Putting on a condom can be tricky, what with all the strategic placement and careful unrolling at a time when your mind is on other things. So imagine how difficult it would be to put one on your cat. He can't do it himself, since the love glove could get punctured by his claws. But there's all that fur... So how does Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance executive director Amy Angelilli expect people to use the organization's newest product, Tom Cat Condoms?
Short answer: She doesn't. Tom Cat Condoms, whose slogan is "Prevent a litter, Cover your critter," is labeled on the back as "a joke," albeit one with a serious message about spaying and neutering cats. But not everyone gets the gag.
"We'll have the condoms at outreach events, fairs and festivals," Angelilli notes. "And we'll have people stop by the booth and say, 'Can you show us how to use them?'"
For Angelilli, the usefulness of Tom Cat Condoms involves bringing awareness about the importance of fixing cats to a portion of the public that hasn't gotten the message thus far.
"In a national market research study that PetSmart Charities did, it showed that the 18-34 demographic was the most unlikely to get their pet fixed," Angelilli says. "So how better to reach them than with sex?"
Angelilli credits a RMACA volunteer with coming up with the condom idea. But how to simulate a kitty rubber? Turns out there's a product called latex finger cots that are designed to cover and protect finger injuries -- and they look pretty damn condom-like. "Our volunteer buys them on eBay," Angelilli says.
But Tom Cat Condoms are only one part of a what Angelilli describes as a "racy" campaign designed to grab the attention of the younger generation. For instance, the RMACA also worked up a Valpak coupon with a similar theme. Take a look:
The coupon was sent to 100,000 households in Lakewood, Aurora and Southest Denver, and while the RMACA got lots of positive feedback, not everyone found the imagery hilarious. "There were some angry people who said it wasn't very family friendly," Angelilli concedes. "They weren't pleased when their children opened the Valpak and say this beautiful picture of a white cat saying, 'Because I simply refuse to wear a condom.'
"But that's okay," she goes on. "The idea was to break out of the rut of cat people talking to other cat people about spaying and neutering and get to the people who actually need the service done."
That's also the idea behind the "Beat the Heat" campaign, which went into effect at the beginning of summer. "If you bring us a cat and say, 'Beat the heat' at check-in, you get five dollars off," Angelilli points out. "And we've been promoting it with a lot of funny stuff" -- specifically fliers that find the comedy in cat piss, as seen here.
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But the RMACA is hoping to make an even bigger splash around Labor Day, when it'll launch a series of videos, with Angelilli, an improv comedy veteran, starring as Nurse Nancy, "a squeaky-clean 1950s kind of nurse who teaches pets how to avoid pregnancy," she says.
And yes, one of the videos will feature Tom Cat Condoms.
"Nurse Nancy does a cat condom demonstration on a really small banana," she says.
Hope that doesn't make any tom cats out there feel less than manly. Click for more information about Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance.