With so much bad news around at the moment, it is heartening to hear somethingpositive. Since Melbourne’s second lockdown was announced last week, theamount of families wanting to adopt pets has again boomed.

Over the last week, the Cat ProtectionSociety of Victoria has been inundatedwith adoption enquiries. This follows an already busy period, with the Societyseeing an increase in interest since the first lockdown in March. This hasresulted in a supply and demand challenge for the Society, the first it hasexperienced in its 75 years.

Shelter Manager, Lisa Agius hasn’t witnessed a situation like this during hertime at the Society.

“We’ve had more interest than ever in cats and kittens. I keep saying thatthis is a good problem to have. In the past we’ve had to rely on advertisingto get people into the Shelter. Generally December and January are our busiestperiod for adoptions and the middle of the year is quiet,” she said.

This has also resulted in cats and kittens in the Society’s care spendingconsiderably less time at the shelter.

“The average stay for a cat in our care for this period last year was around25 days, over the last few months it has dropped down to a maximum of 14days,” Lisa said.

In March this year, early in the pandemic, the Society made the unprecedenteddecision to close its doors to the public. Two weeks later it initiatedadoption by online applications only. At the time the Society’s CEO Ian Crookfelt it was the best solution in order to keep the Shelter and its staff safewhilst determining the best way of maintaining the Shelter’s mission ofproviding every cat that came into the Society’s care the opportunity for aloving, safe and healthy home.

“Since then our Shelter and Private Vet Clinic have continued to have cats andkittens surrendered at the Shelter and we have had an incredible volume ofinterest from the public wanting to adopt,” Ian said at the time.

“With this in mind, we are now offering adoptions by appointment only and havemade some changes to our adoption process. Anyone interested in adopting a catwill need to complete an online application, and if suitable they will then bematched with an available cat or kitten to suit their specific home and familydynamic,” he said.

Lisa and her team have embraced the new adoption process and hope it willcontinue even after some normality returns.

“The process has worked really well. We can now gauge who is visiting theshelter and know a little bit about them before they come in. With thisknowledge we can provide them with a tailored one-on-one experience whichensures they are ideally matched with a new cat or kitten that perfectly suitsthem,” Lisa said.

“Logistically it also works really well for our staff. We often used to getinundated with visitors on the weekend and it could be hard for staff tomanage, especially when it came to matching people to a cat that suited them,as it is hard to get to know someone in a short space of time. The one-on-onemodel means it is more thorough and people seem to make better choices whenthey are not rushed or left waiting,” she said.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our new adoptees. Theyappreciated that we focused on them for an hour so we could cover absolutelyeverything, answer all their questions, and most importantly ensure they feltreally comfortable with their new family member.”

Lisa doesn’t think the boom in adoption enquiries will lead to an increase insurrendered pets and a lull in adoptions when isolation measures end.

“As we have matched our adoptees so thoroughly, I’m not concerned this will bea problem,” she said.

“Through the application forms and chatting to applicants over the phone we’vebeen able to tell if there are any red flags in regards to their desire toadopt and we’ve been able to ensure that our cats have been adopted to newfamilies who are adopting for the right reasons,” she said.

“The extra time spent with our adoptees has also ensured they are aware thatadopting is a lifelong commitment and have been provided all the informationthey need to assist with their new family member,” Lisa said.

“I don’t think people will stop wanting to adopt cats. There will always be aneed and a want by cat lovers to adopt new pets. I also think a lot of peopleare steering towards cats because they are living in small houses orapartments with small or no backyards. They realise cats can be great as apet, as while they require a high level of care like all pets, they’re stillvery independent. They don’t need to be walked each day or provided a highlevel of house training,” she said.

To find out more about the Society’s online adoption process visit,https://www.catprotection.com.au/adoption/.

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