I‘m a volunteer with a small animal charity based in north west London and have been a pre and post adoption home visitor for cats for the past four years.
Before this I had helped to set up and run our stalls at money raising events for five years, so when they were looking for home visitors I applied; mainly to have a chance to cuddle the cats, and to ensure they went to good homes.
Nowadays there is a training session for applicants—but then it was very much the case that you had to pick it up as you go along.
For potential adoptees the initial interview with the Adoption Officer was to weed out the unsuitable ones— or “sort out the wierdos” as it was delicately put by another Home Visitor!
My job is to visit the potential adoptees in their home and to ensure that they are who they say they are and the cat will be going to that address.
Then I look round the place to make sure it will be cat friendly—will the cat be able to go outside easily? Is the road reasonably quiet? But also does the owner have shelves holding fragile glassware—cats love heights and they mischievously love knocking things down.
Are the curtains beautiful? Kittens will be up the curtains like rats up a drain and kittens’ claws are sharp—those lovely curtains will soon be in tatters.
I also ask the question “Who will look after the cat while you are away?” Most people say “the neighbours” or “my mum”—one family in a smart townhouse in Kensington replied “our Nanny and the housekeeper will be here”—so one poor waif and stray had definitely fallen on her four paws!
Indeed when I did the post adoption visit she was looking down on me from the beautifully carved staircase as if to say, “And who is this peasant?”
I have covered most of the Greater London boroughs and visited people who live in small basement flats, semi detached villas and grand townhouses.
Some are single people; others have children who will also have been involved in choosing their new friends. What they all have in common is their love of cats and the desire to give an abandoned cat a secure and loving home for life.
The best part is returning for the post adoption visit two to three months afterwards. The cat should have settled into their new family by then and most do.
“She/he is part of the family” is what I am usually told, and the cat will come in confidently or a bit shyly. Some will let me pick them up and cuddle them; others will need a bit of coaxing with a nibble or two. I have never had to recommend the return of a cat yet.
Why do cats need rehoming? Some have just been abandoned by careless owners; others have had loving homes with elderly owners who have died.
These days a lot of them have been the loved pets of families who have fallen victim to the “bedroom tax” and have had to change landlords; their old landlord may have been willing to accept a family pet, the new landlord won’t.
Whatever the reasons for their rehoming there are still many people out there who are willing to give a loving home to a cat.
by Ruth Jellings