Adoption Procedures

Also see
Cat Adoptions at Best Friends (pdf file), authored by the Best Friends Animal Society, for a sample application form and adoption contract, plus lots more helpful tips on finding a great home!

You've trapped a pair of siblings – the most adorable 8-week old kittens you've ever seen! But you can't keep them and so begins the process of finding them the best home possible. Where do you start?

Pictures! Don't be afraid to go for cute! There's a lot of competition for good homes. Keep in mind prospective adopters are not sitting with you in your living room ogling over your critters' precious antics. Get some great shots and post them on the Petfinder website.  Also, make up flyers to post at your local pet store, vet, market, gym – almost anyplace. Then sit back, be patient and enjoy the kittens while you have them – too much socialization is never a bad thing – and get ready to thoroughly screen your callers.

Be prepared to ask a lot of questions. If you've decided your pair must be adopted together, that will be your first question. Have your checklist ready. Some questions we suggest include the following:

  1. Is the cat for you or is it a gift? If a gift, you'll want to speak directly to the person due to receive the cat – no surprises!
  2. Do you have a cat now? Ask about his/her health (FIV/FeLV negative) age, spayed/neutered, personality, what type of food, etc.
  3. Had cats in the past? If so, what happened? Don't accept "died of old age." Ask specific questions.
  4. Cats do scratch things! What would you do if your cat scratched the furniture? Determine if the cat has any chance of getting declawed if it does not "mind its manners." We strongly recommend cats NOT be declawed - the procedure involves amputating bones and cutting ligaments and tendons, and can cause permanent physical and psychological damage. The barbaric procedure has been banned in England as cruel and it is a huge black mark on our veterinary profession that they still do it. We adamantly refuse to adopt a cat to anyone who even suggests they might declaw.
  5. Do you have roommates? Children? Is anyone allergic to cats? If there are roommates, make sure it's clear who will have ultimate responsibility for the cat - avoid "shared" situations unless the adopters are in a long-term intimate relationship. Otherwise, trouble inevitably looms down the road.
  6. Are there screens on all the windows, terrace, balcony? (Yes!) Will the cat be allowed on the fire escape? (No!)
  7. Pets are a lifetime commitment. Cats can live to be 20 years old! Are you prepared to care for the cat for its lifetime? What if your situation changes (a baby, boyfriend/girlfriend, move, etc.)?
  8. Will the cat go outside? Under what circumstances? Closely supervised or not?
  9. Employed? Occupation? How long?
  10. References? (Job and personal.)
If the answers to these questions are satisfactory, explain the next steps: come and meet the cat. If the visit goes well, the adopter will be asked to pay a fee (we suggest $60 for one, $100 for two) and then you will be paying a visit to the prospective home.

These steps are very important to ensuring a good placement. The fee eliminates any possibility of someone unscrupulous getting the cat and selling him, most likely to a laboratory for research. The home visit allows you to see for yourself that the adopter has been honest about their circumstances, there are screens on the windows, and there is nothing obviously amiss.

The bottom line is you are trying to make a decision that will impact the rest of the cat's life, so you need as much information as you can gather. A good home will understand why you are asking so many questions and following these procedures. When someone doesn't understand and is bothered by your thoroughness, that's a red flag to keep looking. When they appreciate your efforts, that's a good sign.