more time to accept a new owner than most pets. They also react badly when their new owner tries to comfort them, especially the adults.

It is common for a rehomed cat to spend weeks calling and looking around for his previous owners. When they are like this, they usually want to be lonely and might run away if given a chance. 

This behavior is because cats take a longer time to bond with their owners, but when they do, they bond tightly. And they need some time to adjust to losing their previous owners. But they’ll eventually stop missing their previous owner after some time. As long as they are treated with love and care, and their new owner gives them enough time to adjust, they’ll be fine within weeks. 

Will My Cat Remember Me After Some Time?

Yes, your cat can remember you even after he has settled in his new home. Cats can miss and remember their former owners after rehomed, but not all cats behave this way. Even after months and even years, your cat might still recognize you. He might even show affection towards you, but that’s not always the case.

If your cat has formed a strong bond with his new owner, it is less likely for him to show you any kind of affection. He might remember you but will definitely be defensive with his new owner as he was with you. 

That said, you shouldn’t allow your cat to see you in his new home just days after being rehomed. You’re going to only cause him a ton of stress and depression after you’re gone. He hasn’t gotten over you and will run to you to take him home. So, if you’ve not come to take him home, don’t just show up when he’s still struggling to adjust.

Cats do remember their previous owners, but they are unlikely to show any affection even if it could happen after a long time. 

What is the Best Way to Rehome a Cat?

If you have to rehome your cat, the least you can do is make the process easier for him. the first thing you have to do is to find a good home for your kitty. You want to be sure you’re handing over your cat to someone that can take good care of him. 

You also need to find out whether your cat’s new home is home to other pets or children. Will your cat be okay around kids and other pets? Also, if you want to rehome multiple cats, you should consider sending them to the same home. It makes it easier for them. 

When you’ve got a good home, you can ask your cat’s future owner for a blanket or towel. Place the towel in your pet’s bed or use it to pet your cat so he can get used to the scent. Scents are a huge deal for cats, and the more they are familiar with a particular scent, the more friendly anything associated with that scent is. 

Additionally, if your cat’s future owner will change your cat’s diet in his new home, ask what food brand they plan on using. Start using the same brand, so when your cat gets there; it doesn’t become a strange food to him. Rehoming is hard, and changing diets at the same time makes it harder. 

Image by Sofia Iivarinen from Pixabay

What More Can You Do to Rehome Your Cat?

You can as well offer to purchase pheromone dispensers for your kitty’s future home. The pheromones will make the transition easier by reducing your cat’s stress. After the first dispense charge, chances are your feline buddy won’t need it anymore. 

And when it is finally time to let go of your cat, you should give your cat’s new owner your cat’s favorite toys and treats. Also, send one of your towels or blankets with your cat unwashed. It’ll help your cat hang on to your scent while he adjusts slowly. 

You’ll want to recommend that your cat be kept in a small space for his first few days, so the transition is less intimidating. 

That said, irrespective of what you do, you need to accept that your cat will miss you and might be depressed for the first few days. So, do your best to make it easier by following the tips above.

Will My Cat Miss Me When I Give Him Away?

If you and your cat have a strong bond, he will end up depressed and sad when you give him away. Cats are creatures of habit, and when that is altered, they miss both their schedule and the person they usually share it with. 

Will my cat miss me when I give him away? Yes, he most likely will. However, there’s been a constant debate in the scientific field about the matter. 

In 2015, the University of Lincoln carried out a study that concluded that human’s requirement in cats’ lives isn’t lower than in dogs’ lives. Although, that doesn’t imply that cats aren’t capable of bonding with humans. It only means that cats don’t really need humans for their wellbeing – they know this, and we do too. 

Nonetheless, the study does not indicate that we don’t always have a bonding relationship with cats. Some kitties prefer to jump on you for cuddling, while others don’t want you touching them at any point.

Meanwhile, some other experts have disagreed with the study from Lincoln University. They suggest that cats, like dogs, also experience separation anxiety. Cats, too, feel depressed or sad when their owners don’t return when they normally do. However, that type of behavior largely depends on the level of bonding between the cat and its owner.

Effects of Rehoming a Cat

The effects of rehoming a cat aren’t limited to humans. That means it’s not all about you or how to cope with giving up a cat. Rehomed cats slowly demonstrate some common behaviors, which is why you need to be sure you’re not handing your cat over to a novice. 

The Fear of Uncertainty

Cats get attached to habits and familiar sights, so when you bring them to an entirely unfamiliar place, they’ll most likely withdraw. Cats are naturally curious, and you can take solace in knowing that they’d quickly want to explore their new environment. But they can also be very cautious and might recline into themselves due to their fear of uncertainty.

Competition for Resources Between Other Pets 

A newcomer cat might reject food in his new home, but hunger strikes, he’ll become aggressive towards anything between him and food. Even if your cat is used to eating with other pets in your house, he might not play along with sharing food with unfamiliar pets. So, your cat’s new owner needs to be careful when introducing him to other pets in the house.

Depression from Abandonment 

Usually, cats quickly adapt to changes in their surrounding, but that’s not always the case for all of them. For that kind of cat, the disappearance of familiar faces and loss of well-known habitat may be unbearable. When cats fall into depression, they might stop drinking and eating altogether, leading to them developing fatty liver syndrome. 

How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Adjust to a New Owner?

Generally, it doesn’t take longer than a week and a half for a healthy and happy cat to get familiar with his new home. Although, you need to put in as many measures as mention in the “what is the best way to rehome a cat” section. 

Cats with trauma may take longer to get used to a new owner. But if your cat hasn’t adjusted after four weeks, then you should consider seeking help from an expert ethologist to identify and resolve the problem.

What Determines How Quick a Cat Adjust to a New Home? 

How long it takes for a cat to get used to a new owner and a new home depends largely on the individual. There are a ton of factors that impact how long it’ll take for a cat to settle in a new home. They include:


If a cat has not been well socialized, a move is usually a big deal for them, and they need more time to adjust. Nonetheless, behavioral issues will need to be handled before and after the move.


A kitten still has to adjust to the world and are yet to bond with their owner. So, rehoming won’t be a problem for them. However, adult cats are more territorial and wouldn’t appreciate changing a new home suddenly.


If the cat’s new home houses more new faces and other pets, it might take him more time to adjust. Some cats may accept the new faces, while some do after some time.


If a cat is moved from a home where he has more space to move freely to an environment where he has to remain in one place, it will take more time for him to adjust.


A cat that has suffered trauma may find a move very disruptive. It may take longer for him to adjust to an environment his unfamiliar with. In cases of trauma, the cat might never adjust.

Photo by Chunli Ju on Unsplash

Final Thoughts 

How to cope with giving up a cat has more to with how much you make the rehoming process easier for your cat. You need to know that your cat is safe and loved in his new home. And you’ll want to know how he’s adjusting.

But as for you, the best way to cope is to find solace in the fact that you followed the tips in this article and your cat is in a good home. Remember all the wonderful time you had together and appreciate your kitty for all the love. 

Accept that your cat is being loved where he is – not just by you. 

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