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A Free Cab Ride—With One, Furry Caveat

Friday, 20 Jul 2012 | 10:32 PM ET
Source: Purina

Want a free cab ride in New York City this weekend? Don't worry — it's not a scam. It's a very real offer. Just one fuzzy catch! You must love cats. And, you must love talking about how much you love cats.

And if you’ve ever met a kitty lover, you know that talking incessantly about Fluffy is never a problem!

"Cat Cabs," as they're known, are the brainchild of Purina. They'll be running through the weekend in New York City in key locations including Columbus Circle, Union Square, Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central, Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, and a local PetSmart.

“Every single cat out there has a unique wonderful story and we are saying tell it to us!” said Jennifer Sutton, host of "Cat Cab."

How will you know which one is the Cat Cab? It's bright blue and it has all kinds of cat-loving phrases all over it, including "Honk if you're a cat person!" on the bumper.

Honk! Honk! Honk!

This strange exchange system has been well received by New Yorkers. Some people have even gotten in the cabs when they live a block away because they wanted to talk about their cats! Others are Tweeting the locations of the Cat Cabs so that their friends won’t be left out.

And, not ones to accept a closed door, four cats have even hopped in the cabs to join in the fun.

“I have been on two of those rides and if the cats are used to riding in cars it is great. One cat even went right on the front seat!” Sutton said.

The "Purina Cat Chow Real Stories Project Contest" was inspired by "Cash Cab,"the Discovery Channel show where passengers suddenly find a camera in the car and that they're instant contestants on a game show.

The stories people tell about their cats are videotaped and submitted to the contest. They have the chance to win one of five grand prizes ($5,000 and a year’s supply of cat food) or be one of the five runners up who will receive $1,000 each and a one-year supply of cat food.

The contest is part of the Purina Cat Chow’s new initative to tell real stories. Real owners showing off their cats can now be seen on TV, on the food packaging, and more. Bill Etling, director of Purina Cat Chow marketing and public relations said that the marketing team thought “Why not take it further and take it to the streets?!” A company called Show Media in New York has helped other companies in the past give out free rides, but never before in exchange for stories.

Kitty Wig
Source: kittywigs.com
Kitty Wig

The best cat story that Sutton said she's overhead so far was a man who said one night, his cat kept batting his face when he was trying to sleep. He pushed him away but the cat wouldn’t give up until he woke up. It turns out that a candle had set the house on fire and the cat saved his owner and his three roommates. “A lot of stories start with the cat person rescuing the cat from the shelter and the cat rescues them right back one day!” Sutton said.

Sorry, dog lovers but but this fiesta is for felines only. There are no plans to do doggie cabs — or to take the cabs to other cities. However, non-New Yorkers, thank your lucky Internets — you can still apply online at www.yourcatstory.com. The submission period ends on July 31st.

Etling said they are not ruling out bringing Cat Cabs to another city.

It is too soon to tell if this will create a boost in sales for Purina Cat Chow, but Sutton said they've gotten a lot of positive feedback to the promotion.

And why wouldn't they? If there's one thing people love more than their cats during a recession, it’s keeping some scratch in their pawckets!

I can has cab ride? Kitty says LOL ...


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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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