Skip to content Skip to navigation

A family affair

An Australian campaign reminds folks that a kitten’s best friend is his mother—and she could be theirs, too

From Animal Sheltering magazine March/April 2014

Shelter kittens. You love ’em. We love ’em. The public loves ’em—so much, in fact, that they often forget a fundamental truth: Behind every great kitten lies a mother cat, likely exhausted, who may also need a home.

In November, the RSPCA’s South Australia chapter—which has three shelters in the state—launched a campaign to remind people about the source of all things kittenish. Called “No Mum Left Behind,” the campaign pitched adopters on the joys of taking home a bonded pair by adopting not only a kitten, but also the kitten’s mother.

“Adopt the baby. Get the babysitter free,” the campaign ads suggested. Not only can adopters bring their new kitten’s mom home at no charge, the shelter will also desex, vaccinate, and microchip both the baby and the sitter.

Tim Vasudeva, the new CEO of the RSPCA South Australia, says he wanted the campaign to have a memorable name, and that “No Mum Left Behind” was a deliberate riff on both the No Child Left Behind Act and the “never leave a man behind” concept that guides those in the military. “I thought the title fairly succinctly captured the sad reality for these cats who have given so much of themselves,” he says.

Vasudeva notes that he’s fostered many cats and kittens himself over the years he’s been involved in animal welfare, and the campaign was driven by the marked difference between how quickly kittens are adopted compared to the lengthy shelter stays their parents often experience. “It is quite heartbreaking seeing a mama cat still waiting for her forever home months after the last of her kittens has been adopted,” he notes.

Since its launch, the campaign—which included creative work from KWP! Advertising in Adelaide, an agency that has often provided pro bono work for the shelter—has gleaned national coverage from print and online media in Australia, including a feature in South Australia’s biggest newspaper, The Advertiser. The initial post about the campaign on the shelter’s Facebook page reached nearly 60,000 people, and at press time, about 12 mums had found homes with one of their kittens.

Now if we can just find some ways to find loving homes for all those deadbeat tomcat dads out there!

Has your organization run a clever/seasonal/cute adoption promotion recently? Tell us about it at

About the Author

M. Carrie Allan is the senior editorial director at The Humane Society of the United States, served as editor of Animal Sheltering magazine for nearly a decade, and has focused on telling the stories of the animal protection movement for even longer. She holds a master’s degree in English and writing and has won awards for her journalism, fiction and poetry, including recognition from the Dog Writer’s Association of American, the Cat Writer’s Association, the Association of Food Journalists, and the James Beard Foundation (where she was a finalist for the work she does in her side-gig, writing about booze and cocktails for the Washington Post). If you think there’s a connection between her longtime commitment to animal welfare work and her interest in a good drink . . . well, aren’t you the smart one?