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Tips for filling out the Profile Form – the official record for every foster.

Within 5 days

Any animal whose first stop in SOL is at your house needs a basic profile entered. All you need is an animal description and how the animal came into rescue. This becomes the base for the final Profile Form.

Update It!

When you complete a vetting step (deworm, vaccine, etc.), update the paper Medical Tracking Form. Once we move away from Google Forms, you can enter the information directly into the Profile Form as you complete each step.

Submit a Complete Profile

This must be done at least 3 days before alter, or, if the animal is already altered, 3 days before you would like them posted online. This is to allow our team to review and upload the animal to our server by the time it is ready to find a home.

Tips to write the bio or personality paragraph.

The button in each box will show a recommended phrasing sample taken from an actual bio or a link with more information.

Be Honest

Describe the animal as they are.

You don’t have to dwell on imperfections, but they should be noted. Put them in a positive light by highlighting progress that’s been made.

View Sample

“After at least 8 years of making his own way in the world, he would love the chance to be cared for, loved, and safe for the rest of his life.”

This kitty lived on the street his whole life but was not feral. This is a nice way of saying he is a stray.

Highlight Unique Features

Endearing quirk? Adorable markings?

Describe what makes this animal different from all of the others in the world. Why should someone want to add him or her to their family?

View Sample

“Tipsy has a fun quirk – she loves trying to eat people food – so protect your plates at mealtime.”

Her food snatching habit becomes a fun trait when described this way.

Add Humor

Soft puns or funny descriptions work!

Tell a funny story from their time in foster, add an unexpected element, or spell something in a “punny” way. It only needs a sprinkle of humor to be effective.

View Sample

“Yoruichi likes to hunt her toys, siblings, and toes.”

The third one in this list is unexpected, eliciting a chuckle from the reader and creating a memorable picture.

Check dates

Vaccines, especially

Sometimes an animal is due for an update around the time their bio is submitted to be posted. Other times, the animal is almost 4 months old and will need a rabies vaccine to go into PetSmart. Ensure all dates are entered as MM/DD/YYYY. Someone has to go through and adjust that if you don’t. Help where you can.

View Sample

Today’s Date: June 13

FVRCP Dates: May 1, May 16, May 31 

Since vaccines are due every 2 weeks for young kittens, this kitty will need a vaccine tomorrow. Enter it into the record now and be sure to find someone to help you with it ASAP.

Special Characteristics

People sometimes search for a specific breed

Use these documents to help identify your animal, especially if it has exceptional coloring. It covers patterns, colors, length, and anything else you can think of.

Ask for Help

If you are new to this, ask someone to review your write-ups

Mentors love to help with this and will gladly help. There are even fosters who have volunteered to polish up the language and grammar if needed.

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Kitty Preferences

Focus on the positives

If a kitty doesn’t like something, that’s ok. How we phrase it can mean the difference in a quick adoption or not though. The dislikes should be characterized gently. Think about how you would describe the animal if it was an honest but attractive dating profile.

View Sample

Felix would prefer to walk to the couch on his own four feet, rather than be carried there when he’s in the mood to snuggle. If you need him off your counters, though, he’s fine with being set gently on the ground.

Lead with the Good Stuff

Sympathy doesn’t turn lookers into adopters.

It’s tempting to spell out an animal’s harsh reality before coming into rescue. Usually the intent is to elicit the sympathy of the adopter. This works great for raising funds. It is an unsuccessful adoption strategy. Focusing on what the animal will bring to the adopter’s life to enrich it is a much better way of encouraging him or her to fall in love with the animal.

View Sample

Sad Story: Anne was found in a drain pipe with a broken tail and lots of injuries. Then she had her babies and we had to remove her tail. She’s a sweet girl who just wants to cuddle.

Enriching Story: Anne is a newly christened Manx-style kitty who has perfected the art of leaping onto your lap for a cuddle. After seeing her babies off to their new homes, she’s ready to retire from motherhood for good and spend her time relaxing in the great indoors.

Learn More

Tips from other organizations.

We know we don’t know it all. Here are some tips and tricks from other rescues and shelters.


I still don't know what to write!

Check out this list of phrases that expand on a kitty’s personality trait. Go to and read some bios of pets posted there. Pay attention to the language of the ones that you remember. What made them stand out? What did you notice about the language?


What if I think my kitties are a bonded pair?

Truly bonded pairs are rare. While a lot of kitties prefer a friend of their own species, it is uncommon to find 2 cats who are linked beyond friendship. Please read about bonded pairs and how to identify and submit them in this document. 


I'm a terrible speller!

We all have our strengths. If yours isn’t grammar and vocabulary, that’s fine. We have fosters who love to tweak profiles. Post on the Facebook page and ask for help. Then send your bio link to whomever you think can help. They’ll send back suggestions you can review. Add what makes sense to you.


I'm a volunteer and something on the card is inaccurate.

 Message Jeanne Loop and Karen Ortiz. Let them know what is wrong or needs updating. Maybe now that the kitty is in PetSmart, different traits are appearing. We value your insights on our animals!


I don't have all of the information because someone else fostered my animal before me and did stuff without writing it down.

Mentors will come to your rescue! Your mentor will be able to put you in contact with the previous foster in most cases. If not, they can usually help you piece together the missing information.


Contact your mentor! This is why we assign someone to help you. No question is too small or too silly to ask. The team managing adoptions can find a family for your foster animal sooner if errors are caught before submission.

Profiles Email

Use if you need to send in details or answer questions the team has about your animal. You can also email images to this address if they can’t be directly uploaded.

How To Take Great Photos

Updated 3/31/2022

These are all great photos. In each one, the cat is clearly visible with minimal background distraction. Eyes are in focus. Personality can be seen in expressions. Lighting is balanced.

Elements of a Great Photo:
  • Plain, non-cluttered background.
    • Take a minute to clear the area around the animal before taking photos.
    • Get on the same level as the animal by raising them or lowering your camera. Cat trees are great for this!
    • Avoid having litter related items in the photo. Taking a photo in a bathroom? Cover the toilet with a blanket that drapes to the floor and keep the toilet paper roll out of the shot.
  • People should not be identifiable in the image (no faces).
    • A person holding the animal is great.
    • The animal snuggled up to another living creature is fine too, as long as it is clear who is available for adoption.
  • Well lit.
    • Take photos during the day when possible.
    • Turn on every light source.
    • Avoid using the flash whenever possible. (It creates weird shadows and highlights an animal’s green lens.)
    • Do not put the animal between you and the window. Instead, place the animal parallel to the window and allow the light to shine on their face as you photograph them. You can also put yourself between the window and the animal. has a great video on how to set up a window shot.
    • Black cats are hard to photograph. Light is your friend. Pick a sunny day, find a window that is bright but not in direct sunlight (facing a covered porch is great), and rearrange furniture to put a table or large surface next to the window.
  • Animal must be in focus.
    • Most other things can be adjusted. (Dark is preferred over blurry.)
    • They move fast. Photograph them when they are tired from a long play session or after a big meal.
    • Take them from the foster room if at all possible and photograph each one on its own.
  • Capture the animal in action or doing what they love.
    • Have someone play with a wand above the camera. Use both ends of the wand! Start with it close to the animal and draw it up and away from them. Start snapping when they raise their eyes to follow it.
    • Take a photo when they are on your lap.
    • Take a photo when they are doing something cute.
  • Clearly see the animal’s face.
    • Make sure one photo is a headshot.
    • If the animal is making eye contact with the camera, that’s even better. Use silly sounds to get them to look towards the camera.
    • Eyes should be narrow not dilated in fear, ears should be forward, animal should look interested and not scared if possible.
  • Send a variety of up to 6 photos for the team to choose from.
    • Be sure to send a variety of poses and backgrounds whenever possible.
    • When in doubt, go to PetFinder and browse the cats. Note what is different about the photos that capture your attention. There are thousands of cats to choose from and most people start their search online. Make sure your cat has a great first impression!
    • Take A LOT of photos and delete anything blurry. If you don’t have a reaction to the photo, no one else will either. The ones you send should elicit aww, or laughs, or wow from the viewer. Shoot until you get the shot and delete the rest! Be brutal in your culling.

What do you think of this image?

Check your answer

This photo isn’t too bad, but one change could make a huge difference. The image is backlit, drawing your eye to the white spot at the top corner. The cat is shadowed and hard to see with a strange glare on its head. Going to the other side of the cat tree and taking the photo with the sun on the cat’s face or off to the side would result in a much better photo.

What do you think of this image?

Check your answer

This is a great photo. The cat is the first thing your eye “sees”, the colors are bright but not too white, the kitty is looking at the camera, and the background is simple.

What do you think of this image?

Check your answer

The cat in the photo is well lit and has a great expression. It’s difficult to photograph black kitties since their fur soaks up the light. However, the background is distracting. Cropping it to help disguise the nature of the items behind the cat would help. Play around with crop sizes to see the difference before submitting your photos.

What do you think of this image?

Check your answer

This is a better background for the photo. The kitty is well-lit with the light from the window to the side, eyes are open (although the image is just a bit blurry), and the cat is nicely framed within the image.

Identifying Types of Cats

Updated 3/31/2022

Using consistent language for colors and coat patterns will help your animal get adopted sooner. Each of these images will help you identify your cat. Click to view full-sized.


Tortie or Calico?

Determining Calico or Tortoiseshell is one of the hardest calls to make. Tap here to check out this site from Cole and Marmalade and see if it helps you describe your kitty more accurately.

It’s important to know which color pattern your kitty has. Adopters have preferences and often search by coat style. Siamese kittens, those with white fur and colored “points” are highly sought after. Take the time to learn the difference between a Tortoiseshell and and Calico. They have very different personalities as adults and those who want a Tortie want their particular quirks. If you’re not sure, ask! We are happy to help identify your kitty or at least provide a consensus on how it should be listed. Tuxedos are often quickly adopted, so mislabeling a “Tuxie” as a Van could keep an adopter from finding it.

Putting your animal up for adoption

Updated 5/29/2022

We know it can be hard to say good-bye to these little lives that you have invested your time, energy, and love into. Read this section for tips on how to get through it.


Trust the Process

Our adoption coordinator works full time, plus some, thoroughly examining every adopter. She has an incredible track record of finding ideal placements. Adopters must share a wide variety of very personal information and it is checked against publicly available records if warranted. Every animal meets with a potential adopter under the supervision of an adoption facilitator. This person has been trained to watch for warning signs when meeting an adopter and is empowered to cancel an adoption for any reason. 

PetSmart is Good for Them!

We know it seems strange to ask you to take them from your home with all that space to run around and put them in a kennel in a busy store. We wouldn’t ask you to do it if it didn’t directly benefit the animals we pledged to care for. We have an entire team of more than 100 volunteers whose role in our rescue is to come in and play with our foster animals while they are in PetSmart. Shy animals blossom with the variety of fun interactions they get with these volunteers and the volunteers are very quick to notice when a PetSmart kitty needs a break for any reason. The customers walking by love to see the kitties and very often adopters are people who fell in love with “that kitty in the window”. These adopters must go through the same vetting that online adopters do, eliminating impulsive adopting that could result in a poor placement for the kitty. 

It’s OK to Cry

Every foster has shed a tear or two (or more!) saying good-bye to a beloved foster animal. If you didn’t pour your love into raising them, they wouldn’t know how wonderful humans are and how to bond with their forever family. If you are attending an adoption for one of your animals, we ask that you please step away from the adoption if you feel yourself unable to hold back the tears, though. This is a happy occasion for the new family and we want them to be excited about what comes next, not feeling like they’re taking part of your family. If you are settling them into a PetSmart kennel, let the tears flow if you need to! Get your snuggles in and remind them to pick out the best family as they watch the customers. If you’d like, you can even train to be a volunteer and take a shift at the center to really see how well the kitties are spoiled while they’re at PetSmart.