Animal shelters are, in many cases, safe havens for animals who have been abandoned by their owners.
Other than being a stray, the reasons for animals losing their home are endless – too old, too fat, too sick, the owners are moving, the cat scratched the couch, it meows too much, it cuddles too much, it’s aggressive, it does not use the litter box appropriately.
So we take these animals in, many are broken in one way or another. We have them checked out by our vets. We isolate them to observe them.
Cats can go into a deep depression after they are discarded by their owners and refuse to eat. This leads to liver failure, and at times death.
Once we feel that the animal is eating and adjusting to the shelter, we let them into communal areas with other felines.
Once they have been released, we watch their interaction with the other cats. Often we get very little information about the past of the animals we take in. So we have to get to know them. We watch them around kids. Around loud noises. Are they hiding? Are they afraid of males? Females? Do they jump in the lap of every person who enters their pen?
There are several volunteers who study the newcomers. We make notes about them and compare them to see if we agree on the personality. For example, we try to predict the type of home that would be best suited for a cat that pees inappropriately. What is the trigger for this behaviour? Can it change in a new home? What type of home would be ideal?
None of this is an exact science, but we work hard to learn as much as we can about these animals. Our final purpose is to find them the perfect home.
We are honest about their inappropriate behavior. We try and provide a potential adopter with as much information as we can.
Some people decide not to take a cat because he is aggressive with other cats, while others may decide to take the chance and dedicate themselves to making it work.
The bottom line is that the business of an animal shelter is to care for the animals, and ensure that they go into a proper home.
Some people believe that they are doing us a favour by adopting a cat. They might be, but only if the cat fits into their home. If it does not, we know that, sooner or later, the cat will be returned to the shelter. Each time they come back their issues intensify.
So if you apply for an animal, any animal at any rescue, and you are not approved as a home, it means that the staff, knowing that animal, don’t think that it’s the right fit for you. We are here strictly for the welfare of the animals, not to pacify humans.
– By Magdalena Romanow, a volunteer at Katie’s Place, an animal shelter in Maple Ridge.