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Marketing Cat Adoption: ‘Cats Around Town’ and ‘Mommy and Me’

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

‘Cats Around Town!’ Program

By Peggy Weigle, Executive Director of Animal Humane New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM

We shamelessly copied the idea for our Cats Around Town! (CAT!) program from Barbara Carr at the SPCA Serving Erie County in Tonawanda, N.Y. I strongly urge other shelters to do the same, as it has been hugely successful for us!

The CAT! program is based on the fact that people say they acquire a cat because “It was right in front of me,” or “It showed up at my door” or “I got it from a neighbor.” So the idea is to have cats out in public places where people see them during their daily routines. We do this by getting cat-friendly businesses to host one adoptable cat at a time at their location. Right now, we have 11 partners, including a camera shop, a clothing store, and several vet hospitals and pet supply shops. All partners must meet certain guidelines; for instance, they need to have a lot of foot traffic, and somebody must be at the business seven days a week to care for the cat. We provide the cat condo, food and litter, and they provide the daily care.

If someone wants to adopt a cat from one of these locations, the prospective adopter calls our adoptions department and we qualify them over the phone. The retailer then fills out the paperwork and collects the adoption fee. (All cats in the program are already fixed, microchipped and vaccinated.) Once the cat is adopted, our CAT! program manager returns to the business the next day with a new cat, disinfects the cage and the whole process starts over.

From February 2008 through February 2009, we adopted out 140 cats through this program. The majority of the cats adopted have been adults and special-needs cats who probably would have been euthanized without this program. One of our top goals this year is to adopt out 100 percent of our healthy pets – and the CAT! program is definitely one of the key elements in helping us meet that goal.

‘Mommy and Me’ Program

By Tracy Sala, Executive Director of Humane Society of Knox County in Thomaston, ME

When someone is interested in a kitten or two – but doesn’t really have a lifestyle conducive to a kitten left alone or (double trouble) two kittens left alone – we suggest they get an adult cat to help mentor the kitten, teach it how to behave and keep it company. For this Mommy and Me program, kittens are priced at our regular fee ($90) and the adult cat (1 year or older, can be a “daddy”) is half price ($25). It has worked out very nicely, and we get great happy endings with these pairings.

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