• If you’re not able to keep him, you need to find the right home for your kitten.

    She eats solid food, uses the litter box consistently, and everyday she’s entrenching herself deeper in your heart and your life. But, for whatever reason you cannot take in another pet. The ideal home would be a close friend who wants to grow the family by one kitten. If that isn’t possible, then you have to investigate other avenues.

    Before you put a “Free to good home” ad in the local newspaper or on Craigslist.com or hand her over to a stranger in a parking lot, look at other options. After all, you don’t want to just unload her. You want to find the best and happiest home possible. Contact your local pet supply store and ask for a list of rescue groups or go to Petfinder to find shelters in your area.

    Be forewarned: during kitten season, shelters are drowning in kittens. No-kill facilities are usually full. If you must leave your baby at a shelter that euthanizes, you must face the unfortunate possibility that she may be put to sleep for lack of room. Always ask about the shelter’s euthanasia policy.

    Talk to smaller area rescue groups. They have no kennel facility; volunteers foster animals in their homes. On specific days the foster family brings their kitten to a pet warehouse, shopping mall and other public site to make them available for adoption. These groups usually have stringent adoption policies requiring the animals to live inside as well as be spayed and neutered. Most of these organizations don’t euthanize unless the kitten has been badly injured or is sick. As with no-kill shelters, foster homes are usually full. Smaller rescues may accept your kitten into the program if you agree to foster her in your home until she’s adopted.

    Ask the shelter or facility:

    • Do they euthanize animals? Under what conditions?
    • Do they screen potential adopters or do they adopt to whomever comes into the shelter?
    • If they can’t help you, can they recommend another no-kill organization?

    If you have to find a family on your own, you’ll have to get the word out and then, ask a lot of questions. Put signs up in places where animal people go: vet clinics, pet stores, grooming salons and animal shelters. You can also put a notice up at grocery stores, fitness centers and churches. The more places you post your kitten, the more people you’ll have to screen.

    Before making your kitten available, have it spayed or neutered. You can get a low-cost or no-cost procedure through many humane societies or animal shelters. This assures that she won’t be having unwanted litters later. When you find her a forever home, ask the adopter to compensate you for at least part of the money you spent. If someone pays something for their new pet, there will be a stronger commitment to the kitten.

    Also, not everyone who wants your kitten desires a lifetime companion. People answer “free to good home” ads for all kinds of illicit reasons: free snake food, dog fighting bait, for sale to laboratory as test subjects. If you really want to give your kitten away, word the ad, “Free to the right home” and screen, screen, screen. Ask a lot of questions. Follow your instinct. You are not obligated to hand over your kitten just because someone shows interest. If the person is vague or evasive about where they live or other pets they’ve owned, look out. Ask:

    • How many pet do you have? What happened to ones you don’t have any longer?
    • Who’s your vet? Call the vet and verify the info you’ve been given.
    • Does your landlord permit pets?

    Draw up a contract. Ask for a nominal adoption fee. Ask to see identification and get a phone number. Legitimate adopters shouldn’t mind your caution. Assure them you want to hear from them.

    When the time comes, kiss your baby and send her off to a wonderful new life she wouldn’t have had without you. Now that you know the ropes, it’s a sure bet another needy kitten will enter your life.

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    Finding the right forever home requires some light research.