A personal passion of mine is animal welfare.
Specifically, I mean caring for stray cats in poor health, and rehoming them with someone who will be able to look after them permanently. Most people would think this practice is incompatible with my highly mobile lifestyle, where I often won’t spend more than a couple weeks or months in one location. They think finding someone to adopt a cat is a lengthy process, and not something that can be accomplished spontaneously. After all, just look at how many stray cats there are on the street, or sitting in shelters waiting for owners.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve taken at least a dozen cats off the streets of Guanajuato, Casablanca, Kumasi, Kuala Lumpur, Ubud, Tbilisi, Athens, and other cities, and found new permanent homes for them. The reason I am equipped to do this is because I understand the art of the cold pitch. I know how to target qualified prospects from a large group of random people, show off the most uniquely attractive attributes of what I am selling, and say the right words that lead to a buying decision as quickly as possible. I can do this even in a place where I have no social connections, and am unfamiliar with the local language or culture.
I call my process “street cat marketing”. It has dual meaning, because the cats are “street cats”, and I’m finding new homes for them through old fashioned “street marketing”. It usually consists of taking my latest feline companion into my arms and meandering through a populated public area, such as parks and outdoor cafe venues, to garner the attention and interest of qualified prospects (i.e. other “cat people”). It’s an irrefutable fact that anyone who likes cats will be irresistibly drawn towards a well-dressed young man carrying a cute little kitty in his arms. This is the first step in the process of qualification, and they quickly become viable leads.
The sheer unusualness of the situation causes a great many people to look my way, or come right up to me to pet the cat and ask me questions. Already, I am gathering attention by being unique in my setting. Since at this point they are already intrigued and asking me questions, all I have to do is answer in a way that continues propelling them into wanting to know more. I answer in the form of a short narrative – a story about how I am a perpetual traveler living around the world, rescuing cats as I go. Now they have context, both for who I am and the critical information which will come next.
When I explain that I found the cat I am holding struggling to survive on the street, and how eager it was to come home with me, and how it has since turned into a healthy and social pet, my audience becomes emotionally engaged. They are ready for the call to action.
I tell them that I will be leaving the country soon, and that if I can’t find a new home for this cat who has risen up from poverty to be the beautiful creature they see before them, whose soft fur and loving eyes they are in the process of engaging with emotionally, I will have to put it back on the street where I found it. If I really want to drive the point home, I will show them pictures on my phone of what poor condition the cat was in when I first found it. This serves as proof of concept for the story I am telling, and validates their blossoming emotional engagement.
They immediately understand, without me saying it, that the cat will lose the trust of humans it has developed, and will revert to being a mangy wild animal again. At that point, I rarely even have to ask them to do anything. If they are able to take the cat themselves and give a home, they offer to. Or, more likely, they offer to search around for me to find someone who wants a cat and get back to me.
The entire exchange may take only a minute of time, but the message and its impact are clear. It has not failed me yet, and I’ve been able to find homes for stray cats in as little as one hour, or sometimes up to a few weeks. One even had a litter of five kittens under my care, and reared them in my suitcase for six weeks until I could find someone willing to take in the whole family.