So it always surprises me when someone contacts my rescue about giving up their cats because they're moving. This sometimes happens several times a day! I suppose I can understand people falling on hard times and having to move in with family members who don't like cats, although even that can have some work-arounds. But it's the folks who say they're moving someplace where cats aren't allowed who really puzzle me.
Would you move someplace where children weren't allowed and leave your kids behind? Remember, your cats are part of your family, too. They're attached to you, love you and may be even more forgiving of your annoying habits than your kids are. When you adopted them, you made a commitment to them for life.
If a move is in your foreseeable future, here are some suggestions to help you honor that commitment.
- No move is too far. Even traveling from one coast to another with cats is easier than it may sound. In the car, your cats may complain at first. But eventually they'll get tired of meowing nonstop and will fall asleep. Someone I know traveled across the country with several dogs, two cats, a bird and two kids!
- If you're renting, search online for pet friendly housing. In most areas, you'll find lots, including apartments, townhouses and single family homes. There are also realtors who specialize in helping people find homes where cats are welcome.
- If you can't find a place, ask for one on Craig's List. Say how many cats (and kids) you have. If your cats are indoor/outdoor, mention that, too. That might be a selling point for some landlords. Be sure to say the cats are neutered/spayed, vaccinated and well-behaved. Offer to provide references from your vet and people who know them. But do not offer to get them declawed! If the landlord is concerned that they'll claw the carpeting, put plastic nail caps on them. They work!
- If paying the pet deposit will be a problem for you, ask a rescue group to help you do some fundraising. The group might be willing to use its Facebook page to help you raise the money.
- Read all the fine print before you sign a lease. Be sure you understand the landlord's expectations, and he understands yours. If his expectations seem unrealistic to you, renegotiate the lease. Since he won't want to lose a renter, he should be willing to do this, even if he does it begrudgingly.
- If you're moving to a community with a condominium or homeowners association, read the bylaws before you sign the lease or contract to buy. Some homeowners associations limit the number of animal companions residents may have or have other restrictions, like cats being outside. Indoor/outdoor cats rarely make the transition to strictly indoors successfully, and your cats are not going to be happy if they're no longer able to go out. Try to meet and talk with your future neighbors, too. It takes just one person who doesn't like seeing cats outside to make everyone's life miserable.
- If you're really stuck and can't find a place where your cats are welcome, there's a Facebook page where people are willing to foster cats temporarily. Or ask for a temporary foster home on Craig's List. A rescue group might be able to help you find one, too. Stay in touch with the foster while your cat is in her care. And sign a contract stating when you'll reclaim the cat. The contract should give the foster permission to put the cat up for adoption if you don't pick him up when you say you will.
- And finally, if you're absolutely determined that your cat can't move with you, these tips will help you rehome him yourself so he doesn't end up in a shelter or rescue.
Aside from your cat's feelings, there's another reason to take your cat with you when you move. Sadly, shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with rejected cats. Do you really want to add more stress to an already stressed system? This overwhelmed rescuer hopes the answer is no.
My cats and I are not planning to move any time soon, although I have to admit I'm getting a bit tired of our third floor condo. But it's the perfect location for them, so we'll be here for a while. And when I leave, they'll be coming with me. They're my family, and I would never leave them behind.