Be a Confident Matchmaker
A Potential Adopter: Great! You’ve found an interested party. When someone responds to your flyer, you have an opportunity to interview him or her. Do an initial interview over the phone before meeting in person. By doing so, you can eliminate unsuitable potential adopters early on.
In-Person Meeting: Use caution when you consider meeting unknown individuals. Meet in a public place (coffee shops are great) and ask questions to screen potential adopters (of course you would not bring your cat with you). Ask to see a valid form of ID (driver’s license is best) and record the license number.
Adoption Fee: You may also consider asking for a small adoption fee ($20 to $30) which should not deter good families, yet may discourage unscrupulous individuals. If you’d like, you can donate the adoption fee to a local animal shelter.
Trust your gut! Ask questions to ensure they meet the qualifications you seek in a new owner. Doing so will ensure that your cat’s well-being will be met in his/her new home. If you have any concerns and feel uncomfortable about discussing them, let them know you are also considering other people and will get back to them. Don’t be afraid to say no to someone for the sake of your cat’s well-being!
Interview Your Candidates (sample questions)
- Is the pet for you or someone else? If the pet is for someone else, you should speak directly to that person. A gift of a live animal for another person may be fine, but warrants additional questions. Has this person expressed interest in having a cat? What about your cat makes it a good fit for the person? Is the person able and willing to financially and physically care for the cat? If the cat is for a child, see how interested the adults in the family are in helping the child to care for the cat. The cat needs to be seen as a family pet, not exclusively the child’s. Determine if the parents are willing to take on the responsibility for the day-to-day care of the cat for the rest of its life. Children can be involved in the cat’s care, but the adults should be equally interested in having the cat become an integral member of the family.
- Will the cat be an indoor only or indoor/outdoor pet? Cats that go inside and outside don’t live as long as those who are “indoor only cats”. For their safety, cats should not live outdoors 100% of the time. They must be kept indoors from sunset to sunrise. Cats with white fur on their faces and pink noses are very prone to sun damage and cancer. They must be indoor only cats. Risks to outdoor cats include: disease, traffic accidents, attacks by dogs, accidental or deliberate poisonings, and getting lost or stolen.
- Do you have any pets right now in your household, or who visit your home? This is an important question to ask. Responses can be very revealing about the person’s level of interest and responsibility. Allow this part of the conversation to fully run its course. – letting people talk allows them the opportunity to give you information freely. You might start by saying, “Do you have other pets at home? What do you have? How do they get along?”. From these answers, you can determine whether the cat you are placing will fit into this household. If you are trying to place a cat who hates other cats, and they have cats, this is obviously not a good match. If they have a dog, ask if the dog has lived with cats before and how they got along.
- Have you had cats/pets before? If so, what has happened to them? If they do not have any now, ask if they have ever had a cat or other pets, and ask where they are now. You might start to see a pattern. If they say, “Oh, my last three cats were run over/got out.” You are not looking at a responsible owner. One negative incident in the past would not immediately rule that person out. Accidents can happen to even the most caring people. On the other hand, they might tell you of the pets they had until they died at a ripe old age and how they cared for them throughout their life, to the very end. This will tell you that this is a person who is willing to make the commitment to an animal for its whole life. You can even ask to see photos of previous pets. Most animal-lovers have a plethora to share!
- What would you do if the pet got sick? This is a rather easy question to answer, but is an important question to ask nonetheless. If you get any answer other than “I’d take him to the veterinarian”, you may need to ask follow-up questions or disqualify them.
- Do you have children? If so, what are their ages? Children can be either a blessing or a curse to a pet! Small children often do not know how to differentiate between a live animal and a stuffed one. Even the most vigilant parent can’t watch the child all the time. This will be your own judgment call considering the cat you are placing. An adult cat which is used to being around small children could make a wonderful family pet. A young active cat may greatly enjoy the activity of an active family. If the cat you are placing does not like loud noises or has had any kind of biting or nipping incident around children, it may be best to not place the cat in a home with children. If the cat must be an indoor only cat it may be difficult for the family to make sure doors are closed properly so the cat will not get outside. The prospective owner needs to be aware of the history of the animal, as even an adult-only home may receive visits from grandchildren, children of friends, or neighborhood children.
- How many hours would the cat be alone during the day? The number of hours that an animal will be alone during the day needs to be taken into account. All cats and very active cats can get lonely and even destructive! Many adoptions do not work out for this reason. Looking for stimulation and play a lonely and under stimulated cat may knock over and break household items, tear up carpets and curtains, knock over water and food bowls, etc. The need to be aware of this, to create a stimulating environment in the home with toys, cat scratchers, window perches, etc, and to be encouraged to make provisions for while the family is away at work or school is important. Perhaps a neighbor could spend some time with the animal during the day until no longer needed.
- Do you own your own home or are you renting? Does your lease allow pets? If a person is renting, it is their responsibility to make sure their lease allows them to have a cat, and, if a pet deposit is required, that it has been paid before your cat moves in.
- Would you consider declawing a cat? Declawing a cat is not humane. Ask them to agree to not declaw. Most people just need to be informed about correct height and placement of a scratching post (as tall as the cat when fully extended and in places where the cat likes to be). Clipping the claws regularly and providing scratchers and toys for play and stimulation can decrease furniture damage. Most people are unaware of the pain and suffering involved with the declawing procedure. ASAP can provide an informational flyer on this topic if you would like.
When you find an individual or family who meets your and your cat’s needs, ask for contact information so you will be able to follow-up on how your cat is doing in their new home. Ask the adoptive family to let you know how things are going and to call you with questions or problems. If your cat is microchipped, update microchip details with the microchip company.
If it takes longer than expected and/or you need to surrender your cat
Don’t become discouraged and never abandon your cat. Abandonment is cruel, and dangerous for your cat. It is also against the law. If you are still unable to keep your cat and find you are not able to re-home him/her, please contact your local shelters regarding relinquishment.
If you are a resident of Santa Barbara County or have adopted your cat from ASAP, please call us at (805) 683-3368 for more information or to schedule an appointment to relinquish your cat to ASAP.
Thank you for being a responsible parent and following these steps to help rehome your loved one.