Finding a good home
Every cat lover at some time or another finds himself in the position of having to find a home for a cat or kitten. Let's face it...we are "marked". Those little orphans know where we live and as iron is attracted to a magnet, they find us. Our soft hearts won't allow us to ignore them, so what do we do? If you have been a cat lover for awhile, you probably already have your quota of furry family members. "A good home" is what we want for the little waif, but how do we find one?
First of all, get the word out. If the cat is a stray, your first responsibility is to try to find the owner. Flyers passed out to neighbors, ads in the newspaper, and "word-of-mouth" may serve to alert the owners to the whereabouts of their lost pet. While some description of the characteristics of the cat will be necessary for advertising purposes, leave some of the identifying features of the cat for the caller to supply.
For example, the owner of the cat should know that Kitty has four, not two, white socks, a black dot on his nose, a striped tail. It's important to keep the cat from the hands of those who just want a "free" pet. They may not have the best intentions for the animal and they may be very good actors, so beware! If you have determined that the original home cannot be found, then it is time to look for a new permanent home for Kitty.
If friends and family are already supplied with cats, a little advertising may be necessary. Remember, never mention "free" in the ad--it is always advisable to request some reasonable fee. The next step is the telephone screening. Don't skip this very important procedure, as it is much easier to tell a prospective adopter that you do not feel that the cat would do well in his home, over the phone, than it is to say this to his face while he is sitting in your living room. (You can word your feelings more delicately, like "I just don't think this is the right cat for you".)
Here are some good questions to ask to help you determine the type of home the caller would provide for the cat:
1. "Have you had cats before?" "What happened to them?" The answer to these questions can tell you a lot about this prospective home and the care they intend to give the new pet.
2. "Do you rent or own your home?" If the answer is "rent", then get an official "okay" from the landlord.
3. "Do you have children?" "What are their ages?" If you are looking for a home for a young kitten, and the family has children under five years of age, this may not be the best placement. Some adult cats do not do well with children either. Make sure that this is not to be just a toy for the children, but a family member whose welfare will be safe-guarded by the adults in the family.
4. "Do you intend to have the cat spayed/neutered?" You may prefer to have the cat altered before you look for a new home. If not, make sure that you get a definite "yes, of course," to this question. Even better, get it in writing.
5. "Do you plan to declaw the cat?" If you are against declawing, you can use this as an opportunity to educate. Many cat adopters will opt to keep the nails on the cat if they are told what the operation involves and how some cats have been known to exhibit adverse temperament and behavior changes after this operation. If possible, a sturdy, sisal-covered scratching post should go to the new home with the cat.
6. "Do you intend to let the cat go outside?" The "correct" answer depends on how you feel about this issue and the local ordinances. You know the cat and the community, it is up to you to decide what is in the best interests of the cat. Most animal shelters that adopt to people who live in residential areas insist that their felines go to "inside-only" homes.
Be friendly and informative with potential adopters, but be persistent. Ask to see a driver's license. Check references, including the person's veterinarian. You may decide to use a written adoption contract similar to the ones used by humane societies. If so, be sure to give one copy with your name and telephone number on it to the adopter to take home and keep a signed copy for your files.
You'll know that it's all worth the effort when you see the little orphan go home with his happy, caring family. Now don't forget the final, and very important, step of calling to check with the family a few days later, and again in a few weeks, to see how Kitty is adjusting.
|© 2023, Chris Kouwenhoven|