Categories are a way to manage your animals on dimensions that are mutually exclusive (meaning can only be one at a time). There are four types of categories: behavior, medical, adoption, and volunteer. If you currently use something like collar color or stickers on kennel cards to dictate which volunteers can work with which animals, or if your vets are maintaining a whiteboard of animals, you are already doing something like this.
You can use these categories to help you segment your animal population and make it simpler to track. Effective use of categories will take a lot of pressure off your attribute list, if you are able to choose mutually exclusive (meaning one at a time) groups within each category type.
- Adoption (how experienced of an adopter an animal needs): easy, moderate, experienced
- Volunteer (level of training or experience needed to handle this animal): green, red, orange, blue (collar color)
- Medical (level of medical care an animal requires; easy way to mark animals so that special attention can be paid to those that need it): requires routine vet care, known condition, healthy
- Behavior (to help manage social time or staff resources): easy, difficult, danger
So one animal might be marked as in the medium adoption category, green volunteer category, healthy medical category, and easy behavior category all at once. But because types within each category are mutually exclusive, an animal couldn't be in both the green volunteer category AND the red volunteer category.
You can create whatever values you want for the groups in each category, the above are just examples. The groups should be useful for your organization’s needs and should correspond to however you currently categorize animals.
These aren’t meant to replace status. Rather these are meant to provide additional information about an animal beyond what status does. Not all organizations will find categories useful - they’re really meant for more advanced population management.