SLIDESHOW: Caboodle Ranch cat adoption, an amazing display of warmth and understanding

Entering the shelter that has been caring for nearly 700 cats since the end of February was a moving experience. 

The energy level was high as staff and volunteers made the final preparations.

The event that they had been hoping for over the past five months was about to happen - a mega-adoption weekend for the cats rescued from Caboodle Ranch.

I expected that my first deployment with the International Fund for Animal Welfare as the Program Officer for Disaster Response would include assisting with rescuing animals during natural disasters or working at a temporary shelter to set up for the animals displaced from their homes.

Not this time, as IFAW also assists in rescuing animals from man-made disasters, like cruelty cases. 

IFAW responders were originally deployed in the initial large-scale cat seizure and evidence collection operation. 

Their hard work paid off and now the cats were released by the courts and they could finally find new homes! 

So my first deployment was serving in the role as an adoption counselor for a two-day multi-location event in which I worked to make the best matches between potential adopters and as many cats as I could out of the 300 or so located at the ASPCA’s Temporary Shelter in Jacksonville, FL. I was able to match up 30 thrilled animals with loving new forever-home owners.

In getting to know the cats, I hung up their adoption flyers and removed their old identification papers and it was amazing to see how far they had come! 

The cats I was looking at in the kennels were an ideal weight, had bright and clear eyes and shiny coats.

This was a huge contrast to the photos that were taken upon intake in which many of the cats were underweight, had upper-respiratory infections and dull coats. 

As I continued to meet the cats, I was saddened to see the number of cats that were positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) or Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), and in a few cats cases, they were positive for both incurable diseases. 

I knew I had my work cut out to find homes for special needs cats.

As the first day of the adoption event started, it seemed like every adopter was looking for a companion for their cat at home. 

The cats that tested negative for FIV and FeLV were quick to find their new homes.  But I had so many great cats that were positive! 

I was initially discouraged as my previous experiences in animal sheltering had always shown great difficulty adopting out FIV/FeLV positive cats, but I was surprised at the number of people who were open to taking a cat that’s health was known to be compromised. 

I had a family come in with three young girls and they were looking for one cat that was calm and affectionate. 

I knew just the cat. 

An adult female brown tabby and was a purr-machine.  She did great with the girls and they already wanted to name her Georgia.  We discussed her health condition (FeLV+), and they were open and prepared to meet her forever needs. 

What a great match!

We had a great first day of the event and on the second day, I was hopeful to continue to adopt out more special needs cats. 

The day started out great and the first family that came in my section fell in love with a petite adult male orange cat that was a double positive meaning that he was positive for both FIV and FeLV. 

I nervously watched as they passed the cat around (some cats are nervous when picked up!) and he loved all of the attention. 

The family adopted him and was an inspiring start to the day which continued to be filled with lots of special needs cats finding their new homes. 

This event was so well-thought out that they even had members of the medical team provide medical consultations for the adopters of special needs cats. 

They also had behavior consultations for those cats that were especially shy. 

Everything was done for these cats to set them up for success in their new home. 

It was truly a unique opportunity to see the dedication all of the responders had to these animals and how the community supported this dedication by providing a new home for these cats where they will receive the attention and affection they deserve.

--JG

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters