Social media has been a boon for homeless dogs and cats. Animal shelters and rescue groups can quickly get photos of adoptable animals in front of thousands of eyes — and if their pitches are clever enough, they just might go viral.
So we see pit bulls dressed in silly costumes or flower headbands, to show their softer sides. Some shelters hawk cats like used cars. And as we wrote this week, one shelter recently gave animals names that could be safely used as passwords.
Then there’s Cat People of Melbourne, an Australian rescue group that recently decided to turn the adorable approach on its head. Instead of emphasizing the cuddly or intelligent nature of one slender black feline in its custody, director Gina Brett wrote an adoption profile that made him sound downright nasty.
So nasty, in fact, that the authorities at this family newspaper will not permit the use of her word in the headline of this story. But we can share it here: bastard. She called the cat a bastard, and then some.
“Mr. Biggles (also known as Lord Bigglesworth) is an utter utter utter bastard,” Brett wrote. “Mr. Biggles is a despot and dictator, he will let you know he is not happy, which is often because things are often just not up to his high standards.”
She went on: “Mr. Biggles likes his cuddles on his terms, and will sit in your lap when he decides it’s time. If the stroking is not up to his standards, he will nip you.”
In an email, Brett said she put years of advertising and marketing experience to use when she wrote the profile for the “stupidly healthy” 2-year-old cat. But she insists she did not exaggerate.
After being picked up as a stray by park rangers near Melbourne, Mr. Biggles was put up for adoption at a shelter, Brett said. But soon, “he started lashing out at the staff and became quite vicious,” she said, so a Cat People foster home took him in.
That also didn’t go well.
“After a few weeks, I got a phone call saying that they couldn’t manage him any more,” Brett said. “He had drawn blood on every member of her family and had started urinating inappropriately.”
So Brett, cognizant that she was responsible for all cats that came into her group’s care — “even the bastardly ones” — took him in.
It’s gone okay.
Mr. Biggles currently lords over her secured garden (Australians frown on roaming cats), generally getting along nicely with her other cats, dog and chickens. But people? He’s still not a fan.
“He likes to lull guests into a false sense of security then swipe or bite them,” she said.
Even so, Brett’s ad was evidently a masterful piece of reverse psychology. She said she’s been so inundated with adoption applications that she hasn’t had time to go through them all, which means Mr. Biggles remains with her. Many offers have come from overseas, but she is not entertaining those.
Instead, Brett said she asks international applicants “to go to a shelter or rescue group in their area to adopt their very own utter bastard or complete bitch cat, and send us their stories and photos.” She’s been rewarded with many tales about what she refers to as “cats of character” — the sort that are often euthanized because “people don’t give them a chance.”
If you live in Australia and you’ve read all this, and you still think Mr. Biggles is perfect for you, well, maybe think it over a few more days.
“Mr. Biggles is not a cat for the inexperienced or fainthearted,” his profile warns. “He is a full-blooded tomcat with very firm boundaries.”