Top 10 reasons people give for giving up their cats

Animal Welfare Specialist
Cathy has worked in the animal welfare field for more than 25 years. As a Director of Public Relations for local and national animal welfare agencies, Cathy developed and managed public relations programs, wrote press materials, and prepared staff to handle media interviews on animal issues.

It’s a myth to think that most cats end up at shelters because they have behavior problems. The truth is, most cats are turned into animal shelters because of changes in people’s lives, which means there are lots of great cats waiting at shelters for a new home. Here’s a top ten list of why cats end up in shelters from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy.

Many cats end up at shelters because of allergies.

1. Too many in house — Cats multiply quickly and very often a person will relinquish a feline because there are too many cats in the house. Cats can be very territorial with each other and so having a lot of cats in a small home can be very stressful for the feline.

2. Allergies –Many cats are given up because someone in the home, usually a new baby or young child, develops allergies. While this is understandable, I would caution parents to make sure it is indeed a feline allergy since many toddlers can be allergic to foods, like dairy products, that sometimes mimic airborne allergies.

3. Moving — Cats don’t like change, but being a pet owner who has moved 17 times with my felines, I can tell you that they can handle it and adjust more easily, the less stressed you are about the move.

4. Cost of pet maintenance — Pets are not cheap to care for. The average cost of caring for a cat is estimated at about $300 a year. That includes food, toys, vaccinations, and an annual visit to the vet. It cost a lot more if your feline gets sick or injured, has special dietary needs, or takes medication. 

5. Landlord issues — If you rent, then you must get approval from your landlord to have a cat. Some people lie about these things and then when the landlord finds out they have a cat, they end up getting rid of the pet rather than moving.

6. No homes for littermates — Many people refuse to spay or neuter their cats and the result is a few litters a year. While the pet owner may be able to find a home for one or two of the kittens, more often than not, the remaining littermates end up at the animal shelter.

7. House soiling — When cats get stressed, they sometimes forget to use the litter box. There often can be many reasons for cats not using the litter box, from the type of litter and placement of the box to how many cats are in the house using the same box and the type of cleaner you are using. Sadly, few people have the patience to sort these things out and the cat ends up at the shelter. The good news is, most cats go on to new homes with no litter box problems.

8. Personal problems — Divorce, job loss, major injury, foreclosure on your home are many of the personal reasons people give for giving up pets. This is tough because certainly if you can’t pay your own bills, it may be tough to care for a pet properly.

9. Inadequate facilities — This usually means the person has now rented a home that doesn’t allow pets. Or they are moving and the cat has been an outdoor cat and they don’t think the cat can adjust to a new home or living indoors now. But cats can and do adjust, they just requirea longer adjustment period than dogs. So be patient.

10. Doesn’t get along with other pets — A recent study suggested that cats and dogs can get a long, but that they can get along better if the cat is the first pet in the home.