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Messaging That’s Making a Difference: Don’t Kit-Nap the Kittens!

May 7, 2020, The Association

Yes, we’re faced with a pandemic—and yes, it’s still kitten season. Yet you’ve likely got a new powerful resource in your toolkit—the current and potential foster homes in your community. Here’s some inspo, courtesy of Arizona Humane Society (AHS) and their Don’t Kit-Nap Kittens campaign. You can use this messaging to educate and rally your community, and to continue to keep healthy animals out of the shelter.

What saves kitten lives? AHS is seeing exceptional results with their Don’t Kit-nap Kittens campaign, combining front-line efforts with a robust marketing strategy. Since the program began in 2017, AHS reports a 20% decrease in kitten intake and a 35% increase in live release rate, while length of stay for kittens fell by 18%.

The cornerstone of the program is simple and clear messaging to the public, letting the community know what to do if they come across a litter of kittens:

Don’t Kit-nap Kittens!

Mom will likely return. Please don’t intervene.

  • When we find a litter of kittens, our good-hearted instincts tell us to rush to the aid of these fragile felines. Thankfully, human intervention is typically not required. In fact, the best thing we can do is leave the kittens alone.
  • Mom will likely return shortly, and it’s critical that the kittens remain in her care as she offers the best chance for survival.
  • If you find kittens and are extremely certain that they are orphaned, you can then step in and help by caring for the kittens until they’re old enough to find homes.

AHS also developed talking points for use at their Pet Resource Center. Trained specialists have open conversations with Good Samaritans who call and come to the shelter with kittens they’ve found:

I found these kittens, what do I do?!

  • Thank you so much for coming in today.
  • Can you tell me a little bit more about what’s going on?
  • Do you think you could care for them until they are eating on their own or for at least a few days until resources become available?
  • Unfortunately, if we find that their quality of life is suffering, we may still have to let these kittens go if we cannot find another outlet.

Of the 528 times AHS pitched the above care-in-place messaging to Good Samaritans who found kittens, in 2018 alone they were able to distribute 120 care-in-place kits (similar to supply kits for foster families, but messaged and packaged especially for community members who may have no experience with young kittens) and keep 324 kittens out of the shelter.

Sound good? You can learn more by watching AHS’ 25-minute recorded webinar, Don’t Kit-nap Kittens. Kate Mayeski, AHS Senior Manager of Surrender Prevention and Intake, and Robby Nisenfeld, Communications Manager, will walk you through the nuts and bolts of this successful program and share samples of the marketing collateral.

Get the recording here

Don’t Kit-nap Kittens webinar
*This webinar is free for Association members and non-members. Non-members will need to create a free “Learning Non-Member” account in order to register.

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.