TinyKittens YouTube success fuels more cat rescue efforts

TinyKittens YouTube success fuels more cat rescue efforts

The Langley-based non-profit has inspired TNR groups thanks to its viral videos

The internet loves cats.

Langley animal welfare advocate and TinyKittens founder Shelly Roche knew that, since the Facebook page she started in 2013 went viral and racked up 1.6 million followers.

But over the last year and a half, the Fort Langley-based organization has turned much of its online activity over to YouTube, where it has proved just as popular.

Roche had been putting up videos of the rescued cats in her care for years, but a couple of years ago, the Livestream service that she used called up and said her videos were too popular. She would need to pay $64,000 a year for bandwidth in the future.

“Obviously, as a non-profit, we can’t do that,” Roche said.

She turned to YouTube, long the most popular video streaming site.

“They had recently launched their live platform,” Roche said, which allowed TinyKittens to livestream footage of the cats and kittens to viewers 24 hours a day.

“We had been pretty popular on the Livestream platform, but YouTube exposed us to a whole new audience,” said Roche.

That was in early 2018. In the 18 months since, the TinyKittens YouTube channel has racked up more than 135,000 subscribers. Some videos have millions of views, and several of the cats have become YouTube celebrities in their own right.

The cat dubbed Grandpa Mason has 9.9 million views for the video that introduced him to the world.

“He was supposed to be dead two years ago,” Roche said of the cat who now calmly wanders the living room amid a whirl of playing kittens.

Mason is an older feral cat who wasn’t expected to live long. With notches in his ears and a crooked tail, broken multiple times, he’s the picture of an old stray tom cat, and he didn’t take to being touched by humans right away after he was trapped and brought back to the TinyKittens HQ.

The TinyKittens crew decided to just make him comfortable after a diagnosis of kidney disease that was likely to kill within four months.

But his tenderness with kittens in the house went viral on video sites.

“All he wants is to be surrounded by kittens,” said Roche. “And his story has been seen more than 100 million times around the world.

Mason is a big part of the overall mission of TinyKittens.

“He’s our best advocate for senior cats, and terminally ill cats, and cats that are different,” said Roche.

TinyKittens doesn’t just take in surrendered cats or collect lost animals.

They have targeted the feral cat colonies where hundreds or thousands of cats live in Langley and surrounding areas.

Roche and the volunteers who work with her have conducted multiple trap-neuter-release campaigns, bringing in feral cats and giving them basic vet care before having them fixed and released again.

The idea is to slowly and humanely eliminate the feral cat colonies that exist in rural and industrial neighbourhoods. The lives of feral cats are short and they often suffer from disease, injury, and predation, as well as hunting wild bird populations.

That has led to them taking in many cats that would be considered too difficult for other shelters – including Mason, and his fellow celebrity cat Cassidy, who was rescued after he lost both his hind legs below the knee.

Spreading the message that all cats have value through YouTube is a big job on top of caring for the 30 cats and kittens presently in the HQ.

The live-chat function on the livestreamed YouTube videos requires constant moderation, a task undertaken by a team of 50 volunteers from around the world. They ensure that the comments on the streams are harmonious.

The YouTube channel does bring in some revenue through ads, which helps offset the hefty veterinarian bills that are TinyKittens biggest expense. It doensn’t eliminate the need for donations, but it does reduce it somewhat, said Roche.

Most important is spreading the message.

Many of the cats TinyKittens takes in would be euthanized elsewhere.

“We’re trying to show the world that they have value, even if they’re older, or terminally ill, or missing a limb,” Roche said.

The explosive popularity of TinyKittens online has fueled an explosion of other groups.

“People contact us from all over the world, starting their own TNR [trap-neuter-release] programs,” Roche said.

The encourage people to donate to local rescue organizations wherever they live.

“We ask them to create Facebook pages, to continue to tell the stories of these cats,” Roche said.

READ MORE: Langley shelter hosts annual ‘Kitten Roundup’

READ MORE: Kitten season brings felines in need of new homes to Langley shelter

READ MORE: One-eyed Shelly one of many special cats in need of adoption

animal welfareCatsFort LangleyLangleyvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

TinyKittens YouTube success fuels more cat rescue efforts

TinyKittens YouTube success fuels more cat rescue efforts

Just Posted

(file)
Two ejected from single vehicle crash in Seabird Island

Landing zone for medevac has been requested

(File photo)
Semi truck and car collide on Highway 1 near Popkum

Slow lane eastbound is now closed as crews wait for tow trucks

Treeplanters from Shakti Reforestation are adding to the forests of Mount Thom Park. (City of Chilliwack)
Treeplanting project in Mount Thom Park will keep Chilliwack forest resilient

So far they’ve planted 2,000 of 80,000 trees planned for popular park on Promontory

Fire damage is seen in the windows of an apartment on Yale Road on April 21, 2021 following a fire there the night before. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack Fire Dept. reminds people again to have working smoke alarms following 2nd blaze in 2 days

All six halls responded to bedroom fire in apartment on Yale Road above restaurant in Chilliwack

Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area was the site of illegally dumped drywall reported on April 19, 2021. (Michael Hill photo)
Another cache of dumped drywall in Chilliwack prompts suggestion to block access

Pile of drywall likely asbestos containing discarded in wildlife management area

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Playland at the PNE is set to reopen this May, with COVID-19 health and safety measures approved by the province. (Website/Playland)
VIDEO: Playland at PNE scheduled to reopen this May to masked customers

British Columbians are discouraged from travelling outside of their local health authority to visit the theme park

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Most Read