Animal Welfare COVIT-19

Lockdown 2.0 results in Melbourne cat adoption boom

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

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

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

“We’ve had more interest than ever in cats and kittens. I keep saying that this is a good problem to have. In the past we’ve had to rely on advertising to get people into the Shelter. Generally December and January are our busiest period 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 spending considerably less time at the shelter.

“The average stay for a cat in our care for this period last year was around 25 days, over the last few months it has dropped down to a maximum of 14 days,” Lisa said.

In March this year, early in the pandemic, the Society made the unprecedented decision to close its doors to the public. Two weeks later it initiated adoption by online applications only. At the time the Society’s CEO Ian Crook felt it was the best solution in order to keep the Shelter and its staff safe whilst determining the best way of maintaining the Shelter’s mission of providing every cat that came into the Society’s care the opportunity for a loving, safe and healthy home.

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

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

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

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

“Logistically it also works really well for our staff. We often used to get inundated with visitors on the weekend and it could be hard for staff to manage, 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-one model means it is more thorough and people seem to make better choices when they are not rushed or left waiting,” she said.

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

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

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

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

“The extra time spent with our adoptees has also ensured they are aware that adopting is a lifelong commitment and have been provided all the information they 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 a need and a want by cat lovers to adopt new pets. I also think a lot of people are steering towards cats because they are living in small houses or apartments with small or no backyards. They realise cats can be great as a pet, as while they require a high level of care like all pets, they’re still very independent. They don’t need to be walked each day or provided a high level of house training,” she said.

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