When the story of the little guys scrape with death, and of the New York Animal Care & Control officer who rescued him, hit the media in July, it sparked a huge public outcry and resulted in 140 adoption applications for the Russian Blue look-alike, who had been dubbed Verrazano by AC&C staff.
And the winner was actress Whoopi Goldberg, who had fallen in love with the little guy when he made an appearance on the TV show The View, where she is one of the hosts.
As the cameras rolled and the news of the famous actress’s adoption of the famous kitten spread around the world, I was happy that little Verrazano — who has now been renamed Vinny — had found a good, loving home. But I couldnt help thinking about all the other not-so-famous cats still waiting at AC&C and other shelters, most of whom have only a few days to find a family before theyre killed to make way for the next wave in the never-ending flood of unwanted felines.
I wonder how many of the other 139 potential adopters ended up going to the AC&C shelter to find another cat companion when they learned that the world-famous survivor had found his forever home. I hope a lot of them did, but somehow Im not so sure.
I also wonder whether Whoopi plans to use the bully pulpit of her fame and her high-profile rescue to encourage people to go out and adopt cats of their own.
Those of us involved in animal rescue — whether by adopting our own cats, donating to animal charities, volunteering with our local shelters, spreading the news about cats in need, or going all-out to start our own sanctuaries and transport kittens across several states to get them out of high-kill shelters — could really use a powerful spokesperson like her to bring attention to the desperate need for adopters and support for local shelters.
Will Whoopi consider using her recent brush with kitty-adoption fame to speak on behalf of the no-kill movement or trap-neuter-return programs? Would she lend her voice to encourage people to adopt adult cats, special-needs cats, or black cats?
I sincerely hope she does. Millions of animals waiting in shelters, thousands of small rescues desperate for donations and other support, and community cat caretakers all over the country, would love to know that she stands with them.
I know Whoopi isnt as famous for her philanthropy as, say, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates. I dont have any idea where her philanthropic interests lie, or if shes even interested in joining the cause of cats in need. But if shes willing to bring a tiny kitten who almost lost his life at the hands of a callous individual into the spotlight by adopting him, then if nothing else, shes leading by example. As far as I’m concerned, thats a darn good start.