The most important aspect of running a rescue or shelter is finding good homes for the animals you’re looking after. Keeping adoptable pets moving means there’s always room to save one more.
So how do you go about getting more cats adopted? We have some simple and easy tips you can do (most of them are free!) to help boost the rate of kitties heading to their forever homes. The truth is, this is almost like marketing. Think of it like a business and market your paws.
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1. If you have cages, pair up the kitties
Especially kittens! Many people go in looking for one cat, but have a hard time leaving a sibling or BFF behind in the cage. How can you adopt just one of them and leave her buddy? He’ll be so sad. Plus, with a friend in the cage, the cats will likely be more active and happier –- and so, more adoptable!
It also helps to explain that kittens do better with friends, especially in a home where the owner isn’t around all day. Don’t let someone adopt one without at least offering why they might consider another.
2. Make business cards for the cats
People come to meet kitties and often don’t decide right away. They go home and think it over, trying to figure out which would be the perfect match for their families. Give them a little something to remember by having business cards!
Include a nice picture of the cat, his name, ID number, and a little about him –- his story, age, personality, favorite toys, whether he gets along with other cats,. Be sure to also include contact information for your shelter or rescue.
People tend to hang on to these, so they have a constant reminder that other sweet babies are waiting for them. And if they don’t adopt another cat, maybe someone else who sees the card might.
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3. Have a warm, comfortable “meet and greet” place to sit
Whether the cats are in cages or free roaming at the shelter, it helps to have a nice bench or meeting room where a potential adopter can have some time with her potential new kitty. Even just a wood bench with a few pillows or cushions will do.
Some people will choose a cat quickly based on looks alone, but encouraging adopters to sit with the kitties and really get to know and cuddle them can go a long way to helping them fall in love. The most perfect kitty may just need a little one-on-one time to shine and convince someone they are perfect.
4. Make your voicemail from a cat
When someone calls your shelter or rescue and gets your voicemail, why not make it from one of the cats?
“Hi, none of the humans can come to the phone right now, so please leave a message. By the way, this is Callie. I’m about four years old and as fluffy and friendly as I can be, and I really hope that you’ll tell them in your message that you want me to live with you. Tell them, tell them! Okay, thanks. Hopefully I’ll see you later.”
I bet they’ll ask about Callie when they come in! Hat tip to Petfinder for this tip. Love it!
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5. Have creative events to showcase your cats
Can’t seem to get those black cats, tuxies, or tabbies adopted as quickly as the “fancy” cats? Put them in the spotlight and give them their chance to shine!
Hold a Black Cat Ball at your shelter (black tie, of course) and dress up for the occasion –- and dress up the kitties, too. Give them sparkly collars (if they’ll wear them) and spruce the place up with sparkly decorations. Black cats and tuxies only!
Or why not have a Tabby Chic party? Get your tabbies all fancied up and stage their cages with a decorator’s touch. A little bit of pretty fabric for drapes, lovely linens on their beds, stylish stuffed animals, and collars to match each one’s décor, of course. Tabbies have style!
Events like these can be done with almost no budget and are great at spreading the word to get people to come in.
6. Decorate the cages
Speaking of being fancy, why not decorate your cats’ cages with each cat in mind? Instead of newspaper, use towels to make the place more homey. If they have green eyes, use green towels to show them off. Make sure there are a few toys in the cages to not only keep your cats happy, but also make them look even cuter surrounded by adorable stuffed animals.
You can also decorate your adoption room. Paint the walls a warm, inviting color and play soft music in the background. Add a few cozy places to sit and some nice pictures on the walls of current and past cat residents. Create a little slice of heaven that people will want to come visit again and again.
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7. Blog about the cats
Even if you think you don’t have a single spare second, blogging about the cats can boost interest in them, especially the shy ones who don’t “sell themselves” when adopters come in.
You know the cats better than anyone, so write up quick posts with pictures and what they do every day. Even just a quick, fun post each day will help people fall in love. Did Cleopatra cuddle up with another cat for the first time today? Maybe Jezebel discovered that there is nothing more exciting than her feather toy.
If you have litters of kittens, introduce them and keep everyone updated with new pics as they grow up. There is nothing that will go viral faster than adorable kittens. And even if those particular kitties are no longer available when people call or come in, others will be.
Don’t keep your cats hiding in your adoption room — get them on the Internet.
8. Make your Petfinder descriptions unique and fun
Don’t just give age and sex and how adopters should contact you –- get creative. Make your cats stand out from the crowd.
Tell people things they wouldn’t know from just looking at a picture. Do the cats talk a lot, love to crawl into your lap, play like a maniac, or relax calmly all day?
If a cat’s purr motor kicks into overdrive every time someone approaches, tell people! If a cat clearly missed her calling as a baker because all she wants to do is knead and make biscuits, tell people! A few extra words can be all someone needs to fall in love.
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9. Have specials and offers to boost adoptions
In February, announce that “Love is in the air,” and offer a special when adopting a pair of kitties. To get more black cats adopted, create signs that say, “Everything goes well with black!” and tell people they can adopt a black cat for free with any other cat adoption. Advertise a “retirement homes needed” campaign for senior kitties just looking for a place to rest their paws and relax.
The point is, get creative. Do more than just dollar-off specials. Make them fun and unique to draw more attention.
10. Don’t forget the basics
As always, don’t forget the usual list of must-haves: Keep the shelter clean and fresh-smelling (change linens and scoop promptly!). Take beautiful pictures of the cats. Have friendly volunteers and employees who love to share information about the kitties. Make sure the cats are healthy, and separate sick ones if necessary. Have a Facebook page and post often, and respond promptly to email inquiries and phone calls.
Also, give the cats names, not just ID numbers.
Have any more suggestions? I’d love to hear them in the comments. Let’s get some kitties some homes!
Photo: Friendly tuxedo cat by Shutterstock