Whether it’s because of behavioral challenges, medical conditions, or the fact that they sometimes have to compete with cute, spunky kittens—especially during kitten season—adult cats often need a little extra promotional boost. Check out these five tips to help your organization market your adult cats effectively.
Focus on Photos and Videos
The photos and videos on your cat’s adoption profile are usually the first things potential adopters see when browsing cats online, so it’s essential to make them as strong as possible. Make sure your photos are clear and engaging and consider hiring a professional photographer or searching within your volunteer pool for someone who has intermediate to advanced camera skills. Try to include both shots of the cat alone and shots of staff or volunteers interacting with the animal. For long-stay cats, you can even consider doing a fun photoshoot that plays on their personality. For example, if you have a cat who can be a little grumpy, consider doing a special photoshoot where you make him appear as an office worker who’s out of coffee.
Videos can be especially helpful for shy cats who may not act the same around unknown potential adopters as they would around a person they are bonded to, so they’re a great way for someone to see what a cat might actually look like in the home. You can even consider utilizing cellphones or iPads for your matchmakers and adoption counselors so that they can have these videos ready to share with in-person adopters or put QR codes that link to good videos on the cat’s kennel.
Make Bios Their Best
It can sometimes be hard to write unique, compelling bios for adult cats, especially the ones who don’t show their true personality in the shelter. Ask foster caregivers, volunteers, and direct care staff for feedback on the cat’s personality, like what toys they enjoy or funny behavioral quirks. These small details help adopters make a personal connection with the cat even before they’ve met them. You can take it one step further by talking about how these details might translate in a home. For example, a cat who loves to curl up in cozy blankets might enjoy taking up half your bed at night or snuggling up next to you on the couch for a movie marathon. Also, consider talking about the animal’s backstory, including where they came from—especially if it pulls on the heartstrings. For fearful cats, consider talking about what behavioral progress they’ve made. This helps potential adopters empathize and understand that the cat may make even more progress in a home.
You can even consider playing up a trait that you might typically downplay, like what Mitchell County Animal Rescue did with “The World’s Worst Cat.”
Take Advantage of Your Foster Program
Foster families know better than anyone how the cat behaves in a home, so take advantage of opportunities to place adult cats into foster care—especially those who don’t do well in the shelter. Not only will foster families be able to give you lots of great details for bios, but it also allows you to conduct virtual meet-and-greets where the cats are less stressed and show their true colors better.
If your organization uses Adoption Ambassadors, encourage your foster families to create personal foster accounts on social media where they can post about and advocate for their cats. This helps get your cats’ names and faces out there without a significant burden on your staff and provides a more personal, peer-to-peer aspect that may help potential adopters feel more comfortable.
It’s easy for adult cats to blend into the pack, so if you have an adult cat who needs an extra promotional push, have a little fun with it. Ask your volunteers or foster families to teach the cat cute tricks, like how to ring a bell, or name the cat after a celebrity whose personality they resemble. Unusual or funny names can draw people to a cat, too.
You can also get creative with other unique ways to get your cats’ faces out to the public. Create a “vision board” for each cat that includes photos of things they might like in their new home—like comfy couches and windows—and put it on their kennel. Create flyers and ask your volunteers to put them up in their neighborhood, and bring the cat to mobile adoption events (if your organization is conducting them and the cat is an appropriate candidate). You can also try reaching out to pet influencers on social media or traditional media outlets and ask them to feature certain cats.
Cat Adoption Team (CAT) in Sherwood, OR, recommends creating campaigns specific to each cat. For example, they’ve previously executed a fun campaign called #FlatRamona, where staff and volunteers took a cutout of the cat outdoors for adventures and posted the photos on social media. CAT also recommends social media takeovers where you devote an entire day or week to promoting one cat.
Prioritize the Cats Who Need It
Identify early on which cats will likely need more promotion based on factors such as behavior, medical conditions, and appearance, and prioritize those cats for promotion as soon as possible.
If your organization posts your animals online manually, you can also consider creating general pages for groups of similar cats, like the ASPCA Adoption Center does with kittens. This frees up time and resources for your staff to focus on marketing harder-to-place adult cats, while also allowing your website visitors to more easily focus on the adults.