Cat Rescue How to Do a Home Approval for Cat Adoption

Learn how to perform a home approval for cat adoption. What to look for in a good new home for a cat, or kitten. How to screen potential owners for a cat or kitten. How to check to see if a person is going to be a good owner for an unwanted cat. Thing

“Adoption” is the term given for when a proper animal rescue finds a new home for a pet. They use contracts and usually have an adoption fee. When the public sells, or rehomes, a pet on their own, it is not a proper adoption, however this information will still apply in regards to checking out the cat's new owner.


A questionnaire is a good starting point, some bad owners can be weeded out through their answers. Some of the questions which should be on a questionnaire include:

  • Do you own your home or rent?
  • If you rent, do you have landlord approval for a cat?
  • Will the cat go outside?
  • Will the cat be declawed?
  • Do you have any pets? What kind? Are they spayed/neutered?
  • Have you had a cat in the past? What happened to it?
  • Do you have children? Ages?
  • Why do you want the cat? Breeding, pet, mouser, other.
  • How much time do you have to spend with the cat?
  • Does anyone have allergies to cats?

Home Approval

Many concerns can be addressed through a prospective pet owner's answers to the questionnaire, above, however many pet rescue groups are using “home approvals” as a final way to be sure the cat is getting a good home. If the person has stated they have a landlord, you should also double check to be sure the landlord has approved the cat.

As much as the home check is for your approval of the cat adoption, it is also to help the cat's new owners to prepare for the cat. You can use this as an opportunity to help them plan for the cat. You need to find out where the cat will have its litter box, where it will eat, and if they plan to let it outside and under what circumstances. For people who do wish to let a cat outside they should be advised that indoor cats live longer lives, and can be happy. Cats who are not spayed or neutered should not be allowed outside. An option is building a cat enclosure, or catio, and the home approval can be used to show a home owner where such a system can be built if they wish to let the cat out and keep it safe.

cat in cat enclosure

cat in a safe outdoor cat enclosure - photo by author

Some people are of the notion that they do not have to provide a litter box for the cat and will it go outside to do its business. This will make the cat a nuisance in the neighborhood. People should be given tips on where a good place for the litter box would be. Having it next to the laundry machine, for example, is often not a good idea because when a cat tries to use the litter box and a machine changes cycle it can frighten the cat and make it wary if using the litter box in the future.

People who are considering declawing a cat (illegal in some areas) can be encouraged into providing cat furniture and/or using a product made to cover the cat's claws (in some areas marketed as Soft Paws).

Families with young children might be better off to select an older kitten or cat, rather than a small kitten.  Young children can hurt small kittens, and small kittens will claw children, where an older cat knows to leave.

If the people have other pets be sure to speak to them in regards to how the new cat may take to those pets. Cats can be introduced to other cats, but it takes about 2 – 3 weeks. If they people have a dog, it should be tested to see if it is “cat friendly”, as well the cat they are interested in adopting should be checked to see how it reacts to dogs (cats who react strongly to dogs are more likely to be chased).

If the potential new owner has other pets, such as caged pets, or birds, the family should be talked to about how to keep these pets safe.

Farm homes are especially concerning because some farm homes do not feed the cats or provide them with good shelter in cold weather.

In general home checks for cat ownership is less intense than for a person interested in adopting a dog and should take less than 15 minutes. To summarize: The home check is used to ensure people are who they say they are (not hoarders) and can be used as an opportunity to council the new owner on where to put the litter box, point out common household dangers to cats, as well as other logistics of owning a cat (such as where to put the food if the person has other pets).  You can use this time to explain to people what to expect when they bring home a new cat, or kitten.

Other Reading

Questions to Ask yourself Before Getting a Cat or Kitten

Dog Rescue, how to do a Home Approval for Dog Adoption


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Roberta Baxter
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