SCOT BELLAVIA: Rehoming A Pet

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To realize that you are not the best owner of your pet is embarrassing and disheartening. But, when the cat and baby are unpredictable around each other, when your apartment is too small, and when your father is allergic, you realize it’s the only solution.

The cat can’t go to a shelter; he’s too old to be appealing to kitten-wishing kids and isn’t likeable enough to endear someone willing to adopt an adult cat. You’ll have to find a good home.

Between pet store employees and our veterinarian, we learned the best way to find a willing family is to join a rehoming Facebook page, a group of folks who have convinced the managers of the page that they have pets’ best interests in mind and can maintain civility.

In our experience this has not always been the case.

A quick google search says that it takes between five and forty positive reviews to outweigh one negative review. My memory of trying to rehome our cat proves this. Among dozens of “likes” and a handful of private messages expressing interest in adopting Finn, the two naysayers are forever fresh on my mind. They are the reason why I would not hold out hope, but do have sympathy for those looking to rehome a pet.

Admittedly, we painted a better picture of Finn than he deserved. We needed him to live somewhere else, so we told ourselves we’d be more honest during the in-person meeting of the potential owners. Still, we were given a lesson in the relentless dungeon that is the comments section of the Internet.

Stacy and Evan (if I remembered their real names, I’d use them) used predictable tactics to prop themselves up while maligning us, the helpless and hopeful pet owners.

Stacy scrolled back two years on my personal page to find the post I made the day we brought Finn home, when he was still Rueh (pronounced ‘rue,’ a name that in hindsight was an obvious harbinger). I was smitten by his kittenhood and he had yet to show us his full capabilities. Stacy repudiated that a change so significant as our bringing home and needing him gone two years later could ever occur.

She spelled out for us how she can raise two children, four dogs, and three cats, because “cats don’t need that much attention.” I saw her point, because every cat has the exact same needs and I knew her two-legged children must be satisfied sharing their mother’s affection with their seven four-legged siblings.

Evan questioned our understanding of commitment as parents to the newest human in our home, since we were so eagerly auctioning off Finn.

At this point, I noticed a presuppositional difference that wouldn’t be ironed out on this Facebook post (they never can be). Stacy and Evan considered pets full-fledged family members. My worldview teaches that people and animals are inherently different. While I do my best to treat animals with respect, our priority rightfully became our baby when he was delivered.

Some well-meaning commenters tried to show Stacy and Evan that we were doing what was best for Finn. We were unwilling to send him to a shelter and were looking for a home that could provide him the greater attention and space he needed. But the conversation devolved, as is wont to happen online, into a discussion about some past member of the Facebook group.

Miraculously, the cat has matured and our toddler has learned what it means to be gentle, more or less. My dad found effective medicine and we’ve found we can trust Finn to return by dinnertime if he’s allowed to roam around the apartment complex.

The stigma that discourages those rehoming is persisted by those who value people below animals or have never been in a situation where they needed to rehome. Rehoming a pet can be necessary, no matter what the naysayers say.

– Scot Bellavia