Rehoming a rescued cat or kitten in Japan

 Susan Roberts's avatar

Susan Roberts

I'm an educator, traveler, vegan, and animal welfare enthusiast. I'm originally from America, but have been living in Japan for over 20 years.

See a stray cat or kitten in need and want to help? Doing the kind thing offers a very rewarding experience, and is usually much easier than you might think. Since you may well be this cat or kitten’s only chance, this is a very worthy undertaking. Though it takes a bit of effort and patience, we’ve seen many expats and travelers successfully find excellent homes for kittens and cats that they have rescued in Japan. If you’ve found a kitty in need, here are some general tips and cautions on finding their forever home!

First, post the cat's story with a picture on the Japan Cat Network facebook group and ask members to share it. We've helped to place quite a number of cats this way.

Spread the word amongst colleagues and friends--sometimes people are actually hoping to adopt but may not have mentioned it to you, or they may know someone looking to adopt a new pet.

Make and get permission to put up attractive posters at school, work, and local veterinary clinics. Use free software to tell the story. You can download software like Comic Life or create online with sites like Poster My Wall.

Post a classified ad in any English online magazine from an area to which you might be willing to transport the cat. Here are a few:


Notice Board

Kansai Scene

Kansai Flea Market

Kyoto Guide


If you can find a friend or colleague who can help with Japanese language (or if you are able) there are a few good pet re-homing websites you could use:

Pet Home

Satoya Boshu

Neko Jirushi

Cautions and tips:

1. In cases of orphaned kittens or injured cats, pick up as soon as possible (you might only have one chance), and transport safely. Do not attempt to carry in your arms or a cardboard box for any distance, as a cat or kitten can become frightened and leap away suddenly, putting them in further danger and/or making them difficult to retrieve.

2. When finding venues to post ads, avoid Craigslist and/or primarily shopping pages...these don't tend to be safe areas for finding good homes. Also, posts on these venues tend to offend animal lovers, who feel sad seeing pets seemingly reduced to commodities. Never make posts advertising “Free” pets anywhere--this definitely attracts the wrong kind of people.

3. Schedule a Skype interview with potential adopters, in order to speak face to face. For ideas, regarding questions to ask potential adopters, please see the JCN questionnaire. Be absolutely sure to go to the homes of adopters, or at least have a representative visit. There are people who gather kittens and cats for very bad reasons here, as in every country. If a potential adopter refuses to allow a home visit or suggests some other meeting place, this is not a safe adopter. Don’t be bullied by someone who suggests that a visit is an invasion of privacy or that unreasonable demands like this mean you’ll never find a home (a very common tactic used by those with bad intentions). We have real experience in sad cases, so please take our word for it, and be sure that you visit the home.

4. In the case of expat adoptions, make very sure that the adoptive family plans to take the cat back to their home country. Many people just plan to hand their pets off at the end of their stay in Japan, and this does not always go well, especially for adult cats.

5. Never hand cats/kittens over to any shelter or organization without actually visiting the place the animals will be staying (not just checking photos). This is vital, since shelters in Japan are very limited, so are nearly all running at or over capacity. Many shelters may have good intentions but are severely overcrowded and under supported, resulting in very sad living conditions (or worse).

6. Not everyone responding on the JCN facebook group is necessarily someone that we would recommend caring for cats. They may have even been refused previously in our own adoption application process. We don't screen people who join or like our facebook group or page, so be sure to follow the regular screening procedures that you would use for any other applicant.

7. Help ensure that the kitten or cat is spayed and neutered by getting this done at an early spay/neuter clinic option yourself, and charging the adopters for the procedure. Or, charge a deposit that can be returned after the adopter gets the procedure done at a clinic near their home. You can usually find recommendations for low cost spay/neuter options in your area.

8. Get the kitten or cat vaccinated as soon as possible, while waiting to rehome, in order to help protect from serious disease. Vaccinations take at least a week to become effective, and in the meantime there is reduced immunity. In order to be ready for the possibility of transfer to a multi-cat situation, it’s best to start preparing right away. It's a good idea to have adopters pay a medical fee, and to at least cover the first vaccination cost, as this shows that they are interested in providing good ongoing medical care. Keep a new rescue completely separate from your own pets, and keep your pets up to date on their vaccines.

For more info, check out Animal Rescue Guide's articles about expat and traveler animal rescue or orphan kitten rescue.

Groups mentioned in the article

Checkout Japan Cat Network's page and support their amazing work