Originally Posted by Yosemite
At the shelter where I volunteer cats are only kept in cages when they first come into the shelter; they are vet-checked and kept at the vet for at least 10 days before coming to the shelter. After a week or so the cage is then taken into one of the 2 cat rooms. After a few more days in there, the door of the cage is opened to allow the cat to come out if they care to. The staff encourage the cat to come out and mix with the others. Within a few days or a week the cat is integrated into the room population. The rooms have cat trees and shelves at different levels throughout the rooms for the cats to "hang out" on. There are numerous cat beds and lovely places to have a nap. Sometimes there's a bit of a hissy fit happening, but no serious fights. When someone comes in that wants to adopt they go into these cat rooms and spend time there. I often just go in and sit down on the floor and am instantly surrounded by cats looking for some loving.
Is there any way your shelter could dedicate a room to the cats and allow them cage-free living? It works beautifully at our shelter. Naturally cats that have aggression issues are usually kept in a cage (in the cat room or the overflow room) but are still around the other cats. I believe they use a feliway plugin in the cat rooms as well. The couple that started this shelter insisted that there be cat rooms where the cats could live freely and not be caged. It's wonderful really.
Unfortunatly, our shelter is not rich enough to afford to rent a place. All the cats are placed in foster families (where they are free in the homes and are socialized) and people can browse the available cats on internet and decide to visit them in these different homes if they want to adopt one. To increase their chances of being adopted, though, every two weeks we rent a space for one day and we bring all the cats in so that people can come visit more than a cat at the time. We don,t have enough time to make the cats comfortable enough to just let them free in the room, so during this particular day, they have to stay in cages.
GoldenKitty45: You are right, some people come and they already have an idea of what they want their future cat to look like. However, and this is especially true with older cat, if the cat is really nervous, there's really less chances for him/her to be adopted. The reason is simple: people want to "connect" with the cat. If the cat wants to play or to be pet, even if he/she isn't the color they wanted him/her to be, they are most likely to fall in love with him/her. If we have to tell the visitors: "no, you can't pet him and we can't take him out of his cage because he might be agressive", people will just keep going and look at the other cats. That's why some of our cats have been in the system for so long while others are being adopted all the time...