By Kerrie McKeon
Last June, I celebrated my tenth anniversary with Bideawee. Those years have been spent both as a matchmaker and as a cat behavior specialist.
Some organizations have different staff for each component of animal care, but here at Bideawee, adoption matchmakers clean cages and kennels, feed and medicate, carry out behavior modification plans, and, of course, introduce potential adopters to our available pets. There is, truly, rarely a dull moment!
Six years ago, I started my own cat behavior and cat sitting business. It was gratifying, after a day of caring for homeless cats, to spend quality time with treasured pets, and to use what Bideawee cats had taught me to help owners work with behavior issues.
Several years ago, friends outside of the animal welfare world started inquiring why I continued to work in the adoption center. Most of these friends were not "animal people". How could I make them understand that those of us who choose this work view it as a calling? There are sad days, sadder stories, and loss, of course, but there is also the joy of rehabilitation, the teamwork, and, most of all, the adoptions.
When I walk a potential adopter through the cat areas, I think of myself as their agent. I spent years auditioning as a dancer and actor, so this comes easily to me! Knowing their stories, likes and dislikes, and their unique and quirky behaviors, allows me to present them as they might be in a home.
Adopters often think they know what they are seeking in a pet, but what they think they want, and what they actually need may be worlds apart. As a matchmaker, my job is to use my instincts to gently guide them in the right direction, and then get out of the way.
The moment when an adopter and a cat choose each other is both mysterious and magical. I have witnessed many an adopter take home a senior cat when they swore they wanted a kitten. Others decide they can't possibly split up two siblings, or even two unrelated buddy cats, and open their hearts and homes to both. Even cats with conditions such as chronic renal failure and cancer have found pet parents. Matchmakers have the intense satisfaction of knowing that lives, both animal and human, have been changed for the better. That is why I stay. This work is for the irretrievably smitten, and I am most certainly that!