Tap Uber app Thursday for some ‘cuddle time’

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Need some cuddle time at work?

Uber and local animal groups have a purr-fect opportunity. If your office is in Metro Detroit and you have the Uber app on a smartphone, Thursday could be the day you bond with a furry friend.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Uber riders in Metro Detroit can request the “KITTENS” option on the popular app and pay a $30 “snuggle fee” to snag a 15-minute play session with cats from three Metro Detroit groups: All About Animals Rescue, Macomb County Animal Control and Guardian Angel Animal Rescue. Representatives from the animal rescue groups supervise the visits.

It’s the third year Uber has coordinated the event and first in Michigan, officials said. More than 50 cities across the country are participating.

Besides offering a workday diversion, the event boosts the animal groups: the proceeds support their efforts and the kittens are eligible for adoption, said Michael White, general manager for Uber Michigan. “It’s a great experience and it’s also a great way to give back.”

The process works like this: within minutes of requesting through the app, users receive a call to verify their work site has an enclosed space or dedicated room for “playtime,” a supervisor approved the visit and no one in the area is allergic, White said.

Shortly after a trip is cleared, an Uber driver arrives with two or three kittens chaperoned by representatives from the company and groups involved, he said. The cats then briefly frolic and connect with admirers as well as potential adopters, who can learn more about the process.

“I think we’ll be able to get all of these guys adopted,” said Catherine Garrett, director of development and marketing at All About Animals Rescue, which has clinics in Warren, Auburn Hills and Detroit.

Among the kittens available Thursday are five 10-week-old kittens born days after Guardian Angel Animal Rescue found their stray mother at an abandoned home in Detroit, president Sandy Mezza said.

The no-kill nonprofit generally works with a network of foster homes, she said, so this sort of venue allows them to widen their reach. “We’re probably going to be talking to people we normally wouldn’t be talking to. It’s a great event. We’re really excited.”

Jeff Randazzo, Macomb County’s chief animal control officer, expects more than a dozen young cats to ride out Thursday. If any are adopted, he said, “this will make space for more animals to come in.”

Be forewarned, though: requests for the furry bundles could prove more popular than what’s available.

“Usually what we’ve seen in other cities where we’ve run this is that the requests are just off the chart. It’s really hard to meet the demand,” White said. “There will be some people who may not be able to get the experience because of that high demand, but we’re going to do our best to get as many people that opportunity as we can.”

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