Adoption Questionnaire

This form, written for cat adoptions, is adaptable to other pets. Advertise! Cast a wide net to find the best home possible (don’t just "ask around.") Use words such as "donation" or "fee" and "home visit" -- unsuitable inquirers will eliminate themselves. Have your "machine" pick up – screen your calls. Trust your instincts.

Donations and home visits cannot guarantee wonderful homes but are components of a careful placement. (Drug dealers might acquire kittens to train dogs to be aggressive. I once saw a room used for such a purpose.) Ask yourself if a questionable placement is worth worrying the rest of your life whether Cupcake is all right. Spare future mental anguish by checking homes and vet references carefully. You want people to keep a cat "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do you part."

Sometimes it takes two or three homes until a cat settles on the one he likes. Expect this to happen from time to time. Here is a good preliminary statement:

As you might imagine it is difficult to part with this cat I found (or am fostering for [group’s name]). I want to find the best home possible. May I ask you some questions?

"I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."

Stephen Grellet
18th/19th-century French/American philosopher



Whereabouts do you live? (If a distance, suggest getting a cat nearby. It will be difficult to perform a house visit.)
Work Phone:


Home Phone:
Message left (date/time):


Call returned (date/time):
Does lease permit pets? (May I confirm that with your landlord and/or see lease or condo rules?)


Fitted window screens? (If not, cat will be difficult to keep indoors!)
What prompted you to answer my ad? (Why are you looking for a cat now?)


Planning to move in near future? (Suggest waiting until the move. It will be easier on the cat!)
Please tell me a little about the kind of cat you are looking for.



Keep in mind: If the cat is a gift, explain that though some preliminary screening can be done by a friend or relative, you will have to meet the new owner in advance of the placement. Suggest wrapping cat supplies/toys if the cat was to be a surprise.

Tell me a little bit about what your household is like, please.




Keep in Mind: How many people and animals share it?Try to gauge what the household is like. For example, if they are in the military or a student find out what provisions they would make if transferred abruptly or in the event of unforeseen contingencies—a real problem with these groups. Suggest fostering as an alternative to adopting.

Have you had cats before?




Keep in Mind: Ask where those animals are now -- what happened to them. Be conversational here, sharing your own experiences with cats who passed on, but learn as much as you can about other owned companion animals. How old were they when they died and what was the diagnosis.

Have you had experience with declawed cats?




Keep in Mind: This is a subtle way of finding out their opinion about it and to how likely you think person is to declaw. As rescuers we end up with the 10% of declawed cats for whom it was a big mistake. Ask them if they are willing to sign a promise not to declaw and if the answer is ambiguous continue to seek out another home. Declawing is tantamount to mutilation and is bone surgery. A cat's nails are retractable. No argument for it favors the cat –it usually involves the furnishings and aggressive behavior. Point out that a cat bite is far more dangerous than a scratch. Suggest getting a tall, sturdy sisal scratching post and trimming the cat’s nails. (206/547-0042 Felix Co. in Seattle makes a great scratching post called the Tall Felix.)

Would your cat be allowed outside?




Keep in Mind: Endeavor to find out if other household cats were let out. Indoor cats live longer – carry less disease – do not disappear one day leaving you a basket case – cannot become infected by other cats – are less likely to pick up fleas. Advise that if the cat will be allowed out -- in a protected environment— you might be able to find them a cat who is used to going out and would hence be more comfortable in that situation.

Do you foresee that you might be able to keep a cat for its entire life?




Keep in Mind: Find out if they've ever had a cat live into old age. Endeavor to find out how much veterinary care they have given a former pet. Ask for the name of the vets they have used – and then before placing the cat – call the vet office to see if they have any record of this person or family.

How do you feel about having two cats?



Keep in Mind: Make a pitch for having a pair. Easier to introduce at once--equal seniority--relieves kitty ennui when you are absent or at work.

What would constitute unacceptable behavior?




Keep in Mind: Find out what rules they enforce or plan to enforce. Whether the cat would be allowed on furniture or kept out of bedrooms/off beds. Aggression toward other cats is undesirable behavior: "time out" (putting the cat in a bathroom for a 5 or 10 minutes) is helpful in deterring undesirable behavior. Again – a sturdy, tall scratching post of sisal and regular nail clippings are useful tools in protecting furnishings.

Would you be willing to take a cat with behavior problems to the vet?




Keep in Mind: Sometimes a cat associates the pain of cystitis or constipation with litter box and then stops using the box. Educate them to the fact that sometimes a cat is trying to communicate a problem the only way they know. Some cats become disturbed when left alone too much. Suggest two cats!

Do you have any theories about feeding cats?




Keep in Mind: The Whole Cat Journal, Vol. 1, No. 5: ".there is nothing natural or holistic about dry food, and FUS (feline urological syndrome) occurs almost exclusively in cats fed …dry food. Dry food is deficient in moisture … Cats have an inefficient lapping design and can’t make up this deficiency at the drinking bowl. Their normally concentrated urine now becomes more concentrated, and little crystals begin to form. The crystals irritate the bladder walls, which allow bacteria to settle. … The irritation causes the cat to try to urinate continually. …. In males this can be life-threatening without emergency care…." Tell them celery is good for our teeth but variety is also important. Meals are the highlight of a cat’s day. Mention some favorite brands: Whiskas, Old Mother Hubbard, Iams, Science Diet, Max Cat.

About how much do you anticipate it might cost to keep a cat for a year?



Keep in Mind: Make sure this potential adoptor can afford to take care of a cat in sickness as well as in health. Discuss various conditions that occur in cats, particularly as they age: teeth, kidneys, thyroid, diabetes. Discuss the value of feeding high-quality food.

Do you have a vet in mind?



Keep in Mind: Name a few you know of in their area. Advise them where the all-night emergency vet hospital is in case of an emergency.

What about your business travel/vacations?




Keep in Mind: Find out if they travel much in the summer or at holidays and what they would do about kitty ... Discuss air travel (risky for pets).

Tell me something about pets you have had (or lived with).




Keep in Mind: Past behavior with animals is the best indicator of the future. If the caller did not own a cat personally, the probably had a friend or family member who had a cat. Ask for details of how the cat was treated, what it ate, whether the cat was allowed to go out, if the cat was declawed, what vet was used. If they are new to the area, find out if you can whether they left some cats behind--and what arrangements were made.

Overall what is your philosophy about companion animals?




Keep in Mind: Endeavor to find out if the pet is going to be an accessory ("while the good times last") or a lifetime commitment./family member.

Ask Yourself:
  • Does this person seem mature and financially secure and sufficiently settled to take on a cat or cats which may live 15-18 years?
  • If you adopt to this individual are you likely to spend much time revisiting your decision in the coming months or years?
  • Would you entrust your favorite personal cat to this person

Notes: Until you have been to someone's home, it is difficult to gauge whether you will feel comfortable leaving a cat with them. A rescuer once said, "Leave it to a cat to poop his way out of a home he doesn't like!" This in  itself is a good reason for a home visit: occasionally you may have to find your way back in a hurry! The home visit gives you an opportunity to educate new cat guardians, answer questions, allay concerns and alert them to possible dangers in the home. (If you see priceless silks and objet d'art you can practically hear kitty's nails being ripped out as you walk down the path!) In some jurisdictions (such as Washington, D.C.) no humane society cat is released to an adoptive home without the home being visited by a volunteer. If the cat has been living with you (or knows you), he will feel much more comfortable with the adoption if he knows that you know where he is (that he just wasn't catnapped out of your home or cage at the local pet adoptathon). A home visit is one of the nicest and most reassuring things you can do (for yourself!) when you place a cat.

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