For those of you who missed the hashtags all over social media last week,  the 29th of October was officially #NationalCatDay. Not only did this give millions of people excuses to post endearing pictures, GIFS, and cat videos online, one creative company jumped aboard the kitty-bandwagon. Uber, (the business that is giving taxicabs a run for their money) launched a campaign allowing their members to request instant kitty-playtime sessions. Uber’s initiative, called UberKITTENS, was designed to help raise awareness for shelter cats in order to promote pet adoption. In the United States, over 3 million cats are admitted into rescue homes and shelters every year. Tragically, only 35% of the shelter cats are adopted, while rest are either returned to their owners or are euthanized.

How did UberKITTENS work?

A registered Uber user in any of the 50 cities involved would be able to request a kitten drop-off at their home or office. Kitten-playtime was then available for 15 minute increments, and thereafter the individual would have the option to adopt the cat if he chose to do so. For the so-called “snuggle-fee” Uber would charge was $30 for the 15 minutes of play.  The service was offered from 11am to 3 pm on October 29th, in the hopes that the lunch hour would optimize the chances of people requesting kitty play time. The UberKITTENS campaign occured in Los Angeles, San Francisco,  Las Vegas, New York City, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Boise, Washington D.C., Toronto, Montreal and many others.

(Uber kitties visit a radio station.)

How effective was UberKITTENS?

The campaign to provide accessible kitty-playtime certainly would have been considered a success in several ways. First of all, neglected kittens would have a chance to be socialized, handled and mentally stimulated by the play sessions, which are an integral part of a cat’s early development. People’s lives would be brightened with a delightful interval of feline interaction in the midst of their busy work days and stressful offices.  Since we know that playing with cats is scientifically proven to make us happier (petting animals increases our “feel good” hormones such as oxytocin), this pastime would be beneficial. That is, if the campaign did at least get the cats to the users that requested them. Unfortunately, while this idea certainly seems an inspiring way to promote pet adoptions, there were many people who claimed that the kitty-time they requested never occurred.  While Uber was careful to encourage people to send a request early on, and to be patient, the amount of people whose kitty-request was never answered far outweighed those that were. One representative from the meme website company called Cheezburger Network told Business Insider that after crunching numbers, they calculated that one Uber user’s chance of getting to enjoy the kitty-playtime offered that day, was about the same chance as winning the lottery. Those are disheartening odds. That said, according news agencies such as CNN and Business Insider, roughly 20-30 kittens have been adopted through UberKITTEN. Even though the numbers are small and the realities of the campaign were disappointing, at least a few dozen more kitties are in good homes.

Here is one family who was lucky enough to “win the lottery” for kitty-playtime!