A steady stream of people flowed into the Catalyst building at the Haymarket on August 17 for Pawlytics’ Pawp Up Kitten Adoption. Children tugged on the hands of parents and demanded to hold the kittens. Adults asked about kitten demeanor and adoption prices. Some asked whether the kittens would get along with other pets. Smiles abounded in response to the playful antics of the kittens. Even though no kittens were adopted at the event, Lizz Whitacre expressed delight at the “fantastic turnout.”
Whitacre is the founder of Pawlytics, a company that created management software for rescue groups and shelters, and the organizer of the Pawp Up Kitten Adoption. For several weeks prior to the event, Whitacre promoted it heavily via social media. She also promoted it on TV (1011 News).
While the Kitten Adoption Pawp Up was timed to coincide with the launch of Pawlytics’ software, it was also an attempt to promote the three solutions that Whitacre believes are needed for Lincoln to become a no-kill city.
- Increase cat and kitten adoptions
- Reduce and prevent cat overpopulation through Trap Neuter Release (TNR)
- Keep cats and kittens in homes by providing education and resources
On hand to draw attention to TNR efforts was Melissa Money-Beecher, the founder of Joining Forces Saving Lives, whose goal is to lower the shelter intake of cats. Her small volunteer team arrived before the event armed with kittens in foster care and need of adopters. In addition to setting up wire kennels to contain the lively kittens, volunteers erected a table to hold informational pamphlets and a volunteer sign-up sheet.
Pawlytics invited me (Allison Helps Cats) to serve as a local cat expert to provide education to cat owners. As this would be my first table event, I pulled out all the stops. I had a large banner professionally printed with the expectation that I’d have repeat tabling opportunities. Although I’d previously designed promotional flyers, I decided a brochure would be more informational and so set about creating one. Not wanting to limit the print quality of my brochures, I called up local printer Aldis Augstums, who offered me low prices and a fast turnaround. I also converted five cat behavior articles of mine into free handouts, which are now downloadable as PDFs at Lincoln Pet Culture. Finally, to encourage adoptions, I printed several 20% off coupons for my consulting services, which I intended to give out to anyone who adopted a kitten at the event.
Before the event ended, Money-Beecher had run out of her business cards, answered several inquiries about available kittens, and found a few prospective volunteers. As for me, I had given out about twenty business cards, brochures, and kitten care handouts. A couple of people even picked up my information on their own and signed up for my mailing list. I also distributed a handout on senior cat care to a few people.
In the aftermath of the event, we all felt it had been worthwhile but that were ways it could be improved. This being Whitacre’s first time holding a kitten adoption event, she saw it as a learning opportunity. “I definitely have some ideas for what I would do in the future,” said Whitacre.
Money-Beecher felt the location itself could have been more visible or better advertised. Everyone on the Joining Forces Saving Lives crew had struggled to find the Catalyst building. Soon after their arrival, they had set about creating signs with instructions for finding the Catalyst building, to be displayed nearby. In addition, a few of them had directly approached people at the nearby Farmer’s Market with invites to the event.
Pawp Up Kitten Adoption was a learning experience for me too, and I have a few ideas about how to improve my next tabling event. Some have to do with logistics. For example, spreading all my materials out on a table is information overload. Next time, I’ll put essentials into a bag that I give to each person as they walk in the door. I’ll also avoid high-pressure sales tactics and will make my coupons more accessible. Instead of requiring adopters to ask for a coupon, I will include one in the bag as a thank you to anyone who attends. At the same time, to avoid the one-size-fits-all mentality, I should ask people what their needs are and then provide them with the relevant handouts.
My other ideas have to do with confidence. When I first arrived at the event, I waited at my table with the expectation that attendees would come to me. Beecher instead mingled with attendees, and I quickly decided to follow her example. At one point Whitacre caught me off guard by asking me on video to give advice to first-time cat owners. My mind went blank. Although I recovered enough to recommend “socialization,” I should have been prepared for on-the-spot questions. Bottom line, I need to better embrace my role as a local cat expert.
Two weeks have now passed since Pawlytics’ Pawp Up Kitten Adoption During that time I’ve been setting up a mailing list and taking care of other logistics, which I’ll talk about in future articles. Whitacre and her company are “working hard on pushing the Trap Neuter Return software forward so we can be even more impactful with saving cats and kittens.” Finally, Beecher is continuing to trap, neuter, and release feral cats. She’s also placing kittens in foster homes and seeking out adopters.
Please reach out to any of Whitacre, Money-Beecher, and me, if you’d like to be more involved with helping cats.