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Marketing Cat Adoption: ‘Feline Friends’ and ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ Programs

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

‘Feline Friends’ Cat Sponsorships

By Tim Adams, Executive Director of Young-Williams Animal Center, Knoxville, TN

Last June, we reduced our adoption fee for adult cats from $120 to $75. Then we instituted a program that started out as Feline Friends, which allowed people to sponsor an adult cat adoption by donating its adoption fee. We would pick the cat and then put a special tag on the holding area identifying the cat as “sponsored by” with the sponsor’s name displayed. Adoptions went great. Then dog people wanted to know if they could sponsor dog adoptions, so Feline Friends became Furry Friends.

The sponsorship program has been so wildly popular that we had times during the summer when every adult cat and dog on the adoption floor was sponsored. We extended the program and lowered the price of adult dog adoptions to mirror that of the cats. Both programs were extended to the end of the year, and now have been extended through the end of this June. In 2009, adult cat adoptions were up 50 percent and adult dog adoptions were up 27 percent.

Lonely Hearts Club/’Adopt a Fixed Pet for Free on Spay Day’Promotion

By Jaclyn P. Welles, Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator of The Chemung County Humane Society and SPCA in Elmira, NY

We have a very special cat club called the “Lonely Hearts Club” to showcase the 12 cats who have been at the shelter the longest. During February, we ran a promotion called “Follow Your Heart,” which offered a $28 discount (for the number of days in February) on all members of the Lonely Hearts Club. The club was expanded to include 14 felines in honor of Valentine’s Day. Eight of the 14 cats went to loving, forever homes — a 57 percent success rate and one of our most successful promotions ever!

In celebration of Spay Day 2010, we waived adoption fees on all fixed animals. Nine of the 33 animals that were available under this promotion went home, including seven of our 23 available cats and two dogs.

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