You know fall is here, when your adoptees are trying on their Halloween costumes. Apparently Henry didn't think too much of his cowboy hat (Photo snitched from Audrey's Facebook page)
I've been getting a flurry of adoption requests, and it's hard to answer them because some of them are far away (how far away is "too far away for me to manage?"). It's tough saying "no" to people who are over 2 hours away, because they feel it must be something in their application, when in fact it's just the nature of the beast. If something goes wrong, I have a hard time arranging to get that kitten back. If she gets sick right after adoption, I can't afford to reimburse a vet many states away. If the kitten isn't altered yet, I have to follow up on spay-neuter and, God forbid, what happens if this kitten gets loose, like Tyler did? I have one potential home that is on my way to my sister's recital in Clinton on Sunday. That works out OK because I could visit the home, drop the kitten off, they can spend the day with her, and I could pick her up on the way home if they decided she wasn't a match.
Some people are 5 or more hours away, and they would gladly drive all the way here. If the kitten were altered, I might feel comfortable enough to let them take the kitten that day, if I can speak with their veterinarian, etc. and it is a very friendly kitten. But if the kitten isn't fixed yet, even with the best of adopters, "anything can happen." Heck, the best cat owners I know have had cats get loose through no fault of their own.
And what if the person drove all that way, and I ended up saying "no?" I very rarely say no, but I have in the past when the person clearly is not taking the time to listen to me, is pooh-poohing everything I say ("Oh, I'm sure he doesn't need to be shut up in a separate room. Our dog LOVES cats") or if the person is alarmingly rough with the cat (I've had that happen only once). I know people sometimes don't follow my advice, but I want them to be the kind of person who will at least sit and listen to it respectfully. I can usually get a good sense of a person on the phone before meeting them in person, but that doesn't give me a good sense of their mate or their children.
The general public is also getting more and more used to the idea of "roadside adoptions" (making all arrangements via phone and internet, and taking possession of the pet at a halfway point). Except in very rare circumstances, I am uncomfortable with these. Even if the adoption seems excellent, I don't like promoting the idea that this is a good way to do adoption. It can be in exceptional circumstances, but I am uncomfortable with it as a general practice. I have heard from the local shelters who end up with some of those pets (usually puppies)when the rescue (in a far-off state) can't take the pup back when the adopter gives it up four months later because the cute little pup has grown up into a big boisterous teenager. This is less of an issue with cats but still...adoption is adoption.
What adopters also don't understand is that there is a new kitten market out there. I have had people inquire who want to adopt my cutest dirt-cheap $50 kittens---to "re-adopt" them for $275 in low-kitten areas. This means I end up being extra-careful with legitimate adopters who just want to kitten to adopt. Good adopters don't understand why I'm being cautious--because truly good people don't understand that there are not-so-good people out there.
(If you just thought "Oh my God, people actually do that?" then you know why good adopters are also bewildered).
I've also had people who seemed like good long-distance homes pull out the night before or the day of my drive to their location. "Oh, we found another kitten at our local shelter last night. We'll send a donation for your time and expense." In 100% of those cases, I've never received a donation, and with adult cats, that means I've invested in a follow-up vet exam and second FeLV/FIV test that the cat would not normally have needed. I'm always shocked when this happens, because the person seemed so nice, and so enthusiastic. How could anyone say "Oh, sorry" the morning of adoption. Why did they GO to another shelter if they had confirmed an adoption with me?
There is no point bringing up all these situations with the good adopter who doesn't understand why I'm asking 100 questions of them. They just say "But I wouldn't do that." And they probably wouldn't. But because people have in the past, I have to weigh the well-being of the kitten, any my emotional well-being, against my assessment of their personality via phone and email. It's a tough call.
But let's not get too dramatic. Most often the issue is just spay/neuter. Spay/neuter is the foundation stone of stopping euthanasia in shelters. If a kitten is fixed, I'll even gladly drive them 4-5 hours to an excellent new home, if time permits. But if the kitten isn't fixed, there are too many loose ends and extra worries, and I just don't have time for extra worries. I can adopt an unfixed kitten to a home ten miles from me and know I can pick her up for her spay/neuter appointment that Friday, help find her if she gets lost, or get her to the vet if she starts sneezing two days after adoption. I can't do that when someone is far away.
There are so many kittens out there. We are not yet at the point--as with puppies--where spay/neuter has succeeded so well that someone must reach out a few states to adopt a homeless pup. If there isn't a fluffy kitten on Petfinder this week, there will be a fluffy kitten on Petfinder next week. I really want it to be MY fluffy kitten that people end up adopting, but sometimes it may not happen.