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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I have been volunteering at our local shelter. I have been working with the cats, socializing them, grooming them, petting them and overall trying to spoil them.

The new shelter manager is wonderful and she's implemented a lot of new ways and ideas into the shelter already. She approached me today about giving me an important task to do.

Recently, there have been a number of people coming and adopting a cat (or two) and returning them within the 20 day trial period. There has also been a string of cats being adopted and being abused and returned, or being abused and dying from our shelter.

As a result, the new shelter manager wants to have me interview and screen prospective cat owners/adopters. Her reasoning is because I have been telling her about all the things I have learned from this forum, I have been pushing for them to get better food for the cats at the shelter and not just rely on donations of food. Also my patience working with Isis and what a great success story she has turned out to be has caused her to want to put me in charge of this. She said I am one of the few who truly cares about the health and welfare of the cats there. Her last statement was that she liked my bluntness and the fact that she thinks I would tell it like it is and not allow some dolt to adopt a cat.

I really want to do it, I am just worried about them trusting me with a living, breathing animal's life. I want to make sure the cats are being adopted by loving people who have the cat's best interest at heart. I am just hoping that I can handle it if I allow someone to adopt a cat and something horrible happens to the cat (god forbid.) :(

I told her my worries and she said that is the exact reason she wants me to do it. She said she is going to set up adoptions for the two days that I am at the shelter. She also wants me to come up with interview questions to ask prospective owners. This is where I need some help. Aside from the usual paperwork people have to fill out at the shelter (name and address, rental information or owner information, where the cat will stay, who will take care of the cat etc)., I need to ask them some questions to get a feel for them.

I have to hand in the list of questions for the shelter manage to approve them by Saturday. I have a list of questions I thought up that I will post here, but if you have suggestions, PLEASE share. I would love anyone's input on this!

Questions for prospective cat owners:

1. Why do you want this animal?
2. What kind of cat are you looking for? (Temperament, color, age, sex, etc)
3. Is there anything that is not desirable to you in a cat? (meaning if someone says they don't like a cat that meows at all, that would probably disqualify them from getting a cat from us period. Kind of asking this question to weed out the crazies).
4. Do you have a vet? May I call them for a reference?
5. Do you have other pets? What are they? How do you plan to integrate a cat into your household?
6. How do you plan to take care of your cat? Exercise? Food? Vet bills?
7. If you find after the 20 day trial period that the cat is not fitting in with your household, how do you plan to rectify the situation?

I will also ask them if they have any questions for me.

Are there other questions I should ask?

Thanks all!
 

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Um, are you saying there are no current screening/questionnaire forms???!!!! They've just been handing the cats over to whoever pays??

You can't possibly do any worse than the current situation, and I'm sure you'll do much better.

Here's the application I filled out:

1. Do you live in a: House? Apartment? Condo? Other:__________
2. How long have you lived there?
If less than 2 years, please give previous address___________________________________
3. Do you? Rent? Own?
4. If yes do you have your landlord’s permission to have a cat/dog? N/A
5. May we contact your landlord?
Name:_________________________________ Phone #:______________
Do you have a balcony?
6. Do you have a veterinarian? Name:
7. Are you willing to provide adequate medical care if this cat should become sick/injured?
8. Healthy cats require annual vaccinations and routine medical care. What would you estimate the cost to be per year?
9. Cats can live longer than 15 years and their care may amount to over $400.00 per year. Are you prepared to accept this kind of responsibility for his/her entire life?
10. Would you object to an inspection of your home by an ARRF representative?
11. Is anyone in the household allergic to animals?
12. Have you ever owned a cat or dog before? If yes, what happened to them? (If deceased please state cause of death and how long ago?
13. Do you currently own any animals? Number of Cats
14. Have they all been spayed/neutered?
15. If you have a dog, is it licensed?
16. When was your dog last vaccinated? ___________ Where? _______________________________
17. Do you plan to declaw this cat?
18. Where do you plan to keep the litter box?
19. Cats have been known to claw furniture, carpet and drapes, dig in potted plants, etc. How do you plan to deal with these potential problems?
20. Where will the cat stay once it’s home with you?
21. Do you have children at home?
22. Who will be responsible for feeding, grooming and training your new pet?
23. How soon after the cat arrives home will it be left alone?
24. Where will the cat be kept?
25. Do you have screens on all of your windows?
26. How often do you travel?
27. How do you plan to provide for the cat when you are out of town?
28. What will happen to the cat if you move?
29. Under what circumstances would you not keep this cat?
30. Why do you want a cat?
31. If applicable, why do you want a kitten?________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
32. Why have you chosen this cat?
33. How did you learn about this cat? Union Tribune___ NCT___800-Save-a-Pet.org___ Petfinder.com___ Adoption Event___ Other
34. Do you have questions or comments? Include them here: ___________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
 

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The vet reference is important. It should be mandatory, unless this is their first pet ever. Also have the person provide at least three references from people who are not relatives.

I would be wary of adopting cats out to people with toddlers and really young children - unless their references were stellar.

It's a big responsibility.
 

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I agree about the vet reference, however, please let the people filling out the application know that if it's their first pet, it's okay if they don't already have one. When I was volunteering at the Petsmart cattery, it was the one question that made people think they wouldn't be approved.

I don't think references are really necessary, especially more than one. Several of the questions I think are either intrusive or over the top.

Plus, most shelters don't have the time or resources to check them out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your input so far.

Marie-They have to fill out a standard shelter adoption form (very similar to the one you posted). The questions that I will be asking will be part of a face to face interview with them. So they are kind of above and beyond questions.

Greenport ferals-Good point. I will be adding that. I was also thinking about being extremely cautious about adopting to people with small children/toddlers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Marie-true. I will definitely add that if it's their first pet, the vet reference isn't an immediate dismissal of their ability to adopt.

The reason for the more intrusive questions is that people have been adopting and returning the cats, and some have been coming back severely abused/malnourished, and even dying. The shelter manage figures if we ask more probing questions and get a feel for the people, it may help cut down on the issues they have been having.

I'll be checking the references and the shelter manager and I will make the final decisions as to approval or not.

Hope all that makes sense.
 

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Marie-They have to fill out a standard shelter adoption form (very similar to the one you posted).
Oh, whew!!

I'm not sure how much more indepth you can get than the questionnaire. Maybe making sure they know about the real costs of having a pet, food, litter, etc., and how important it is to see a vet right away if there's a problem.

Also, I don't really think it's fair to rule out those with toddlers or small children. We had pets during our entire childhood, I think it's so wonderful to grow up with pets.
 

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In my humble opinion, what your manager wants to avoid can only be avoided by sending volunteers to visit the cats once adopted, more than once (and visiting the home before the adoption). It is very often that the abuser is not the same person who fills out the form but someone living with them or visiting often. That said, I understand that in the US distances are enormeous, and in my tiny country visiting is very easy.

As for questions to ask before the adoption, all the above are very important, of course, but I would get more explorative - you're interviewing for a job as cat owners, I'd adopt some of the techniques of job interviewers. Eg: tell me of an instance that was tough with your pet and how you handled it. Just by seeing what situations they call "tough", I'd get an idea of how good they will be as providers. Another good one would be "do you have any concerns?". If they said no, that'd be a really red light. When you adopt, if you're truly caring, you have a million apprehensions.
 

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Oh, whew!!

I'm not sure how much more indepth you can get than the questionnaire. Maybe making sure they know about the real costs of having a pet, food, litter, etc., and how important it is to see a vet right away if there's a problem.

Also, I don't really think it's fair to rule out those with toddlers or small children. We had pets during our entire childhood, I think it's so wonderful to grow up with pets.
I also agree with this. My first pet was a cat as a child, and it helped me learn how to be empathetic toward animals. We had a persian until my daughter was two, and they were great friends. It allowed her to learn the boundaries very quickly, and having pets has made it much easier to teach her kindness.

One thing that I think is helpful is to ask to meet ALL potential family members before adopting out a cat, to see if they are a match. All of the large shelters in our area do this, and then the family must wait a day or two for the application to be processed before bringing their new furkid home. This also allows them to get a feel for everyone that will have contact with the kitty. Plus, having a day or two between filling out the application and taking the kitty home will help weed out people that might be using the kitty for something awful.

Just my .02!
 

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Good luck!! I couldn't do that job because I wouldn't let most people have an animal. However, not letting lazy slobs adopt an animal doesn't help the overpopulation problem.

I think the most important questions should be:
Are you planning on declawing this cat? What if it scratches your expensive furniture or your kid?

I think the answers to these questions will answer perfectly whether or not they will work with the animal or if they will just give up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
These are all good points and I will be bringing them up with the shelter manager when I talk to her tomorrow.

Cooncatbob-some of the questions on that application are going to be very helpful, thank you for posting that!

Straysmommy-good point and I will be bringing that idea up with her (asking more probing questions/asking if they have any concerns. And you bring up a good point, she is also thinking about getting some of the volunteers to go and visit the home about a week to ten days after the person has adopted the cat. Since I live in a small town, it's not difficult to get people out to visit the homes and make sure things are going well.

Christinaja-Another great point and we are going to try to get all family members to come and meet the potential cat before adopting the cat out to make sure it's a fit. We are also making it a mandatory two day wait to process the applications.

Sinatra-Butters-Yes! Thank you! I knew I had another important one but I had forgotten about the declawing question I had on my mind, thank you for jogging my memory.

I am worried too that I will not want to let most people adopt any of the cats, but I do know that there are some wonderful people out there. All the animals are spayed/neutered before they leave the shelter, so at least that will kind of help with overpopulation. I just know something needs to be done in this area, I am tired of seeing and hearing about all the deaths/abuse going on around here.
Keep the ideas coming, this has been extremely helpful!
 

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7. If you find after the 20 day trial period that the cat is not fitting in with your household, how do you plan to rectify the situation?
Hrm... I'm not sure that having an "open" question is best.
At the rescue group I volunteer for, we tell the people to bring the cat back to us...whether it be 2 days, or 2 years. In fact, lately we've had a lot of cats brought back that have been in a home for over a year, mostly as people are in tough money situations and have to move to smaller (cheaper) apartments and can't afford the pet rent/deposit.
We would much rather the cat come back to us, so we can find it a new home, than have something else happen to it that doesn't guarantee a good life. Many times we've had people put cats they've gotten from us on local classifieds to sell (actually, we caught somebody trying to sell a foster!), dump them in the city shelter (we rescued one from the local pound just last week), or just turn them loose in a rural field to fend for themselves...since you know, ALL cats are such GOOD mousers, that's all they really need to eat ;p.

As for declawing, we don't ask...we TELL them not to. Some people argue that it's "better", or "not so bad" with the laser method, or whatever new technology is being used. But it's still an amputation...they're still going to be missing many joints! And it will still hurt, even if "not as much".
If they're worried about the claw issue, we promote SoftPaws (or generics) and will even show a package of them if people just don't understand what we mean by plastic caps.

That's about all I can think of.
Good luck with the whole thing :)
 

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I think everyone who wants to adopt a cat should be required to buy and read
"Think Like A Cat" or another similar book.
Most cat problems are really a failure of the owner to understand the cat's needs and it's behavior.
 

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Ok so I may be hated for this but I need to put my imput in... I think that whether or not the person wants to declaw the cat should not even be a factor, nor should what brand or type of food they will be feeding it. Yes we here know what may be a more healthier option of food and I dont know anyone here that is not against declawing, but these are cats, that need a home! There are thousands of cats being put to sleep each year, do you think that most shelters are going to care what you plan on feeding your cat or whether it gets declawed as long as someone has spared its live and helps put more room in for other cats in need of homes! I mean, my SO's mother fed her cat Alley cat for crying out loud and the thing lived for 19 years! (Not to mention it was a strictly outdoor cat) I think the vet reference thing may be important and all the other questions, but turning away a person because they may want to feed it purina cat chow or get it declawed is stupid IMO. Instead of doing that perhaps educated the potential adopters on why declawing is cruel and why this food is better than others and give them informational material to bring home with them. If there was a cat that was on death row and in its last minutes a person came in and wanted to adopt it and was turned away because they may have wanted to declaw it and now that cat has been euthenized, thats just rediculous. Sorry, these are all my opinions, disagree if you like.
 

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I think everyone who wants to adopt a cat should be required to buy and read
"Think Like A Cat" or another similar book.
Or better still, join this forum. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Vivid Dawn-Yeah, the declawing issue will have to be discussed with the shelter manager more. She wants the open ended question because she has a handout to give people who say that declawing "doesn't hurt" a cat.

Morquinn-I think everyone has a valid opinion and I could not hate someone for expressing theirs. I am lucky in that the shelter I volunteer with is a No-Kill shelter so we don't have to worry about that. As for what someone wants to feed their cat, that would not disqualify them, rather if they say they have no idea or they say they want to feed Meow Mix or what have you, I am making a handout for suggestions for better food than Meow Mix. But if they choose to feed their cat that, I would not tell them they cannot adopt. Basically for every question we are asking them, we have a handout we can give them on proper feeding, not declawing, how to exercise a cat, how to take care of them, etc etc.

I am also putting on the handouts a link to this website, maybe some of them will join so that they can learn from everyone here. I'm not expecting anyone to join, but I am hopeful.

I should make a suggested reading handout as well!
 

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You would get a good read on people if you could somehow get them to talk about their current pets. So perhaps just try to be conversational with them and get them talking about how their current pets came to them and what they are like.
 

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Looks like you've got some great suggestions already! I think the food/litter questions are valid because it will let you gauge whether or not the person has actually and realistically put thought into those things. I don't think it would be fair to turn down based on brand of food/litter, but making sure the potential adopter has thought through that part of the budget is important.

I think I've accidentally deleted my copy of the one I have (from the rescue where I got Pedro & Apple) so I'll have to ask for another one. I should have one anyway. It's about 6 pages. lol I know there's some strange questions on there taht tend to bring up conversations.

Also, I don't feel it wrong to be intrusive. You are investigating to be sure this family and household is the right for this animal and vice versa. To be sure of the best possible placement I kind of think there is a duty to be intrusive and have the best possible picture of the household. Oh yes... I know one of the questions... if a couple is adopting there is the question of what happens if they split. Far too many kitties are returned because of separations and divorces so that question was tossed in there.

Also, is there a mandatory wait period? A sort of required sleep on it time period. lol
 
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