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Marketing Cat Adoption: Colored Nail Caps and ‘Tuxedo Tuesdays’

The following is from the Summer 2010 issue of Protecting Animals, American Humane’s quarterly journal for animal welfare professionals. Used by permission. To learn more, visit

Colored Nail Caps for Black Cats

By Sharon Adams, Executive Director, Virginia Beach SPCA, Virginia Beach, VA

Our open-admission shelter takes in about 1,800 cats per year, but we do not euthanize them for lack of space thanks to our innovative adoption programs. One of these involves putting colored Soft Claws nail caps on hard-to-adopt cats, including black cats, older cats and very shy cats. We match the colors to the holidays and seasons, such as orange for Halloween, red, white and blue for July 4, red and green for Christmas, and pastels for spring. This has definitely been a fun, humane and successful way to draw attention to these cats. Potential adopters notice the nail caps, stop to ask questions and want to see the cat, which usually leads to adoption!

We will not adopt a cat to anyone who wants to declaw it. Instead, we use nail caps to educate people about why declawing is inhumane and to demonstrate a humane alternative, including:

– Counseling on directing the cat’s scratching instinct toward appropriate surfaces, and methods to deter it from scratching furniture and carpets, and

– Free Soft Claws application for the life of the cat. The adopter must purchase the Soft Claws, and the shelter staff will then apply them at no additional charge for the lifetime of the cat. Although this is optional, it makes a huge difference for many people who are reluctant to adopt a cat due to concerns for their furniture.

We also have fun, interactive programs throughout the year to promote adoptions of adult cats. The “March Madness” promotion gave adopters three chances to shoot baskets, and each time they made a basket, they got $10 off a cat adoption.

Tuxedo Tuesdays and December Sing-Along/Funny Hat Specials

Jean McGroarty, Executive Director of the Kokomo Humane Society, Kokomo, IN

We promote Tuxedo Tuesdays during the holiday season, when the fee for black-and-white cats is reduced (an offer extended to gray cats if requested). Also in December, anyone who comes into the shelter wearing a Santa hat or reindeer antlers, or who sings a holiday song, gets a discounted adoption fee for cats and dogs.

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