When you have an abundance of kitties that need homes, you need to be creative when advocating for them. Finding ways to promote the cats in your care can mean the difference between a loving, permanent home for your adoptable cats or months spent languishing in a cage.
Hold an Event
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Hold an unusual cat adoption event above and beyond the conventional adoptathon. For example, open your shelter one Friday evening after-hours and keep it open until every cat has a home. This marathon event will be a catalyst for you to alert the media and have them cover not only your event, but also the cats in your care. Getting their fuzzy faces on the news and on media websites will go a long way toward promoting the cats in your shelter. Give your event a creative name such as "Dusk to Dawn Feline Fever" or "After-Hours Cat Craze." Ask pet-friendly apartment managers to promote your event through flyers posted throughout the apartment complex, and post flyers at pet supply stores and other businesses around town.
Radio, Web and Television
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Take your message to the airwaves and get a popular radio show host, disk jockey, television personality or local celebrity to talk about your cats on their show. Arrange to bring a few cats to the show or studio and have the host ask the cats about what they are looking for in a home, their feelings about dogs and kids, what they like to eat and their favorite pastimes. Have the host ask where they came from and make up creative answers, or discuss the breed's country of origin such as Siamese from Siam and Scottish folds from Scotland. Have a script ready of clever questions and answers and ask the audience to call in with questions for the feline guest of the day.
Find a Feline Friend
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Ask your shelter volunteers, staff and friends to select one cat in the shelter to be their special friend. Each person becomes that cat's friend and advocate. The advocate will have photos of the cat with him at all times and will do everything he can to find a home for his appointed cat. It will be as if the cat is the advocate's own cat for whom he is trying to find a suitable home. Run a contest and offer a prize to the advocate who finds a home for his cat first, or who finds a home for the most cats using this method. Waive or lower the adoption fee to make it easier for your advocates to find suitable homes.
The Personal Ad
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Place a personal ad on your shelter's Facebook page or Twitter account or set up a special account for adoptable cats. Use clever wording such as "Meezer geezer (older Siamese) searching for elderly caretaker with whom he can spend his twilight years. Loves tuna, long naps in the sun and discussing the pros and cons of soft treats versus crunchy ones." Add several photos of the cat in endearing positions such as rolling on his back, stretching full-body vertically or sleeping in a ray of sunlight. Ask a professional photographer to take the photos so as to really grasp the cat's personality and features.
Unlike dogs, cats are relatively easy to care for. They can be kept in vertical cat condos and don't need to be walked. Ask local business owners to place cages housing two to three cats, depending on the size of the cage, in their lobbies or places of business. Ask a volunteer to come by daily to clean the litter boxes and check on food and water and recruit a shop employee to keep an eye on the cats. Better yet, if the office is secure, allow the cat free roam so he can interact with staff and customers. Try for unusual, high-traffic places such as hair and nail salons, grooming shops, insurance sales offices or other places where people are likely to see them. Leave your contact information so you can facilitate the interview and adoption process.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.