Josh Shaffer

Shaffer: Uber kittens brought to your door

For the morose, the bitter, the emotionally drained and the spiritually wiped-out, the online transport service Uber offers a one-day, fur-covered mood shifter:

Kitten delivery.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday – which, we all know, is National Cat Day – the ride-providing giant will accept requests for a whiskered care package anywhere in the Triangle. For $30, your office gets a 15-minute romp with a bundle of tiny felines.

“You get a few,” said Arathi Mehrotra, general manager for Uber North Carolina. “You get a bunch of them. I can pretty much guarantee demand will be extremely high.”

When this news landed in my inbox, I chalked it to up to a fake news ploy – somebody’s idea of a laugh. But it’s real. Kitten-carting makes its debut in Raleigh this year, but fuzzy animals will get driven around more than 50 other cities.

“You win, Uber,” came a tweet from Canada Wednesday. “You win.”

If you’re worried that these kittens are getting scooped off the street, or that they’ll be juggled, raced or otherwise mishandled, Uber is partnering with the SPCA of Wake County, which will not only provide the supply of felines but act as chaperone on and between their office jaunts.

“We ask that people pick an enclosed area so we don’t have any runaways,” Mehrotra said.

In turn, Uber collects its $30 “snuggle fee” and donates part of it to the SPCA. I couldn’t find out exactly how much Wednesday. But the upshot of this service is that all visiting kittens will be available for adoption.

Any interested cat-lover will see the kitten option on the Uber app Thursday. One thing to remember, though, is that basic economic law applies equally to cats. Demand for kittens is endless, but supplies are limited. In New York last year, many hopefuls were met with a “kittens are currently being snuggled” message. Patience and persistence is advised.

Predictably, not all cat people purred over this opportunity. A petition is circulating on the website, asking for better methods of placing these creatures in forever homes.

“While the concept of highlighting the importance of adopting rescue animals & collaborating with a Cat Welfare Society sounds good,” the petition reads, “schlepping rescue kittens to workplaces to be manhandled for money is cruel.”

But I think this critique is overblown. Kittens for all. And next year?