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I'm sure that animal shelters go to a lot of trouble to rehome their animals and make sure the new owners understand the responsibility they are taking on. After all, they don't want to see the animal back at their doors in a few months' time!

So what sort of questions do they ask?

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I've filled out a couple of applications for cats, and some of the questions I've been asked include: (in addition to the questions in Monica's answer)

  • Family Involvement/History:

    • How does everyone else in the house feel about adding a new pet?
    • Who will be primarily responsible for this cat (if a child, who will check that it's done; if you're alone, is there someone to step in due to illness/travel)?
    • Do any members of your family have asthma or allergies?
    • Describe your household activity/noise level (High/Medium/Low)
    • How long will the cat be alone each day?
    • Have you ever lost, sold, given away or surrendered a pet? If so, why?
    • Have you ever had an animal die as the result of being hit by a car, being poisoned or from unknown causes?
    • Have you ever had a cat that gave birth?
  • Breed/Species Specific Questions:

    • Siamese cats are very people oriented. They require more time than the average cats, and may choose one person in the household to bond with. They can also be vocal, curious, persistent, and highly intelligent. How would you feel if your cat chooses just one person to bond with? What if the person chosen is not whom you were adopting the cat for and how would you deal with those problems?
    • All cats make messes. They shed, kick litter out of the box, may throw up food or cough up hairballs, and may, if stressed or unhappy enough, even have litterbox accidents. How do you feel about your cat having accidents or being messy? What are some possible solutions you might try to curb some of the messes created by your cat?
    • Will your cat be (outdoor, indoor/outdoor, indoor only)?
    • Will your cat be declawed (most rescues do not permit declawing)
  • Understanding Rescued Animals:

    • Upon arrival at your home, how do you think your new cat might be feeling after what they've been through?
    • What are some things you can do to increase your new cat's comfort level?
    • What are three of the most important signs of adjustment you would expect to see within the first 36 hours of arriving at your house, and if you don't see them, what should you do?
    • What are some of the behaviors that may present themselves as your new cat adjusts to it's new environment? What specifically would you do to address those issues? How long would you be willing to work to resolve any negative behaviors before returning the cat?
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In my (limited) experience, typical areas of questioning include:

  • About the home environment: Do you own or rent? How long have you lived there? How many people live there and what are their ages (particularly children)?

  • Past and current pets: Do you have any pets now? Tell us about them. (Oh, and are they neutered?) Have you had pets in the past? What happened to them? Is this your first pet of this type?

  • Your new pet: Do you plan to let your cat outdoors? Do you have a yard for your dog to run in? Who's your vet? Do you understand the financial commitment you're making? Are you familiar with introducing new pets to a household (if not we'll teach)?

  • Contingency: What plans have you made for your pet if something happens to you?

  • Why do you want to adopt a {dog, cat, bunny, etc}?

  • What are you looking for in your new pet?

Sample application forms

  • Nice answer. Most of these are self-explanatory, but I'm curious about why they would ask if you own or rent your home? Is it to see if you've checked with the landlord that you can keep pets? – starsplusplus Dec 3 '14 at 9:47
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    @starsplusplus if you rent then yes, they want to see evidence that it's ok with the landlord. And this is a guess, but if you rent there might be followup questions about your long-term plans, because even if this landlord allows pets, your next one might not -- so how hard are you prepared to work to find one who does? (I own, so I haven't been down that path.) – Monica Cellio Dec 3 '14 at 13:54
  • Most also want to know how you care for your pets medical needs. Especially Heartworm preventitive and immunizations. – Critters Dec 3 '14 at 15:16
  • It's quite common for landlords to impose a 'no pets' rule, because a lot of them have had horror stories - a person living in squalor combined with a pet doing the same. Or potentially changing their mind about granting permission for a pet, forcing the owner to get rid of it or move out. – Sobrique Dec 19 '14 at 11:54
  • Lots of landlords don't allow pets at all (or restrict them by size, sometimes), and those who do usually charge an extra deposit that you probably won't get back. I hadn't considered landlords changing their minds (and lease terms) -- good point, @Sobrique. – Monica Cellio Dec 19 '14 at 13:38

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