understanding cat surrender

Understanding Cat Surrenders

Cat surrender is never taken lightly, yet it is a reality many cats face when relationships shatter, or life circumstances change. 

Did you know that each year, around 6.5 million animals enter shelters? It’s a staggering number. Unfortunately, only about 3.2 million of them find new homes.  

In this article, I discuss the distressing issue of cat surrenders resulting from different reasons, including broken relationships and financial limitations.

4 Common Reasons for Cat Surrender

silver tabby cat on brown cardboard box, cat surrender
Consider your ability to commit to a pet and seek help or resources before surrendering an animal.

In addition to difficulties caused by damaged relationships, there are other reasons why people may choose to give up their cats. See some of the reasons below.


Changes in living situations, such as moving to a new home that doesn’t allow pets or entering a rental with strict pet policies, can lead to owners leaving their cats in shelters.

Behavioral Challenges

Cats displaying behavioral problems, like aggression, excessive marking, or litter box issues, can create stress and frustration for owners. When these challenges become overwhelming, some owners surrender their cats to shelters.

Financial Strain from Vet Bills

Cats can require expensive medical treatments, surgeries, or ongoing veterinary care due to illnesses or chronic conditions.

The financial burden of these costs can become unsustainable for some owners, leading them to surrender their cats to shelters in the hope of finding better adopters.

Changes in Life Circumstances

Significant life events such as divorce, job loss, illness, or the arrival of a new baby can disrupt an owner’s ability to care for their cat. Owners feel they can no longer provide adequate attention and care as priorities shift.

Tips for Handling Cat Surrenders with Compassion

If you need to surrender your cat, feeling overwhelmed is okay. Below is some guidance on how to handle cat surrenders with compassion.

  • Prioritize Your Cat: Their well-being is vital. Explore temporary solutions or shared custody if possible.
  • Open Communication: If you’re parting with a partner, communicate openly about your cat’s needs and find common ground.
  • Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to seek advice from veterinarians, pet behaviorists, or mediators.

Raising Awareness

Compassion goes a long way. If you meet someone facing this tough choice, offer understanding and support. Awareness of these challenges is so important to find solutions.

Together, We Can Make a Difference

Cat surrenders are complex and emotional situations. By learning about the reasons behind them and providing resources, we can work together to reduce their occurrence. 

Whether helping friends, supporting local shelters, or advocating for awareness, your actions matter. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do with an animal I can’t take care of?

If you are in a situation where you can’t care for your pet, the most important thing is to prioritize their well-being. Contact local animal shelters or rescue organizations. They’re there to help. They might offer advice, temporary solutions, or even assist in finding a new loving home for your cat. Remember, asking for help is a sign of responsibility and care.

What does it mean when a pet is surrendered?

Surrendering a pet means you’re making a tough decision to give up your cat to a shelter or rescue organization. It’s never easy and often done with a heavy heart and many emotions. People surrender pets for various reasons, like changes in life circumstances or inability to provide the care they deserve. Shelters do their best to find new homes for surrendered pets, allowing them to start a new chapter.

How do I stop pet neglect?

Stop pet neglect by educating yourself about your pet’s needs. Prioritize routine care like vet check-ups and grooming, spend quality time with them, offer enrichment through toys and mental stimulation, and always plan for their lifelong care before bringing them into your life.