9 Lives for $9 helps cats find adoptive homes

Johnny Depp as a kitten lying next to a big white dogFrom the road, the tiny bundle was just a blur, but to the trained eye it looked like a kitten in critical condition. Pulling over to assess the situation, a foster mom from the local Free Roaming Feline Program came to the aid of the kitten, who was suffering from parasites, burrs on top of his head and an eye ailment that reminded the foster mom of a pirate.

Johnny Depp was found just in the nick of time. He made a full recovery and eventually found a forever home — thanks to 9 Lives for $9, a successful Best Friends adopt a cat special devoted to helping more cats find loving homes.

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Rescuing the most at-risk cats

In 2008, Kathy Beer founded the Free Roaming Feline Program because she wanted to do more for Wisconsin homeless cats in the communities of Two Rivers and Manitowoc.

“I was on the board of a local humane society and saw the monthly reports; 100 percent of the feral cats were being killed,” says Kathy. “And most of them weren’t feral; they were abandoned house cats. I had to do more.”

The group is dedicated to helping cats through fixing and rehoming or relocating at-risk felines. In its short history, with just a handful of dedicated volunteers, the group has come to the aid of 3,000 cats, including Johnny Depp, who they helped get into foster care.

Networking to save cats' lives

Three years ago, the Free Roaming Feline Program joined the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network, which helps rescue organizations and municipal shelters across the country to end the killing of dogs and cats in our nation’s shelters. “We are a business of the heart,” says Kathy, “and to do it successfully we need support, enthusiasm and drive, which we get by being a Network partner.” No More Homeless Pets Network partners receive a variety of support, including the opportunity to participate in unique adoption promotions.

9 Lives for $9 cat adoption promo

This year more than 140 Network partners from around the country have signed up to participate in the 9 Lives for $9 promotion, while last year, 122 Network partners facilitated approximately 1,800 cat adoptions.  Running from June 14-22, the growing program provides participating groups with professional, customizable marketing materials that help them find homes for more cats, with an adoption fee reduced to $9.

Best Friends events supervisor Tami Simon says, “9 Lives for $9 is important for many communities during the height of kitten season because this is the time when cats are most at-risk for being killed in shelters due to lack of space.”

Johnny Depp the cat is now in a loving homeIt certainly was important for Johnny. He found a home with a young woman who was thrilled to have him. Now he spends his days following her around and occasionally walking across her keyboard to send his very own garbled messages on her Facebook account. Johnny’s new family finds his antics adorable; he’s hit the jackpot.

While kitten season may be a challenging time to celebrate, the Best Friends 9 Lives for $9 promotion gives rescue groups across the country a reason to cheer: This year, more than 2,500 cats went home.

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Photos courtesy of Free Roaming Felines Program