Tip of the Week: FeLV+ Pop-Up

Hey, hey, it’s Monday—we love kicking off the week by passing along a tool, a time-saver, or a just-plain-brilliant idea that your colleagues and members of The Association have suggested and tested. Thinking about adopting out FeLV+ kitties, or looking for a new twist on your current program? You’re in luck—today the shelter staff at Tree House Humane Society share a fun idea that doesn’t require a big commitment of time or resources.

P.S. If you’ve been enjoying our past tips and have one to share, leave a comment and tell us about it.


Many shelters and rescues adopt out FeLV+ cats these days, but back in 2016 it wasn’t as common. So when the adoptions staff at Chicago’s Tree House Humane Society found themselves with several wonderful felines who happened to be FeLV+, they had the genius idea to set up a FeLV+ adoptions pop-up. “What if we just tried it,” they recall thinking, “and just see if it works?” So the team cleared out a small janitorial room, promoted the cats on social media and… adopted them all out. 

Whether you’re starting with one cat or ready to host a pop-up, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t shy away from talking about feline leukemia. To help promote the kitties, the Tree House marketing team created a nifty logo to help spread the word (see the above photo) and a special tagline—Tree House is positive you will fall in love—with the idea of just “putting it out there, front and center.”

  • Tree House has been practicing open adoptions for years, and that approach goes far with FeLV+ adoptions. They’ve long since done away with the application process, so adopter and counselor simply have a conversation. In general, it’s less about showing your adopters FeLV+ cats and more about showing your adopters cats who make a good match. “Ideally,” says Tree House, “we don’t want to say, ‘Hey, would you like to adopt a FeLV+ cat?’ The first answer is probably going to be no, as FeLV is new to many people.” Instead, they suggest saying something like, “I have the perfect cat for you, in our feline leukemia room. Let’s go meet him, and I’d be happy to tell you more about feline leukemia.”

  • In keeping with the open adoptions philosophy, they also don’t put restrictions on who can adopt FeLV+ cats.  “We don’t say we’ll only adopt to people with experience with severe special-needs cats, for example, or to fosters.” Empowering and trusting adopters, Tree House staff finds, is the way to go.

Thinking about starting or expanding FeLV+ adoptions? “Jump in!” encourages the Tree House team. “Get your marketing team on board and invest yourself in it.”

Learn More

These tips on Feline Leukemia adoptions were shared, along with many others, in this 30-minute webinar recording from The Association’s Innovation Bank.


The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


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