24 Red Flags When Adopting Cats To Others

There are red flags that serve as warnings when adopting a cat out to others. You can download a free example adoption application here, which is drafted based predominately on the 24 red flags reviewed in this post.

If you’ve found a stray cat, help at a cat rescue, or are helping find a home for another cat this article has many great points. It will give you some ideas when evaluating prospective cat adopters.

A very important part of the adoption process is using an adoption application for evey prospective adopter. As strange as it may sound, it’s a great idea to even make friends, family and relatives fill out the application too. The reason this is helpful is because sometimes even the people closest to us aren’t right to adopt a cat but we don’t always notice it until we look at the facts.

Always ask critical questions to make an informed decision as to who to adopt a cat to. If you just give it to anyone who seems nice there is a good chance the cat will pay the price, and suffer neglect, abuse, or unncessary euthanization. Doing a little due dilegence will severly reduce the risk the cat will face when going to a new home.

The Red Flag List

Below are 25 red flags to consider for prospective cat adopters. Many people are nice and have good intention, but the fact finding may reveal some significant risks that would otherwise not be apparent.

#1 – Lovers Living Together

While it’s common for two lovers to live together as they date, it’s also common for them to break up while living together. If they break up things could get very ugly for the cat and other pets. Sometimes the cat is kicked out of the house, left to fend for it’s self. Othertimes, the cat is taken to be euthanized after the breakup. Whether it’s because neither wants to keep the cat, or the landlord does not allow the cat at the new property the result may be euthanization or homelessness.

There is no guarantee that even a married couple will not divorce or separate, however, it is legally binding and more difficult, time consuming and expensive to part ways. Spouses will often tolerate differnces to keep a good home for children if they have any.

#2 – Living In Same Residence For Only A Short Time

When people have only been at an apartment or home for a short period of time, check how many addresses they have lived at in the last 5 years. This will help you better understand how stable they are, and if they move continuously.

While it’s anyone’s personal preference to live wherever they wish, it also increases the hazard of not bringing or being allowed to bring the cat with them eventually. It will likely reduce risk to the cat if only adopting it to someone with a stable residence history.

#3 – Bad Pet History / Rehoming Or Surrendering Pets

Has the applicant ever rehomed, surrendered a previous cat to a rescue or had a cat euthanized unncessarily? If so, what reason do you have to believe it won’t happen again if their circumstances change? If this applicant becomes the owner, the cat may pay with it’s life or live in a terrible cat rescue confined to a cage to deteriorate until it eventually dies.

#4 – Dangerous Animals In The Home With The Cat

Does the owner have violent dogs or other agressive predatory animals on the property the cat will live at? It only takes one brief moment of instinct for the cat to be mulled to death by large agressive dogs. It happens every day, so please don’t let it happen to the cat you are trying to find a loving, SAFE home for.

#5 – Abusive Children

Children are great, and are more important to parents than words can describe. Some children, however, are abusive to animals. The cat has no control over what family they are placed with, and rely on you to ensure they will not be forced to live in terror with abusive children. Find out if the children have histories of violence of any form.

#6 – Dangerously Low Income

Sadly, human adopters with large hearts and low income don’t work well together for pet cats. Cats, while less than children, do cost money to keep fed and healthy. If the applicant doesn’t have a relatively good paying job it may cause the cat to be deprived of food, nutrition or healthcare that it desperately needs. It’s too bad that finances play a reality in pet ownership, especially for those many cat lovers with big hearts. Untimately, the cat’s needs must be considered first though.

#7 – People With An Unstable Work History

Some people work at the same job their entire career, others switch jobs regularly. The frequency with which an applicant works for new employers is their option. The problem is that if they loose a job or are unable to find new employment for even a short period of time, they may not have enough income to retain a cat. Unstable work histories can cause cats’ their lives if they get sent to be euthanized or kicked out of the house if the applicant can no longer afford them.

#8 – Applicants Who Travel Often

Many people have jobs requiring significant travel. Other people enjoy frequent vacation destinations. While there’s nothing wrong with people traveling, it can pose some challenges to cats and other pets. Who’s watching the cat while their guardians are away from home? Are the pet sitters doing a quality job? Are the pet sitters competent individuals or just doing the bare minimum or even less? Is there a pet sitter at all, or do they leave the cat locked up alone at home for a week because ‘cats are low maintenance’?

These are a few concerns to investigate when adopting a cat to people that travel. Again, just because people travel doesn’t make them bad people, but kennels and pet sitters get expensive quickly when traveling on a regular basis.

#9 – People Who Can’t Tolerate Carpet Stains Or Furniture Stains

Many cats don’t cause carpet stains or scratch furniture, but some do.

If a person can not tolerate carpet stains or furniture scratches, the cat may pay the price with it’s life. If the cat begins exhibiting either of these or similar destructive behaviors, they cat may be euthanized or given to a bad home.

Solutions have been found that work to stop or prevent such behaviors, but what if none of the solutions work? If the solutions do not work the cat will likely be euthanized, kicked out, or sent to a bad home.

While many cats are not destructive, it is part of some cats’ nature to scratch furniture just as it would a tree trunk outdoors. Similarly, some cats will not use a litter box, for an assortment of reasons that may or may not be treatable.

If someone wants to adopt a cat, the decision needs to be considered very seriously instead of just making an impulsive decision in the moment. The reprocussions of adopting should be considered before adopting instead of hoping the cat will not behave a certain way.

#10 – People Who Want A Cat To Fill Selfish Needs

Some people adopt a cat for their own needs instead of to help a cat in need. There is nothing wrong with loving cats and even adopting a cat because you want one. The problem becomes unhealthy when someone only wants a cat because they themselves want to feel loved, with little regard for the cat.

In this situation the expectation is for the cat to love the human parent, and may be more of a one-sided relationship. It may be the cat’s ‘job’ to show affection to the owner even if the owner has little care for the cat.

It’s an unhealthy relationship for both, and likely destined for failure. If the cat does not show enough affection to the owner it may be euthanized for not meeting their needs well enough. Of course it could be kicked out or sent to another bad home as well.

This is a big red flag, but may be difficult to uncover in a brief adoption application. That’s why it’s always good to ask if the person will agree to return the cat to you if things don’t work out, or if they need to re-home it in the future. Sadly, even if they agree to this that doesn’t always mean they will follow through. Detecting and avoiding this personality disorder is very hard to do. If self centered symptoms are discovered, however, by suttle phrases while talking to the applicant, they should definitely be avoided.

Pay special attention to mention of wanting a cat to fill the applicant’s personal needs or other self centered reasons. Especially if they are trying to fill a void such as someone who just broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend etc. Another example would be someone who just moved to a new area where they don’t know anyone and want a cat to be their friend until they find more meaningful human relationships.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a cat to be your friend. A cat should not, however, be used as a fill in substitute for temporary emotional support or relief. A cat is to be a loved and cherished member of the family.

#11 – Unstable Or Violent People In The Home

The applicant may be gentle, or they may be violent. The applicant may be loving, but someone else in the home may be violent. It goes without saying that violent or unstable people can be a danger to cats that live with them. Whether the person abuses animals intentionally, or unintentionally through fear and intimidation, the cat will likely live a nervous life, or even a life of harm, abuse, or torture. The cat may even die from abuse.

Simply stated, do not allow a cat to be adopted into a home with known violent or unstable people. On the adoption application request permission using signatures and dates for every adult in the household to perform a background checks. Then actually run a background check on them. Also, ask applicants if children have ever had a history of animal abuse.

Keep the cat safe by REFUSING to adopting it to a home where anyone has a history of violence to people or animals. The cat is relying on you to adopt them to a safe loving home free from violence and harms way.

#12 – Cat Haters In The Home

Not all people love cats, and too often the applicant will love cats, and have a significant other or spouse that hates them. If anyone in the house hates cats it’s not a good match for your cat as the risk of abuse is high.

Only adopt your cat to a home where it will be cherished and adored by all.

#13 – People Who Only Text To Inquire About Adopting Cats

Strangely, people will inquire from ads you place online, but will not call you or accept calls from you about the cat. Often if you try to call it will ring endlessly, have a full voicemail box, the person will say they don’t know what you are calling about, or you will get hung up on.

Fortunately, this situation is easy to detect by their refusal to speak with you directly.

Aparently they either aren’t serious, or somehow expect to receive the cat without talking to you. Either way, disregard the inquiry and move on without repeated attempts to follow back up with them.

Occassionally you will likely reach an interested prospective adopter who will answer and who is serious. Those are the people you want to talk to and make sifting through the other dead-end inquiries worth it.

#14 – People Who Will Not Allow You To Visit Their Home First

People who will not let you visit their home for a quick walk though may have something to hide. If the person wants to adopt a cat from you, but won’t allow you to see where the kitty will live, why not? What do they have to hide?

Maybe what they want to hide is a mess, but maybe they really are trying to hide hideous living conditions that are to terrible for even your cat to live in. Or maybe there are endless dangers and hazards in the home such as mousetraps, electrical wires, or chemicals that will harm the cat. Maybe they already have pets and don’t feed them or give them water, so their bones show and don’t want you to see what will happen to the cat they want to adopt from you.

Other people may not want you imposing your strict standards on them and want you to give them the cat, never to be seen again.

Be on high alert when people don’t want you to see where the cat will live if they adopt it.

#15 – People Unwilling To Pay Even A Small Adoption Fee

The reason for a cat adoption fee is more of a test than a way to recoup the money for veterinarian care. Generally, the low adoption fee will not return the costs associated with several rounds of shots to protect the cat, and any other healthcare involved.

The adoption fee is a test of the applicants finances, and to see if they are serious enough about the animal to commit money when necessary.

If they aren’t willing to pay the adoption fee which may hurt their finances slightly, how can they be trusted to commit greater funds when healthcare, food and other expenses are necessary? Sadly, they likely can not be trusted. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, but rather they may not have the financial strength, or willingness to pay for necessary cat expenses during the cat’s life.

Make the fee low enough to make it affordable, yet show some level of hardship so you know they are serious. This way it’s less likely that it’s just a spur of the moment idea to adopt.

#16 – People Who Have A Criminal Background Check

Always run a background check on prospective cat adopters.

It’s true that people change and deserve forgiveness for past mistakes, including people with a criminal history. The challenge is knowing whether the applicant with a criminal history has changed their course or not. Many of these people want to be loving pet owners.

Obviously violent crimes are big red flags to avoid for adopting a pet to someone, but what about non-violent crimes? Even though non-violent crimes may not be directed at a cat, the reprocussions of a future arrest could possibly result in the cat going to an animal shelter, and eventual euthanization.

Sadly, there is no easy way to know if a person’s past is in their past. If the person causes new crimes in the future, the confiscation of the cat might lead to it’s death.

#17 – People With Drug Or Alcohol Related Dependencies

With deadly drugs, and deadly mistakes while under the influence of excessive alcohol consumption, cats should not be adopted to applicants with additictions to these controlled substances.

Occassional wine or beer is one thing, but utter intoxication from alcohol or drugs can lead to endless hazards for cats in the house. Leaving the stove burner on when passed out, over dosing on heroin and dying, stepping on the cat while severly intoxicated with alchol on the way to the bathroom, sitting on the cat and crushing it after too many drinks.

It’s just not safe to adopt a cat to people with drug or alcohol dependencies. Many people with alcohol or drug addictions are nice people. Regardless of their kind personalities, they are no longer in control when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It can be a large hazard to cats as well. That’s why it’s not safe to adopt a cat to someone with substance dependencies.

#18 – People Who Will Not Allow The Cat To Be Indoor Only

There are many dangers for outdoor cats. These dangers are reflected in studies showing far longer average life spans for indoor cats than outdoor cats. Indoor cats may often live several times as long as outdoor cats.

Beyond the studies, many people put the cat outside if they can’t tolerate specific behaviors, or just get bored with it. Others will only allow the cat inside at certain times. If the applicant does not allow the cat to be an indoor only cat it will face life threatening dangers. While it’s not advisable to let the outdoors, some people will not allow allow cats that prefer to be indoor cats to live inside. Not all animals survive harsh temperatures in the Summer and Winter, and need to be in the climate controlled house.

It’s inhumane to force a cat to live outdoors if it wants in. Please don’t adopt a cat to someone if they will not allow the cat to be indoor if it wishes.

#19 – Renters Who Do Not Have Permission For Pets

If a landlord, homeowner, or condo association does not allow cats or other pets, it’s only a matter of time until the cat is evicted outside, adopted to someone, or euthanized. It may take a short or a long time for the cat to be discovered. Then it’s future and even it’s life is in jeopardy.

Adopting a cat to an applicant who is not allowed to have pets is a terrible idea, and a life threatening recipe for disaster.

#20 – People Who Will Not Agree To Call Or Return Cat If Problems Arise

If an applicant really cares for the cat’s welfare, they will agree to call you if they need to return the cat or adopt it to someone else. It takes little effort to call someone to return a cat. If the person has moved away, the person needs to agree to call you prior to rehoming the cat or giving it to a rescue. Many people have good intentions, but may not know how the factors or red flags involved with adopting a pet to a new owner.

When the applicant calls to return the cat you know it will be safe and well cared for under your watch. Likewise, if they have moved far away and call you if they need to rehome the cat, you have a chance to interviene to find the best home or rescue possible.

Sadly, many people who agree will never call you. Many will even euthanize the cat without a second thought, and will never call you first. That’s part of the risk of rehoming a cat, but unfortunately cats would never be adopted out if this risk was eliminated. There is no way to know if an applicant will call or not if the need should arise, so choose the most loving applicants possible who seem mature, responsible, and not self centered. Ask them to repeat back to you that they will call if the cat needs to be returned or rehomed even if they move far away.

#21 – People Who’s Other Pets Are Not Current With Medical Care

Many nice people just don’t ‘get’ the importance of pet medical needs. Some people are just lazy. There are also people who really only care about theirself and their own personal needs but not about the welfare of the animals under their watch. Other’s simply can’t afford it.

If people don’t understand the urgency, or can’t afford medical shots, immunizations, and neutering or spaying the cat could suffer.

Adopting a cat to people who don’t keep the annual medical maintenance current is endangers the cat to being suseptable to several deadly diseases, and goes against animal welfare ideals.

Applicants will likely treat new cats the same way they treat other pets with regard to providing annual shots, immunizations and other medical care. Please only adopt a cat to people who aren’t behind or who disregard routine medical care for their pets.

#22 – People Who Don’t Agree To Keep Cat For It’s Remaining Life

Too many people treat cats like a toy or a piece of furniture that they use for awhile, then throw away once bored with it. Some people will literally lock the cat in the residence with no food or water when they move, then drive off to their new dwelling leaving the cat to die of dehydration or starvation. They won’t loose a wink of sleep or have even a hint of remorse.

It’s hard to understand why people like this would ever do such a thing, or why they ever wanted to adopt a cat then betray it with a slow terrible death. While this is true, keep in mind that some of the people applying may do this to the cat you are adopting.

Clearly, circumstances could possibly arise where the cat no longer works out, but they must be willing to call you before taking any type of action in such cases.

#23 – People Who Will Declaw The Cat

Many people value their possessions more than cats and other living creatures. Often people want the best of both worlds – having nice things, and also having a cat. This arrangement works out most of the time thankfully, but sometimes it doesn’t. Then the person has to make a decision.

Generally, here are the choices available:
-Live with it, and try to find ways to stop or limit the behavior if possible
-Declaw the cat
-Rehome or surrender the cat to a rescue
-Euthanize the cat

The best option for the cat is for their guardian to live with it. Cats are great creatures, but keep in mind they are animals and not people. Surprisingly, most do not have what humans would consider to be severe behavior problems in the home.

The worst option is to euthanize the cat, have it sent to an abusive home, or an animal rescue that confines the cat in a permanent tight space where it can move so little that it’s rear legs deteriorate and stop working since it doesn’t have enough room. Just because a shelter is a no-kill shelter that doesn’t mean it’s always better then death.

A happier option is that the cat gets rehomed to a happier, more tolerant home that loves it for the rest of it’s life.

Finally, there is the option of declawing the cat. This is an unpopular option as it is similar to cutting the last joint off of each cat’s fingers. Some take this cruel practice to include the rear feet too, leaving the cat unable to scratch itches, or defend it’s self. A real sad situation is when a cat is declawed, especially front and rear paws, then kicked out of the house, making it very difficult to hunt and survive, althouth it happens every day.

Many cat’s have actual psychological problems after the final joints of their fingers are cut off. It’s a horrid practice.

As terrible as declawing may be, in some situations it also saves the cats life. In situations where people own nice material items that they can not tolerate being damaged by cat claws, declawing may save the cat’s life as an alternative to euthanization. Please don’t interpret declawing to be a happy, healthy, fun proceedure that’s no big deal. It’s a very big deal to the cat, and can have permanent damaging consequences to the cat mentally. It’s a terrible thing to do to an animal that a guardian is supposed to be protecting instead of abusing.

Sadly, the cat overpopulation perpetuated by people not spaying and neutering has resulted in unfathomable numbers of cat euthanizations. If the cruel act of declawing was illegal, the number of euthanizations would almost certainly increase. The reason is because cats that are tolerated once declawed would likely otherwise be euthanized.

In situations where people prioritize their depreciable material possessions above the living creatures entrusted under their care, sadly it’s better for such cats to loose their finger tips instead of loosing their lives. With that said, it’s better to go to a good loving home that will not declaw whenever possible.

Please try your hardest to find homes that do not covet their material possessions above the loving creatures under their watch.

#24 – People Who Eat Cats

It may sound very humorous, but there are cultures of the world that eat cats. Make sure that the prospective adopter is not going to eat the cat if adopted.


Cats are sadly completely dependent on a right home being found for them. They have to live with the consequences – not you. They have no say in the decision – only you do. This isn’t a situation where once the cat reaches a certain age they are free to make their own decisions. They are sentenced to a life of love or a life of suffering based on the decisions you make concerning who they are adopted to.

It’s no fairy tale. Hopfully you realize how many cats have perished in a variety of ways as a result of people adopting cats to the wrong people, or under the wrong circumstances. If this scares you, please do your best to not take the quick and easy path to adopting a cat to someone, but rather screen applicants carefully.

Thank you so much for reading this very grave and important post. Please refer back to it and do your best to find a quality loving life-long home for cats you adopt out to others. Their very life depends on your judgement, and these red flags can help you decide the best applicant for rehoming a cat.

Kindest regards, and safe adopting,

-Randy / Animal Weekly