What Happens to Free Kittens?

Free to Good Home kittens often do not get good homes. Read more about what often happens to these poor animals, and why you should never give away Kittens as "Free to Good Home".

Very few free kittens get good permanent homes. Some do, but many don’t.

Consider the fact that it costs more to take a free kitten to a vet for worming, vaccination, check up, etc, than it usually costs to adopt one from a shelter, so why would anyone take a free kitten? Well maybe they are not interested in getting it vaccinated and so forth, as such we cannot consider them good homes. Worms and earmites can go undetected for ages, causing pain and suffering in a pet.

People who get free kittens from strangers often do so because they know the people will not do checks to see if the new owner is going to be good, or not. Some of these people then take kittens into apartments where they are not allowed pets. Frequently they are caught and the kittens must be surrendered or the tenant faces eviction.

Free kittens are a non-financial commitment, if one goes missing, and is taken to the city pound, the owner must pay a fine to recover it. Or, they can simply go get another free kitten and leave the first one to its’ fate.

image by author

In most areas it is completely legal for somebody to accept free kittens, and kill them, or sell them to a research lab. Since the kittens are now owned by the second person, that person is their legal owner and if they want to kill them, as long as it is done humanely, they can. Yup, in some cases people kill kittens and use them as snake food, much in the way they would kill guinea pigs for the same purpose. To be fair most snake owners no longer feed live food, its too risky to the snake. As mentioned, it is not uncommon for free kittens,or any free pet, to be sold to research facilities where they exist.

People do horrid things to free kittens. People use them to bait illegal fighting dogs to learn to kill. This is entirely illegal but does happen. Nobody is going to come to your house and tell you they are going to do this with the kitten, they will most certainly show up with all intentions of fooling you to thinking they are a good respectable owner. They might even bring their children.

Many studies have indicated that most serial killers started out torturing and killing free kittens and other “Free to Good Home” pets. According to one site, ALL serial killers started out on pets.  I was disgusted when I tried to search out some links to back this fact up, you can easily find your own proof on this if you don’t believe it. It is so well known that video games about serial killers often use jokes saying that you must kill so many kittens in order to be considered a real serial killer.

Believe it or not, but one of the worst things that happens to “free to good home” kittens is that people do not spay or neuter them, rather they allow them to breed. You might not see this as a mean or terrible thing, but you may not have worked at a facility that is forced to euthanize cats and kittens every week because of an over abundance of them. Every kitten that finds a home, means one other did not. Every cat that is allowed to breed (without having homes lined up for kittens in advance of breeding) contributes to the overpopulation of unwanted pets, thus they guarantee more suffering.

What should I do with my kittens?

The best thing is to prevent unwanted litters to begin with by spaying your cat, or by keeping her indoors only, away from any males, until she can be spayed. Actual free kittens should only go to people you know, with the agreement that if they cannot keep them for what ever reason, they return them to you.

Screen potential new owners, have them show identification, have them sign a contract, phone their landlord if they have one, to make sure they are allow pets.  Ask if you can do a home approval.

Get your kittens vaccinated then charge the cost of the vaccination, if people were going to get the kitten vaccinated anyhow, this cost will be trivial. You must have the vaccination records to give to the new owner to prove you actually did have the kittens vaccinated.

Take the kittens and surrender them to your local shelter, they will screen potential new owners to ensure the kittens get good homes. Of course they cannot guarantee every kitten finds a good home, but they do a much better job than the general public and if they are forced to euthanize a kitten, at least you know it is done humanely and because of need, not because of cruelty or ignorance.

The criteria for being a good home are: 

  • A home that spays or neuters (with the exception of purebred cats that attend shows to prove their worth as breeding animals).
  • Provides regular medical care and attention. 
  • Provides regular food, shelter, and water, and companionship. 
  • Keeps no more cats than they can care for and within legal guidelines for the area. 

In some areas it is estimated that fewer than 20% of “Free to Good Home” kittens actually get good homes.  Keep in mind.. no good home would have allowed their cats to breed in the first place without having secured homes for all the kittens.

Other Cat Links

How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Pet

Toxoplasmosis, a Misunderstanding that Kills Cats

Guide for Cat Owners

Should I Breed My Cats?

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User Comments
  1. Will Gray

    On February 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Thanks so much! I ahve a new litter of kittens I will try to find homes for when they are ready.

  2. Darla Smith

    On February 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

    It’s so sad and terrible what people will do to innocent animals.

  3. Chambo

    On February 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Very eye opening article. Sad.


  4. miss cornelia

    On February 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I can’t understand anyone who can torture a defenseless animal. Especially one as cute and cuddly as a kitten. Even though I don’t have a cat or kittens I found this article to be an interesting read.

  5. Clay Hurtubise

    On February 2, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Oh, I almost couldn’t finish… just the thought of being cruel to a kitten.
    Good piece.

  6. Ruby Hawk

    On February 2, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Not a good situation for the free kittens but I have to wonder if that happens often, at least in my area.I know folks who have too many kittens give them away to friends and neighbors and take them to pet stores where they are adopted out.My grandaughter took a kitten from our apartment complex last year and she loves it dearly. It’s sad to think any kitten would be mistreated.

  7. B Nelson

    On February 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I worked for 5 years in an animal shelter MOST of the cats who came in were under 1 year old… they were brought in by people who said they found them, since nobody came to claim them we can assume they were basically left by the owners, who then went to get another “free kitten”..
    I personally knew of 1 family who regularly used free kittens as snake food – under the law this is legal so dispite phone calls against this family – the shelter could do nothing to stop it, and they never had problems getting free kittens when they needed them for snake food. I do home the torture situations purely out of cruelty were less common.

  8. Brenda Nelson

    On February 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    please to anyone who has cats.. SPAY or NEUTER THEM!!!

    because (as I have said) even IF your kitten finds a good home – it means some other kitten did not. More kittens are born yearly than their are homes for.

  9. jhenz

    On February 2, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    in our area, there are a lot of stray kittens… every corner you can hear their meow. it’s either they’re abandoned by their mother or by their owner. after some time, i see them all grown up, looking tough… scaring and eating scavenge rats. in a way, they helped the community.

    no matter how much we love them, we cannot simply take all of them in our care. they’re like humans in way, they know how to cope and adjust with their environment no matter how tough it is.

  10. nutuba

    On February 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Wow, this was eye opening and disturbing. This is a powerful article, well written and interesting. Great job!

  11. PR Mace

    On February 3, 2009 at 12:04 am

    It is a crime what people do to animals. It breaks my heart. I want to save them all. Thank you for an excellent article.

  12. Neverty Agisti,Cyberneverty,and so on

    On February 4, 2009 at 9:44 am

    A cat is beloved pet of my prophet, Muhammad SAW. So, we must love that pet.


    On February 5, 2009 at 10:48 pm


  14. eddiego65

    On February 19, 2009 at 9:08 am

    A truly eye-opening article. It’s really sad to hear of such cruel treatment toward animals.

  15. Phatcat

    On June 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Nice article, but where is the evidence to back it all up?

    “It is so well known that video games about serial killers often use jokes saying that you must kill so many kittens in order to be considered a real serial killer.”

    Where is the heck did you get this information from? I’ve been developing gaming software and played videogames for YEARS, and have never heard reference to that. While I admire that you were able to write such an eye opening article, your lack of any links to back it up, or lack of references causes you to lose credibility.

  16. Brenda Nelson

    On June 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    to Phatcat.

    In regards to the quote, I found it when I was looking up stats on serial killers admissions to starting out by taking free pets out of the newspapers and killing them. I do not recall where exactly I saw that line – or perhaps it was on a television show, or might even be a regional thing.

    It was in NO way a slant on the video gaming industry.

    A person can EASILY search “Kittens, Serial, Killers” and will come up with LOADS of hits whereby serial killers admitted they first killed free kittens before moving on to bigger things like people.
    Many tv shows have covered this as well.
    Basically there are so many links on this, a person can easily find them without my having to reference any – as this link is not specific about them, and glorifying them, as it is about trying to save some kittens.

  17. sydney

    On June 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    i love those kind of cats but i cant have one because e already have 2 cats by

  18. Sammy

    On June 28, 2009 at 10:48 am

    that was a really good article thanks alot

  19. guest

    On October 23, 2009 at 1:57 am

    I\\\’ve heard about this law about it\\\’s legal to kill your pet if you do it humanely. About this case in Canada.


    What about stray cats, too? But is this just a canadian law, or is it pretty much international, in all countries?

    Heck, even if it you do it inhumanely, you\\\’ll probably only get a slap on the wrist, certainly nothing like the penalty killing a person would carry.

  20. Brenda Nelson

    On October 23, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    to guest(above)
    in most areas it is legal to kill your pet if you do it humanely, you are correct.
    in the USA free kittens are often taken, strangled, and used as snake food.
    you CANNOT take a “stray” cat and kill it, because you are NOT the owner, but if somebody gives you a FREE kitten or you buy one, then its yours. You cannot legally make it suffer though. So the people who take them to use to train fighting dogs to kill are breaking the law.

  21. MartineP

    On February 25, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Sad but true. Here in Belgium it is become illegal to trade cats or dogs without a license. Only breeders with a permit can trade them, but the effect is worse. Now the market of free kittens has become clandestine and if you are a good pet owner, there are no free pets. You may get them for free, but the costs start later.

  22. Rex

    On October 6, 2010 at 9:13 am

    No citations in this article whatsoever, which is odd because the intro to the article prepares us for “hard facts.” Instead, there’s a lot of bizarre speculation. The vast majority of people who accept free kittens probably want a kitten as a pet and have no intention to abandon the cat, torture the cat, sell it to a research lab, or use it for food. To argue otherwise, as this article does, should bear the weight of facts, as it’s essentially slandering the millions of people who have either accepted or offered free kittens. I’m willing to be convinced, but the claims here are absurd.

  23. Brenda Nelson

    On October 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    to Rex. Wikipedia itself has a page where serial killers stated they started on “free to good home pets”. I will try to find it and add it to the article.

    its not speculation. I worked at a shelter and we often had calls where – for example we knew the family that fed the kittens to snakes, but as no laws were broken – no crime committed.. again the same law covers those who take kittens and resell them

    but for the most part free kittens are not as well looked after as one somebody paid for – there is less commitment – and often they are not spayed/neutered or vaccinated, but then again the home that gave them away – wasn’t a good home either or the parents would not have got pregnant in the first place without a list of people willing to take kittens ahead of time – knowing that millions are destroyed in shelters every year.

  24. ghbrtea

    On November 30, 2010 at 1:06 am

    I thought your article was interesting, but I don’t think only purebred animals should be allowed to breed. We keep barn cats to catch the mice and keep other critters away at night, and they do a fine job. Both of our cats have had litters of kittens, and all of them were either adopted to families of the people who ride horses at the barn, or we have kept them as barn cats. Barn cats are sturdy, hardworking, and surprisingly easy to house- and litter-train when we decide to bring one home, compared to the ones from the adoption agency. Also we keep them up to date on shots and deworming, along with the horses.

  25. Brenda Nelson

    On November 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    to ghbrtea
    I have barn cats too, all are fixed. i would NEVER allow them to breed – shelters are FULL of animals that will be put down, anyone looking for a pet can to go a shelter.

    you DID NOT adopt them out – you gave them away – adopting is ONLY from shelters and involves contracts

    every kitten you gave away means another kitten in a shelter is put to death.

  26. Danny Hirtler

    On December 25, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Lol I rescued a cat from an animal shelter. It was a rather interesting experience http://therealowner.com/humor/stoner-kitten/

  27. Catowner

    On January 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    My 8-year old was a free-to-good-home kitten. We must have spent thousands of dollars on his vet bills over the past 8 years and we give him the best cat food (grain-free wet) and care we can. Don’t assume that everyone who gets a free kitten is/will be a horrible cat owner (and person). The other cats I’ve gotten since then were from a rescue group and animal shelter respectively and in both cases, I still had to pay for the spay/neuter, shots, and deworming myself. If I get another cat in the future, whether it be a rescue or a free-to-good-home kitten, I will take care of it to the best of my ability.

  28. Trevor Gowe

    On April 9, 2012 at 1:16 am

    “It is so well known that video games about serial killers often use jokes saying that you must kill so many kittens in order to be considered a real serial killer.”

    Who writes this crap? How many video games are there about serial killers who often have to kill kittens? Has the author ever even played a video game?

    And where in the hell do you people live that’s is legal to feed kittens to snakes?

  29. Brenda Nelson

    On April 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Trevor. As long as the kittens are killed humanely, in most places of Canada and the USA it is perfectly legal to feed them as snake food. It is viewed no different as feeding guinea pigs. People would not feed live kittens anyhow because of the claws risking injury to the snake.

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