My One-Woman Mission to Get Garfield Out of the Shelter and Into the Spotlight

Garfield at the North Shore Animal league
Photo: Buzzfeed

After 39-pound cat Meow made the rounds on the news and later passed away, I realized how quickly and easily the news of a hefty kitty could spread on the internet. As a volunteer for a rescue group that pulls cats from the New York City high-kill shelter, rehabilitates them and finds homes for them, I noticed a saddening trend.  The interest in the larger cats on the Pets on Death Row facebook page, which posts the nightly euthanasia lists, and the rescue group’s own portly cats in foster care, was disproportionately small. (See my previous post: Plus-Sized Pets Need Love Too). If people love fat cats so much on the internet, how can we harness that interest and translate it into increased adoptions?

The minute I saw Garfield’s intake photo on Pets on Death Row – and weight of 40.5 pounds – at the Brooklyn ACC, I knew that news outlets, and hopefully adopters, would be interested in him. A reporter from a local news site was interested in running the story, but then Garfield was rescued by the North Shore Animal League on Long Island. Still, I sent his photo and information to an editor at Paw Nation, PeoplePets, Jezebel, and later in a comment on the New York Post article about a 33-pound cat named SpongeBob. I also tweeted about him and posted him on my tumblr cat blog and Facebook page.

Garfield’s photos went viral and Buzzfeed did a fabulous photo shoot with him at the shelter! So far I have seen Garfield mentioned in the following places online:

Paw NationNY PostDaily MailGothamistJezebelABC NewsUPIBuzzfeedPeoplePetsNY Daily NewsMSNBC, Neatorama

I think the story really took off thanks to Paw Nation’s coverage.  Garfield’s weight truly saved him and now he’s a celebrity. What I hope people who read these articles realize  is that there are PLENTY of deserving shelter pets where Garfield came from – visit NYCACC.org – and lots of chubby ones especially, who deserve love and proper care (and healthy food and exercise so they can lose weight!).

Update: Today Beth Ostrosky Stern brought Garfield onto Good Day New York with Rosanna Scotto! Here’s an adorable photo she posted on twitter: https://twitter.com/BethStern/status/210002796395773953/photo/1

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