Lessons Learned from Our Latest Adoption

The latest addition to our family is a wonderful black cat adopted from a local shelter in late December. Meet Java. He’s already buddies with Pepper, our black and white cat. Now Foxy, our senior girl, can get some rest while the two boys play.

Since I publish this blog about animal shelter tips, of course, I couldn’t keep from noticing a few tips that could have made Java’s adoption go a bit smoother. This shelter, like everyone else these days, is very understaffed and struggling with finances. However, these pointers would not take much effort on their part and could provide a smoother transition to the adopting family.

Copy the microchip contact information and follow up. I routinely call the microchip company for any pet we adopt to verify that the contact information is correct about one month after the adoption. In this case, the shelter had apparently misplaced the form I completed for this and there was no follow-up. If I hadn’t checked into this, the microchip would still indicate that the number was assigned to that particular shelter but no pet was registered on the company database. It’s easy to scan in the contact information and keep it on file. Certainly, there should be a follow-up system to make sure the information is sent to the microchip company.

Keep pets separate if possible. I met Java at an offsite adoption location, three to four weeks before we adopted him. He had a cage to himself that was fairly large and comfortable for him. Of course, it’s impossible in many shelter situations to keep the pets separate, but when you can, it helps reduce the spread of disease. However, on my numerous visits to see Java, he was playing on the floor with several other cats.

Keep the adoption area clean. The cages were movable and elevated a bit. The cats were going underneath the cages to an extremely dirty and dusty floor area. They were all filthy from this activity — so much that I had dust and dirt all over me from picking him up. One of the volunteers commented about the dirt, yet they did nothing to clean up.

On my early visits, his eyes looked fine. On the last visit when we adopted him, he had a discharge from his pinkish left eye which appeared to be conjunctivitis. Our vet later confirmed that it was. He may have contracted it from one of the other cats or from his exposure to dust. Before signing the adoption paperwork, I inquired about the eye condition. No one was available to pick Java up and take him back to the shelter to check his eye for two days. Yet they wouldn’t hold him for me past 24 hours. I chose to go ahead and take him. This resulted in extra expense for us since we paid for the eye drops needed to clear up conjunctivitis. Some people might have chosen to not adopt a pet with an obvious eye problem.

Lesson learned? If possible, keep the cats separated. If they go outside their cages, keep their play area as clean as possible. Take extra precautions to prevent the spread of disease if you can.

Arrange to have the pets living at offsite adoption locations checked for health issues if possible. The cats at this location actually live there, day and night, till they’re adopted.

Just a little more attention to these details can make a lot of difference.

Tip for any pet owners: Be sure to check with the microchip company to confirm that your contact information is correctly listed rather than the animal shelter or a previous owner. Get a copy of your pet’s listing for your own file and be sure to update when you change addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

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