Adopting a pet is so easy… right?

An animal rescue and a cat café want people to know that animal adoption is a lot more work than they think

Animal rescues are experimenting with new approaches to ensure careful adoptions of pets, through educating people and encouraging interaction with the animals.

During the pandemic, many people wanted a little companion to keep them company. Adopting a pet to have a companion is great, but people sometimes forget the responsibility it requires to be a good pet parent. Additionally, animal rescues often struggle to keep future pet parents in check for adoption. Rescues offer online resources to prepare people for the steps of adoption, such as articles or chats to ask questions about the process. Most importantly, rescues recommend future parents know what kind of animal they want in their home.

Patricia Durocher is the communications coordinator at Proanima Animal Rescue in Boucherville. She is in charge of promoting the rescue through social media and helping people through the adoption process. Durocher is also head of a sensitization program she started in 2014 where she visits schools to educate students on how to be good adopters. 

“[The students] knew all the right answers. They knew, it’s very instinctive. I would say how to recognize the signs that an animal is uncomfortable, it’s scared, things like that. Then it seems like it gets lost over time,” said Durocher.

Adults tend to lose that perception about pets and later get confused about what kind of animal is best for them, according to Durocher. Even though she works with students, educating the adults on adoption must continue.

“It’s super important, but there is work with the adults that still needs to be done all the time,” said Durocher.

Durocher says that Proanima have younger animals who are in good shape, they just get adopted really quickly. She says that there is a stigma behind rescue pets which claims that they are damaged, old, or sick, which makes adopting them harder. 

“When [people] want an animal, they want it to be fast, they want a healthy animal and everything. This means that not everyone is ready to go find a shelter animal, which has an older animal, which has health problems,” said Durocher.

Durocher says there are many reasons as to why people abandon their pets. She believes that financial issues, a lack of time to care for the animals, and health concerns are some of the reasons that come up after an animal is adopted. Despite this, Durocher has noticed fewer animal abandonments and more adoptions in recent years.

When she is helping clients find their ideal pet, she notices it can be complicated. Sometimes during adoptions people have a specific idea of what kind of animal they want, without properly preparing for the experience. 

“You can’t necessarily adopt on a whim, but the problem it causes is that the person, if they find [the adoption process] too complicated or too long, they’ll just go somewhere else,” said Durocher.

Durocher feels that there needs to be a balance between an effective adoption process and ensuring that whoever is adopting a pet feels comfortable doing it.

Clément Marty is the owner of Café Chat L’Heureux in Montreal. His love of cats encouraged him to open a place where cats and humans can connect on a deeper level. By offering a new approach to animal interaction, Marty hopes that people will learn that altering their behaviour to understand the cats creates better adopters.

Café Chat L’Heureux, Catherine Reynolds/THE CONCORDIAN

“This is one of the things that will contribute to this, to be selective, to raise awareness around adoption,” said Marty.

Proanima and Café Chat L’Heureux have been partners since the café opened in 2014. The café’s cats are all rescues. There are eight older resident cats and every three to four months, two to five kittens from Proanima come to the café as part of their adoption program. Their cats walk freely around the café, interact with the clients, and remain independent when they feel like it. Marty has rules where the cats can do whatever they want, but the humans, not so much. Instead of mindlessly picking up or petting the cats, the people learn how each cat behaves.

“They will learn to take the time to look at the animal, to be interested in it. It’s all the little things that will help, in any case, to go in the right direction: to promote adoption in shelters, to promote good practices with cats,” said Marty. 

Marty and Durocher agree that people impulsively adopt animals without knowing what challenges to expect. This complicates things between the person considering adoption, the person interviewing the potential new parents of the animal, and the animal itself. The café allows the cats to wander free and gives people an opportunity to get to know the cats who roam the place. People can then have a clearer idea of what kind of cat they want in their homes. 

There are a lot of people who adopt a cat, but who are not even aware of what it costs. They’re not even aware of what it requires. Offering a place like this, is to offer an alternative,” said Marty.

Café Chat L’Heureux Catherine Reynolds /THE CONCORDIAN

Marty makes it his mission to educate people on effective adoption and the cats in his café. He provides them with the tools they need to make a clear decision on their future pet. Plus, he feels that animals are more than just an investment. He wants to remind people of this when they consider adopting either from a rescue or from the café.

Having a pet, it’s not a right, it should be a privilege,” said Marty.

Durocher admires what Marty has created and continues to create. Not everyone can open a cat café, but she believes that the project can work as long as it is done with pure intentions. 

“I think it’s just a positive experience. There’s another café that could open and do this all wrong, just take 10 cats and put them in the café. You can’t get there and then see cats that aren’t well, and that are terrified,” said Durocher.

Durocher and Marty continue to expand their businesses and help people adopt a pet the right way. Jumping the gun when adopting is not the way to go, it takes patience and a real idea of the kind of pet you are looking for. By doing it right, you will get a purrfect outcome.

Student Life

Yum or Yikes: Café Chat L’Heureux

Last week, I paid a visit to Café Chat L’Heureux.

Located in the heart of the Plateau, it’s one of two cat cafes in Montreal, where guests can enjoy their cup of coffee in the company of some feline friends. Café Chat L’Heureux opened in 2014, and has since become a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

The first cat cafe can be traced back to Taiwan in the late ‘90s. The concept was picked up by Japan shortly after, and spread across the rest of the world throughout the following decade. Now, many major North American cities have opened these cafes, their popularity supported by the growing influence of social media and a growing support for the adopt don’t shop movement.

Café Chat L’Heureux is currently home to roughly 10 cats, some of which were adopted from local shelters, and others which the shop foster. Upon entering the cafe, I was confused: where were all the cats? It took me a few moments to realize that the cats were, well, everywhere. Nestled in between cushions, curled up in corners, and perched on the beams overhead, the cats were camouflaged with their environment. Eventually, a few came out of their nests to say hello and—not to be dramatic—it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

The cafe’s ambiance was homey and mellow, with soft music playing overhead and guests chatting quietly, some of them relaxing on the couches, often with a cat resting beside them. I had the pleasure of enjoying my food while a tiny kitten rested on my lap, so it’s safe to say that I was pretty happy with the atmosphere.

Ambience: 7/5

The menu is entirely vegetarian, with a few vegan options as well, offering a selection of sandwich melts, salads, soups and smoothies. I tried their popular menu item dubbed “Cat Lady,” a grilled sandwich with goat cheese, cheddar, caramelized onions, fig jam and honey. The sandwich was delicious and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys rich comfort foods.

The cafe also offers a variety of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, so I enjoyed my sandwich with a super tasty hazelnut latte. This was followed by a piece of cheesecake and a brownie that I shared with a friend. Unfortunately, the desserts didn’t live up to the main course, as I found the cheesecake a bit bland, and the brownie to have a texture closer to cake.

Food: 3.5/5

Price wise, the menu was a tad expensive—on average, sandwich melts cost around $14 each, coffees around $5 and desserts about $6.50. However, considering the fact that keeping cats alive is a costly affair, I could understand the need for higher prices and didn’t mind paying a little more than I normally would.

Price: 4/5

The employees at Café Chat L’Heureux were really nice, and you could tell that they really loved working with the cats. My only teeny-tiny complaint is that the service was slightly slow, but considering the relaxed atmosphere, I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I was in no rush to leave, that’s for sure!

Service: 4.5/5


Photo by Laurence B.D.

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