International stardom for Belgian cats
When ‘Catroulette’ was launched in early September, the Belgian cats of Catroulette became instant stars worldwide. Thanks to reports in the international press, including Mashable, Ads of The World, The Huffington Post, Der Spiegel, the French TF1, and hundreds of other media, no fewer than 154,000 cat lovers have visited the internet hit www.catroulette.be. Cat enthusiasts from Russia and France have also expressed the wish to have a regional Catroulette set up in their countries. But what matters more than anything else is that nearly half of the Belgian Catroulette cats are enjoying the benefits of it, namely a good home, today.
The power of the internet
Here´s another illustration of what the internet can do for man and animals alike. Not only did it bring the problem of cats in animal shelters under the spotlight, it also facilitated the adoption of cats without compromising on their welfare. Unlike second-hand websites, where cats are sometimes traded anonymously, Catroulette provides the initial contact between the cat and its new owner via YouTube clips. If there is a cat to which you are particularly drawn, you can make an appointment with the animal shelter in question straight away. In that way, potential cat owners are given the opportunity of meeting their favourite cat to see if there is a match in real life before proceeding to adopt.
‘It was Tachi who picked me as her new owner’
Corinne from Dilbeek found her new cat, Tachi, via Catroulette. Just like any other day of the year, Corinne had been reading the news of the day on 5 September last when an online article on Catroulette caught her eye. And even though she had been the happy owner of cat Goliath for the past 3 years, Corinne went on to Catroulette.be. A few clicks later she found herself seduced by the charms of cat Fientje. There and then, Corinne made an appointment with Het Blauwe Kruis, the animal shelter where Fientje was staying. That very day, the two met up in Wommelgem, but their meeting did not go quite as she had imagined.
Corinne relates: ‘I believe in intuitive contact between humans and between human and animal alike. Meeting Fientje was a fairly strange experience, we simply didn’t click. A little later another cat spontaneously nestled itself on my shoulder and began licking my cheek. It was as if she was kissing me. With her, things felt right. That cat was called Tachi and in the end it was her whom I adopted. Although… in a way she adopted me. It was Tachi who chose me to be her new master. When asked how Tachi is getting on now, Corinne replies: ‘One month down the line, Tachi feels completely at home, both with her new friend Goliath and with me. I couldn’t do without her anymore ’
Too many cats, not enough homes
Catroulette is an initiative of 4 animal shelters and is backed by GAIA. It brings potential cat owners into contact with cats in the animal shelter in a playful manner. The animal shelters have seized the launch to call attention to the problem of overpopulation and the importance of preventive action. Within 16 months, cats can produce up to 36 kittens, which is many more than there are homes for them. What happens then? Many kittens run wild, starve to death or end up in an animal shelter. A few simple preventive steps, such as sterilisation and castration, can keep down the number of unwanted kittens, thus making Catroulette´s task redundant in future.
Catroulette has been developed on behalf of four animal shelters:
- Kitten in Nood, Brakel.
- Blauwe Kruis, Wommelgem.
- Blauwe Kruis, Brugge.
- Dierenasiel Sint-Truiden.
Catroulette is backed by the animal rights organisation GAIA