Store Cats – Less is More
I was just tidying up Petfinder – removing the cats who have been recently adopted. It’s interesting that most of them were from stores, and most of those were at the shelter for weeks, sometimes months before being transferred to a store. Then they were adopted within a week! Why?
We have some great adoption counselors at our offsite Petco locations at Robinson, Bethel Park, North Hills, Waterfront and Waterworks. And that is certainly a good part of the reason. They really get to know the cats they have at the stores and are able to help people zero in on the right cat for their home. Also at some of our more outlying stores we have a different clientele – people who do not want to come into the main shelter and the store cats are the only place to shop, so they’re motivated.
But the ASPCA has an interesting theory that might also explain a good part of why the stores do so well. An article by Dr. Emily Weis, VP Research & Development for the ASPCA tells the whole story, but the bottom line is that research seems to show that if customers have fewer choices, they adopt more cats! How cool is that?
A shelter in Colorado found a spiffy way to cover some windows into their cat areas, blocking 40% of their adoptable cats from view. For two weeks they collected data on the transition rate – the number of people who visited and actually adopted. They found that the transition rate doubled over the rate for the previous two weeks. Research is ongoing and more shelters will be involved in testing in the future, but results look very promising.
At our Cat Adoption Center, visitors are invited by the adoption counselors to look around. By the time they’ve visited half the cages in the main room, read a half dozen kennel papers, their eyeballs start spinning in two different directions. And they still haven’t seen the kitten room or the two colony rooms! If volunteers are there, we step in to help them narrow down their choices. But over and over I hear “I’m just overwhelmed. How do you choose?” It can take a lot of finesse to help people decide and not just go home and “think about it.” I’m sure this is happening at shelters all over the country, especially this time of the year.
At the stores, potential adopters are looking at maybe a dozen cats at most, with some of the stores having fewer. It gives the shy cats a way to be seen right alongside the outgoing cats. It gives an opportunity for one black cat to shine, instead of competing with a dozen black cats at the shelter. A number of the recent adoptions have been black cats.
Even though the numbers are fewer at the stores, the variety is great. The counselors make an effort to select both genders, different colors, sizes, ages and temperaments for their stores.