Pictures of sad shelter cats and interesting bios improve chance of adoption

This post was inspired by ex-shelter cat ‘Fishtopher’ who was a long-term resident at the Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center in Blackwood, New Jersey, USA. The picture got him out of there. Not that it is a bad place. But it is shelter and shelters are not great places for cats or dogs. Too noisy and too many strangers for cats and banged up in a cage.

Pictures of sad shelter cats tend to go viral and enhance chance of adoption
Pictures of sad shelter cats tend to go viral and enhance chance of adoption. Picture: Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

His photo which captured the expression of sad, vulnerable cat tugged at the heartstrings of viewers on the Petfinder website where he was described as a “Domestic Short Hair & Bengal Mix, Adult Male Medium Tabby (Brown/Chocolate)”.

Well, I am not sure that he is a Bengal Mix. I don’t think he is because he looks like a standard tabby cat to me but I would not be surprised if his advert was glossed up a bit to get him adopted.

Here is an associated page about writing shelter cat bios:

Bio for shelter cat named Dave is imaginative and attractive

But the key was the picture which when combined with the following words went viral. When a shelter cat goes viral he/she is not going to remain a shelter cat for long. The power of a social media viral spread is awesomely effective.

These are the words:

“Fishtopher is not a fish out of water, but he is out of sorts at the shelter. He is very sad and depressed and will only eat when he has company. Five-year-old Fishtopher was found as a stray, maybe he is missing his family. Fishtopher reminds you of a Bengal with his cool coloring. He is a sweet, easy-going, laid-back boy. Fishtopher loves being pet and is an affectionate boy. He wouldn’t even look up for pictures, but did enjoy his one-on-one attention, and getting chin rubs. Fishtopher is a big cheeky boy, wouldn’t you love rubbing up on those big cheeks? He loves cuddling up in arms, it seems to make him feel secure. We feel that Fishtopher would do best in a quieter home. Please come rescue our big loveable boy!”

And then in caps from the shelter:


Is there a moral behind this good news cat story? Yes, think of Nathan Winograd and his No Kill Advocacy Center. He promotes the concept of using all means possible to minimise relinquishments to shelters and maximise adoptions from them.

In using all the ammo that a shelter can muster saves lives. It requires an enlightened approach and a desire not to brand cats that are difficult at shelters as unadoptable. They are not difficult, just scared and depressed. They are vulnerable to humankind’s mismanagement.

Perhaps a good starting point is a good photograph which shows the cat as vulnerable. This tweaks the mothering and fathering instincts of people. It is important to tweak that sentiment because the relationship between cat and caregiver is often one of child to parent.

Let’s hope that Fistopher has a contented rest of life where he no longer looks sad and vulnerable but happy and confident.

The story was featured in The New York Post.

Gentle petting and speaking to shelter cats reduces stress, improves their health and adoptability

Christmas in Heaven: ‘Written’ by a shelter cat with only hours left to live

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