TIPS ON FINDING A HOME FOR YOUR CAT ON YOUR OWN

If you have a cat you feel you can no longer care for, first of all, please reconsider your decision to give away your cat. We may be able to provide you with helpful advice about the issue you are facing, whether it is a behavior problem, a new baby on the way, a landlord problem, moving to a new home, an allergy problem or something else. Please, E-mail or call us and ask about your problem.
Don't wait until the last minute to find a home. If you decide that there is no way you can keep your cat, please leave plenty of time to make arrangements for your cat. And first, please try on your own to find a good home for your cat, before you place this obligation on over-worked volunteers at a rescue group or shelter. Remember, in traditional shelters in the Greater Philadelphia area, there is not enough room for all the cats being surrendered by owners, and there are not enough people to adopt them, so the majority of the cats are euthanized. Finding a home yourself is the right thing to do. Plan ahead, because it could take a month or two.
Suggested steps for finding a home:

1. Ask your family, neighbors, friends at church, co-workers and employees at your vet's office to adopt your cat, or to suggest someone who might.
2. Post signs on bulletin boards at supermarkets, churches, libraries, pet supply stores, apartment complexes, veterinary clinics, grooming salons, feed supply stores, fitness centers, laundromats, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and other places. Many retirement homes are now keeping a couple of pets on their premises for all the residents to enjoy, so if your cat would be compatible with senior citizens, it doesn't hurt to ask.

a. In your sign include a picture of the cat or a drawing if you have no picture, and its name, sex, age, color, and unusual markings.
b. Describe your cat's personality, especially anything cute or appealing, games it likes to play, anything silly it does.
c. Describe when your cat was spayed/neutered and whether vaccinations are current.
d. Describe the reason you are giving up your cat.
e. State that you require references. This will deter some undesirable people from applying.
f. Don't say "free to a good home". This devalues the cat you love, and tends to attract undesirable adopters. Give your name, phone number(s) and best time to call. Be truthful when describing your cat. If you don't mention something important, the new owners may decide not to keep your cat after all, and then you don't know where it might end up.

3. Advertise in newspapers in the classified section for pets. Include the same information you put in your poster in item 2 above. Here's a sample:
Silly, 3 year old, black/white cat named Benny needs a loving home. We are moving to Japan. Benny is healthy, neutered and current on vaccines. Loves to play games with rubber balls. To adopt Benny, call Rich or Mary at xxx-xxx-xxxx in the evening. We require 3 positive references.
4. Screen everyone who wants to adopt your cat, even family, co-workers and neighbors. You want the best home possible for your cat. Even though you love your family, friends and neighbors, they might have different expectations about a cat. If you have always let your cat up on the bed, tables, countertops and furniture, and her new owners punish her for that behavior, your cat may suffer. Thorough screening is an absolute must for people you don't know. There are people who may sound okay on the telephone, even though they have malicious intentions. Be sure that callers understand that if you agree on an adoption by them, you will deliver the cat to them at their home. Some people may suddenly become disinterested when they know you want to see their home. When you screen people, here's what you need to find out:

a. Name, address and phone. Ask for the age, if the person sounds under 30. Consider how frequently young people's lives change; they move a lot, travel abroad, get married, decide to go to college, etc. These changes might cause them to give away your cat or abandon it.
b. Number of people in family. How often is someone home?
c. Ages of children. If they're very young, do you know if your cat can tolerate a lot of child play?
d. Other pets in the home. Do they get along with cats? How many are there? (Watch out for hoarders. These are people with a psychological problem who start rescuing pets and can't stop, even though their homes may stink and they can't afford proper care for the animals.)
e. Pets they've had in the past, and what happened to them.
f. Three references, one of which should be their veterinarian. eg. Does their family or roommate or significant other want a cat too?
h. Does anyone have allergies?
i. Can they afford the typical veterinary expenses for annual checkups and vaccinations?
j. Type of home. If the person rents, find out if they need landlord approval for a pet. If the person has a lease that says "No Pets", you cat could be kicked out.
A prospective adopter who does not readily answer these questions may have something to hide.

5. Check references. Do not skip this step just because it's hard! Here's how you might have a discussion on the telephone: "Hi, My name is Barbara Jones. Your friend (neighbor, relative, co-worker) Paula Smith gave me your name as a reference. She's interested in adopting our cat Archie. We'd like to know what kind of a cat mom you think Paula would be. (Don't just get off the call because they say she'd be fine.) You've known Paula a long time? Have you been to Paula's house? Do you think a playful (quiet/lazy/rambunctious/active/older) cat would fit in with her family (roommate, boyfriend, etc.) and lifestyle? Do you think her whole family (roommate, spouse, sister, etc.) wants a cat? Have you met her other pets? Do you think they'd get along with a new cat? Do you think Paula has enough room for another pet?" When you call the veterinarian, be sensitive to the fact that they will be cautious about what they say. Ask questions like, "Does Paula bring her pets in for annual checkups and vaccinations? Are her animals in good health? Do you know how many pets she has? Is there any reason why I shouldn't let her adopt my cat? Is there any particular reason you would recommend her to me?" Even if you get an "A+" rating when you check the first reference, you should still call the other two. A person may be too shy to say anything negative, or the prospective adopter may have coached him or her on what to say. If you think something is not right about the impression you're getting, you're probably right. Don't jump at the first adoption offer just because you feel desperate. You might subject your cat to an unhappy experience or worse.
6. The prospective adopters visit your cat. Don't give your home address to prospective adopters until you have checked their references and you think they might be good adopters. Then invite them to visit the cat, but don't turn the cat over to them.
7. Use an adoption agreement. Not everyone will feel comfortable requiring the adopters to sign a legally binding adoption agreement, but using one will give you extra protection for your cat. If you would like an adoption agreement you can use, please call us at 856-719-0512, or e-mail us at SavedWhisker@aol.com.
8. Delivering your cat. If you agree they can adopt your cat, make arrangements to deliver the cat to them at their home. Take you cat's favorite toys, bed, etc. But don't be afraid to walk away from an adoption at the last minute, if you see something in the home that disturbs you. After all, this is your cat, who deserves the best! You can also see how the cat reacts to being in the new home and make helpful suggestions. Be polite, but firm if you change your mind about the adoption.
9. Turn over vet records. If the adoption goes through, give the adopter your veterinary records for your cat and the current rabies certificate. Advise your veterinarian of the name and address of your cats' new owners, and ask them to release copies of their records to the new owners, if the owners request it.
10. Option to return your cat. If at all possible, convince them to call you to take the cat back if the adoption doesn't work out for any reason. If you are unwilling to take the cat back, and they decide not to keep it, you just don't know what could happen to your cat. The adoption agreement mentioned above in number 7 contains a clause about returning your cat.
11. Follow up. We recommend calling the cat's new owners within about 5 days to see how everything is going, and to answer questions they may have about the cat. If you feel guilty about giving up your cat, don't let that stop you from contacting them. Wouldn't you rather know if everything is okay, and if it isn't, to offer advice or go retrieve the cat? If they have questions about pet care or behavior problems that you can't help them with, give them our e-mail address, or our phone number, and we'll give them some advice. However, we will not take the cat from them.

 
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