If left to their own devices, cats can reproduce at alarming rates, producing up to 36 kittens every 16 months. Sadly, a large percentage of those kittens end up in animal shelters. And while some do eventually find a new home, many more face the cruel fate of euthanasia.
To fight the problem of cat overpopulation, animal rights organisation GAIA felt the government's 'Cat Plan' wasn’t quite hitting the mark. It was a good start but definitely not the final solution. What was needed was more long-term measures like compulsory sterilisation. And the time to act was now!
FAMOUS Relations was therefore asked to help raise awareness for the problem amongst government MPs and the wider public, spreading the message that compulsory sterilisation was an absolute necessity.
What we did.
Our approach focused on the problem of overpopulation in shelters, which made the need for compulsory sterilisation all the more painfully clear. All we needed was one strong idea that could get the attention not only of the public but above all the bloggers and journalists who have the power to influence government policy.
One incontrovertible fact presented itself: the internet loves cats. And so we transformed one of the internet’s most popular chat sites - Chatroulette – into the perfect medium for adopting cats: Catroulette. Catroulette is a website that works like Chatroulette, but instead of meeting chatters, you get to meet abandoned cats from animal shelters around the country
If you "next" a cat, you may never see it again. Literally. By showing how many times a cat has been "nexted", pressing the next button becomes a real heartbreaker. If you fall in love with a cat, however, you can adopt it on the spot… after sterilisation of course. And, naturally, all would-be adopters need to get in touch with the shelter and get approved as good caretakers.
The campaign was launched with the help of 2 Belgian newspapers who were given an exclusive tour of the participating shelters and exclusive interviews with the shelter owners and GAIA spokesperson, Michel Vandenbossche. Once the articles were published, we sent the Catroulette press release to a broad list of online influencers, journalists and other cat lovers.
What we got.
In a matter of hours, the campaign took off on social media and major (international) blogs. It was also featured on several news broadcasts, newspapers and radio programmes.
All the cats from participating shelters found a new home. And we received multiple requests from cat shelters in France and Russia who also wanted to implement Catroulette.
But, more importantly, the government reopened debate in order to find more long-term solutions to the problem of cat overpopulation. And in fact, today all cats are required to be sterilised whenever they get a new owner.