A couple drove 2 hours to adopt a 'depressed' cat named Fishtopher after a tweet about him went viral. Now, they want to use his popularity to help other shelter pets.
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Fishtopher, the "depressed" cat, went viral after a Twitter user shared screenshots of his Petfinder profile.
A Baltimore couple told Insider they drove two hours and waited in the cold to adopt him.
Now they're using his popularity on social media to raise awareness of other shelter pets.
Fishtoper the cat's journey to her new home began with a tweet.
On Thursday, Twitter user @MollyClarke shared a screenshot of a Petfinder listing from the Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center in Blackwood, New Jersey. The listing included a photo of a big cat, which the shelter described as "very sad and depressed" and "out of shape".
The tweet exploded over Thanksgiving with 168,000 likes and over 21,000 retweets on Sunday. Social media users responded with encouragement and pictures of their own rescued cats, hoping someone would adopt Fishtopher.
One of the people who saw the dejected cat online was Laura Folts, a 22-year-old who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Folts told Insider that she and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Tanner Callahan, had previously discussed adopting a pet, so she jokingly sent him the tweet on a whim. Little did she know Callahan was submitting an application — and quickly heard feedback from the shelter.
The couple drove from Baltimore to Blackwood on Saturday, departing around 8 a.m. and arriving in Homeward Bound around 10 a.m., an hour before the center opened. Folts knew others would come to meet Fishtopher, so they waited in the cold to be first in line. Your efforts paid off.
"I think a lot of people came in to see him. And out of the group of the first 10 people who attended the Open, about eight or nine were there to see Fishtopher. And so they all got to pet him," she said. "But we were the lucky ones who brought him home."
Folts and Callahan said Homeward Bound told them they had received hundreds of inquiries about Fishtopher, some of which had traveled in from California and the United Arab Emirates.
Folts and Callahan say Fishtopher was still shy on the drive home but snuggled up to them after a pit stop. Courtesy of Laura Folts
After a car trip punctuated by a pit stop for cat food and snuggles, Fishtopher moved into Callahan's house. The pair say that while he's made a few hiding places for himself, he's adjusting well to his new space.
Fishtopher tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus, which Cornell Feline Health Center describes as a common disease that attacks a cat's immune system, according to the couple. According to the center, FIV affects between 2.5 and 5 percent of otherwise healthy cats in North America.
Despite his health setback, Fishtopher's new owners say he is a warm, loving pet who loves people.
Folts began documenting the cat's new life with photos on her personal Twitter page, and also created a Twitter and Instagram account in his name. Both of Fishthopher's social media accounts already have more than 13,000 followers as of Sunday, which Folts said came as a shock to them.
"It was really heartwarming how a lot of people say, 'You realize how much happier he is,'" she said.
Now that Fishtopher has a platform, Folts and Callahan say they want to raise awareness for other animals in need. Folts frequently retweets photos and offers for animal shelters, and hopes people who've been keeping up with Fishtopher — and bought him items from a little wish list — will take notice.
Folts said Fishtopher found a nice place to nap on a pillow in her closet. Courtesy of Laura Folts
"I really hope people keep that same energy for other cats just because he's so unique in his looks," she said. "But there are other cats that are just as unique and special that need homes and money too...People wanted to send us money for food or just give us money because we adopted him. And I'm just like, 'No, don't. Give it to other cats who aren't home right now.'"
Homeward Bound executive director Lysa Boston told Insider that the center is currently stretched and she hopes others will be inspired by Fishtopher's story.
"We are thrilled with all the attention he has received and hope people will realize that we have so many wonderful cats and dogs for adoption that are so often overlooked," she said.
Read the original article on Insider
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