I Am Surrender Prevention Certified
Lily Rose was an early story in surrender prevention for me. She was one step from being surrendered back to the shelter where she was adopted when she showed up on my front porch in 2016. She was so pretty and such a nice cat, not at all frightened as if she’d escaped, but I’d never seen her before and most indoor-outdoor cats pass by me more than once in this neighborhood. I had her scanned for a chip and found she belonged to to a neighbor on the next block down.
Lily Rose wasn’t intended to be an indoor-outdoor cat but she’d begun using a crawlspace in the basement as her litter box. Her person couldn’t block her from it, nor could she easily clean it. So out of desperation she began letting Lily Rose outdoors to see if she’d use the outdoors as a litter box. Lily did use the outdoors and apparently happily, but her person really didn’t like her outdoors and she didn’t know what to do. She felt her best option was to take Lily Rose back to the shelter and surrender her.
Litter box use, and the avoidance thereof, is the most frequent reason cats are surrendered to shelters. It was the first topic I began to find a volume of information about in regard to cat behavior years ago when I began to pursue information. I had lived with a few who missed the box or didn’t even try sometimes and I had been so glad to learn why they were acting this way. Since this activity is so common I shared it with anyone else who mentioned feline house soiling, so when I called the neighbor and told her I had her cat and she let me know what was happening, I was ready. We were able to get Lily Rose back indoors and give her a second litter box, and both on other floors than the basement.
Surrender Prevention training
That helped prevent Lily Rose from being surrendered to the shelter, where cats with litter box issues often don’t fare well. I knew the shelter was actually using surrender prevention initiatives at that time, so if the woman had decided to surrender her anyway, she’d get another dose of the same information and that would be a buffer for Lily Rose.
But whether the issue is house soiling or spraying, biting or scratching, aggressive behavior toward other cats or pets, or any other infractions cats can find to confuse and anger their people, the last place they should be taken is the shelter. Cats don’t fare well in shelters because being in strange places and handled by strangers is highly stressful for cats not to mention the noises and smells and often being in a cage. Historically about 75% of all euthanasias in shelters are cats in part because their reaction to their surroundings makes them unadoptable. Part of rescue is helping to keep them out of the shelter by advising their person about the source of the behavior and what they can do to help avoid it, hence the “surrender prevention” training.
Cats don’t come with an owner’s manual, we all come to living with cats from different backgrounds, experiences and familiarity with cats, and often people don’t know who to ask when something comes up. Most people misinterpret behaviors based on human reasons for it, like jealousy or spite, and so react to the cat as if that’s the reason, which it’s not, and their reaction has no effect and often backfires.
This training session was a webinar with slides we could study and an online quiz after the webinar was over. The material covered was focused on working with people, being compassionate and understanding, listening to the whole issue which often involves personal matters, and offering real solutions and support, following up with people and staying with them to answer questions as long as they needed. Most people don’t want to surrender their cats, they love them very much, and are grateful to be able to talk and explain to someone who will understand. Knowing and understanding cat behaviors was a given, of course, because you would need to interpret what the person told you and determine what might be the cause or causes of the behavior and know what to recommend.
The webinar was hosted by Community Cats Podcast and the trainer was Dr. Rachel Geller. If you are interested in the training for yourself or someone else, the website is offered again in May. Visit the Community Cats Podcast website for more information.
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One thought on “I Am Surrender Prevention Certified”
Congratulations on your well-deserved certificate.