Total Pageviews

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Uber and Cheezburger Offer Kittens for Rent, for a While

Need to cuddle with a kitten for 15 minutes but don't have a fluffy friend? Not to worry, Silicon Valley has an app for that - at least temporarily.

To celebrate National Cat Day on Tuesday, Uber, the car rental start-up, and Cheezburger, the purveyor of LOLcats, teamed up to offer the delivery of kittens from local animal shelters for a 15-minute cuddle session.

On its website, Uber said people in New York City, Seattle and San Francisco, would see a special tab that said “Kittens!” in the official Uber app. For $20, a black town car with a little tabby and its handlers would arrive with cuddles and sweets.

“If the furry friends are available, you and your buds will be enjoying 15 minutes of snuggles and cupcakes,” the blog post said. The company teamed up with the Seattle Humane Society in Seattle, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City and the San Francisco S.P.C.A.

Uber said the promotion was intended to help people adopt homeless cats. ”You will have a chance to adopt the Kittens!” the company said. “Please chat with the shelter representative that will be assisting with kitten wrangling!”

But not everyone seemed excited by the idea of animals for rent.

On the website Ycombinator News, some said the delivery seemed unfair. “This does feel a bit weird - short-term rental of petting animals?” wrote one user on the site. “I'm worried about mishandling, animal cruelty and the whole concept - pets form an attachment with you, doing it as a short-term rental isn't an acceptable way of building a relationship.”

Another person wrote that while its important to socialize kittens at an early age to make them comfortable around people, “I don't think it's a good idea to haul them around town in a car. Cats don't like to be taken outside their known environment at all, and they don't like to be locked inside a box, or transported in a noisy car.”

On Uber's site the commentary was mixed, with many people applauding the kittens, but others worrying that it was insensitive. “I applaud the effort to get the kittens where they're being seen so they may get a home, but travel is a huge stresser for the majority of cats,” wrote one Uber customer.

On Twitter, the sentiment was very different. People complained that they could not get a kitten delivered because there was too much demand from other customers.

“Kittens are sold out in Seattle,” wrote Jenny Smith, a software recruiter for Zillow, the real estate service. “We've been trying for hours.”