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How a cat rescue worker created an internet splash with a 'CatVana' adoption campaign

Screenshot of the social post for "Catvana" created by Kayla Delcoure for Pippi's Place.
Pippi's Place
Screenshot of the social post for "Catvana" created by Kayla Delcoure for Pippi's Place.

Carvana promoted itself as a new and innovative way to shop for a car. What if you took that idea and made it work for adopting a pet?

Kayla Delcoure runs social media for Pippi's Place, a cat rescue in Atlanta. She came up with a creative social post inspired by the online used-car retailer to help find its felines new homes.

Those up for adoption include a "2014 Furrari" named Arlis (black exterior, power napping) a "2015 Furcedes" called Buddy (custom grey saddle kit, seat heater) and Cassie, a "2022 Meowzda" (custom multicolor exterior, self-cleaning).

It all started with the search for a truck

"My inspiration for CatVana is humorously uneventful," Delcoure wrote NPR in an email. "My husband has been wanting to buy a truck for months, and occasionally brings me his phone to show me the listings. On Tuesday morning while I was brainstorming cute ways to display all nine of Pippi's Place's available cats in one post, my husband walked into my office to show me a truck listing."

Although Delcoure wasn't super interested in the truck, the image with detailed information about the year, make and model got her creative wheels spinning.

She said she pulled up the Carvana website and modeled a page with multiple cat listings off the car search. "Different amusing descriptions kept popping up in my head, like the 'four-paw-drive', 'rear air vent', and the rest of them, so I went ahead and made the individual listings as well," Delcoure wrote.

Pippi's Place was started two years ago and is named after director Vicki Grizzard's black kitten, who she found abandoned and needing help. She named her Pippi, after the mischievous book character.

Sadly, Pippi the cat passed away following an accident, but Pippi's Place lives on as her legacy. It's a place "where the light of love is always on shining on our loved ones and serving as a beacon to those in need," Delcoure tells NPR.

Kitten season keeps volunteers very busy

"Right now, we're working through kitten season, so we have a high volume of tiny kittens who are too young to be adopted out and some with illnesses and injuries that need to be treated before going to furever homes," Delcoure said. "Our volunteers are working literally around the clock (every four hours) to care for these kittens."

Grizzard thought the CatVana social post was adorable. Delcoure shared the post on Reddit, where it gained 65,000 up votes and has over 1,500 comments. Both Grizzard and Delcoure were awestruck by the response.

"We've received an outpouring of encouragement. People have even been asking to donate," Delcoure says. And the organization has received an adoption application for "Furrari" Arlis, a sweet older cat, from a family in Canada. "They're willing to go through the adoption and transfer process to bring him home!"

Delcoure says her favorite ad is for Mr. Goodbar, "the 2023 Mini Pooper."

"His listing was the last one I needed to create and I knew I wanted it to be something adorable and relative to his size," she said. "I happen to own and adore a Mini Cooper and I knew the 'mini' part would fit him perfectly, so that's what I went with!"

Delcoure said the volunteers who keep Pippi's Place running and make sure all the kittens find homes deserve all the credit.

"We have many more volunteers who work countless hours giving their blood, sweat, and tears for these cats," she wrote. "I wouldn't have anything to post if they weren't doing such an amazing job caring for our kitties."

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Matt Adams
Matt Adams is an Audience Engagement Strategist at NPR, where he is always thinking of how a broadcast company can do more on the internet. His focus is on social media strategy and how to connect NPR with new audiences in creative ways, from community building to social audio.