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'Feline-ality' tests match adopter, cat

The Baltimore Sun

Do you like your cat?

For some people the honeymoon with their new cat is over within days -- and that's why the Central California Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has started to give its cats a personality test. The test is known as "Meet Your Match: feline-ality."

"Are you looking for one that will sit down with you, or do you want one that will jump up and play with you?" said Beth Caffrey, volunteer coordinator for the Fresno, Calif., SPCA. "It will make people think about what they want."

There are nine personalities, ranging from shy, quiet and loving to playful, adventurous and downright crazy. Cats are assessed by shelter workers based on their behaviors and interests. Then, using a questionnaire, shelter employees try to match an owner's preferences with the cat's behavior.

For example, Sheetrock, a shelter mascot, displays rambunctious "party animal" traits. Brooks, another shelter mainstay, is Sheetrock's opposite -- a low-key, somewhat shy "private investigator."

Prospective cat owners who come to the shelter or an SPCA adoption site in a pet store are asked to fill out a 16-question survey to identify the type of cat they want to adopt. Then, when they go through the "cattery" portion of the shelter, purple, orange and green cards represent the personality types.

Bill Danner of Sanger, Calif., was searching for a cat to hunt down moles on his property. A large, calm black-and-white male was a good fit, because the cat could contend with Danner's dogs while on the hunt.

"I am looking for a hunter," he said. With some assistance from the cattery's lead person, Beatrice Erwin, he selected his cat.

"He has some scrapes like he's been in some battles," Erwin said.

Karen and Steve Dezso, whose "feline-ality" form pointed to a high-energy cat, took home a gray-and-white kitten after adopting a puppy, too.

While owners learn more about what they want in a pet, the program also plays an important role for shelters. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shows that return and euthanasia rates have decreased as much as 40 percent in shelters where the program is used.

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