This is the final article written by Barbara Kohn in this week’s three-part series about special programs at The San Francisco SPCA (The SF/SPCA) for cats, featured on www.examiner.com.
Looking to adopt a new cat? If you prefer a cat with a feisty or spunky personality that is vocal, consider a tortoiseshell. Maybe you are better suited to a mellow feline companion. If so, an orange tabby might be a good fit. These, of course, are just generalizations about the various cat breeds and there are many exceptions. Furthermore, every cat, especially an older one, has a history that has influenced its temperament and behavior. But since cats, like people, are not all the same, the odds of a successful, mutually satisfying adoption are better when you match your needs and preferences to the behavior and personality of the cat you add to your home.
The SF/SPCA wants to make sure that you and your new feline companion stay together for a long time, so about a year ago implemented a very unique program called ‘Meet Your Match' developed by the ASPCA, Meet Your Match helps adopters to get a better understanding of each cat and an expectation of how it will fit into a new household.
Daniel Quagliozzi, cat behaviorist at The SF/SPCA, explained that the shelter previously focused only on a cat’s behavior when it arrived at the shelter and did not factor in its personality. Now they do both.
“The first days at the shelter are often extremely stressful for a cat, so an initial assessment might not give you a true picture of the cat’s real personality or how it will adapt to a certain household,” Quagliozzi said. “Meet Your Match attempts to get a more accurate reading of each cat that we place for adoption.”
A few days after a cat arrives at The SF/SPCA, cat behaviorists with the help of volunteers give it a 15-minute assessment to determine how social it is and how well it adapts to new situations and people. Behaviorists put the cat through its paces, timing its cat-to-human approach, grading its reaction to petting and a variety of other tests — including hugging and tail tugging – and how much it interacts during a five-minute period.
Based on the observations and interaction, the shelter assigns each cat one of nine felin-alities, ranging from the independent and cautious ‘Secret Admirer’ to the gregarious and valiant ‘Leader of the Band.’
“Most cats grade out as 'Sidekicks,' a middle-of-the road cat who is social and affectionate and deals fairly well with new situations and enjoys plays,” Quagliozzi said. He also pointed out that a cat’s felin-ality generally begins at about nine months of age.
Each potential cat adopter also takes a survey, which asks questions about the household environment and expectations about interacting with an adopted cat, such as is it important that the cat likes being held or will it need to get on with children or other animals and more.
The San Francisco SPCA would like to thank Barbara Kohn of www.examiner.com for devoting the week to our shelter, especially with the dissapearance of our blind kitten Jack Daniels. Be sure to read her cat column every day!