Using the Cat Healthy Adoption Checklist to Improve the Lives of Adopted Cats

Dr. Liz O'Brien, DVM, DABVP (Feline), The Cat Healthy Clinic
Karen Reichheld, Hamilton Burlington SPCA

The Cat Healthy Shelter Adoption Checklist should be used as a guideline for meeting the emotional and preventive healthcare needs of cats in shelters, and as an educational tool at the time of adoption. The majority of newly adopted cat owners do not continue regular preventive veterinary care. As a result, cats suffer silently with painful conditions and are not adequately protected against infectious and parasitic diseases. The list should help decrease return to shelter rates, increase feline preventive healthcare and increase the quality and length of life of cats in Canada.

Key Learnings:
1. Acquire a clear understanding of the preventive healthcare and environmental needs of the cat as recommended by the six board-certified feline specialists in Canada.
2. Learn how to practically and effectively use the Cat Healthy Adoption Checklist in the shelter and at the time of adoption.
3. Become a Cat Healthy Feline Adoption Specialist.


Elizabeth O’Brien, DVM, DABVP (Feline)
"Dr. Liz" graduated from OVC in 1985 and became a Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Feline Practice in 1999. She is the owner of two successful feline only practices in Hamilton, Ontario where she continues to work in the trenches as a practitioner and a passionate advocate for the welfare of cats. Dr. Liz is the visionary for Cat Healthy, whose mission is to increase the value of owned, homeless and feral cats in communities across Canada. Through her leadership, Dr. Liz brought together the six board-certified feline specialists in Canada and industry partners to create the Cat Healthy initiative. She was recipient of the CVMA Small Animal Practitioner of the Year Award for 2014.

Karen Reichheld
Karen has been the manager of animal care and adoptions for the Hamilton Burlington SPCA for the past five years. As the HBSPCA leader for the Cat Healthy Shelter Adoption Checklist Pilot Project, Karen has helped to organize the pilot project and educate her team. Through Karen’s leadership, the pilot project has grown to include the creation of communication workshops, educational tools for staff training, educational resources about feline preventative healthcare and environmental needs for new cat owners and families visiting the shelter, and a new Cat Healthy Adoption Specialist certification program.