October 30, 2014

Uber Delivers On-Demand Kittens in Furry Fundraiser

Who needs YouTube cat videos when the whiskered critters are available for office delivery?

For four hours Wednesday afternoon in seven U.S. cities, users of the popular transportation service Uber could order 15 minutes of playtime with a kitten, delivered, of course, using Uber’s fleet of vehicles. The cost was $30 per visit with the proceeds, plus dollar-for-dollar matching gifts from Uber, going to local partner animal shelters.

The event coincided with National Cat Day.

It marked the second consecutive year that Uber worked with the ASPCA and its affiliates to facilitate the cat calls.

This year, on-demand kittens were available in Austin, Chicago, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

Trisha Teckenbrock, spokesperson for the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, said that the organization had nine cats in three cars making visits. The amount of money raised was still being tallied.

The event raised more than $1,000 for the Washington Humane Society, which supplied the kittens in the capital city, said Zenit Chughtai, the organization’s online-communications specialist. Six Uber black vehicles carried a total of 14 kittens, according to Ms. Chughtai. Each car was accompanied by a representative from the animal shelter. Her own Uber vehicle made seven stops, mostly to corporate offices in high-rise buildings but also to George Washington University Law School.

"It is Wednesday and people are tired, but people’s faces just lit up," Ms. Chughtai said.

Requests quickly exceeded availability. No sooner did she and the kittens return to their vehicle and note on the Uber mobile app that they were available than they were off to another destination, she said.

Repeated efforts to order a kitten visit for The Chronicle office fell flat.

"Sorry, all kittens are snuggling," read a message on the Uber app.

In an apologetic Tweet, the ASPCA said that demand was high and "we don’t want to put too much stress on the kittens."

Pictures and messages posted on Twitter under the hashtag #Uberkittens showed that at least some Uber users had been able to secure a quarter of an hour with a furry guest.

Send an e-mail to Megan O’Neil.