Steven Liu with cats

Photo: Scratching Pad

Steven Liu is reinventing the traditional animal shelter.

Last summer, he rented a duplex apartment in Brooklyn and set up accounts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Then he started taking in cats.

"It started as a series of thoughts connected," Liu told Catster. "I was looking through YouTube trying to figure out trends, and I made a remark to someone that was a dumb joke. I said, 'I bet there's more views per cat-ita than per capita.'

"Then it kinda clicked, like how a lot of people manage celebrities and personalities but no one's managing cats. So what if someone started an animal management agency where they saved cats at the same time?"

kittens on laptopThus was born the Scratching Pad, the apartment shelter Liu shares with his foster cats, where he's constantly competing with curious kittens for control of the laptop.

Liu says he hopes to finance the shelter by creating branded content he shares via social media.

"I just want to identify what are the best products for cats," he told The Billfold. "Like, I live in this crazy cat house. What are the products that are going to make my life easier? I’m going to say to a brand, 'I like your product, and if you want to sponsor it so that everything I post has more reach, that’ll help you.'"

But he says the Scratching Pad isn't just about sponsors and branding. He wants to create engaging content that educates pet owners, such as an infographic he helped create about the harmful effects of declawing.

Fostering cats has been quite the adventure for Liu, a former bank worker who admits he's allergic to cats, but he's taken in numerous felines and found them forever homes.

subway kittensIn August, he took in the famous New York subway kittens, as well as two kittens that appeared in the Puppy Bowl's kitty halftime show. All of the kittens have since been adopted.

One of Liu's current feline companions at the Scratching Pad is Barb, a feline that limped up to him on the street. After medical treatment and a few weeks in a cast, Barb recovered and now spends her days stealing computer cords and trying to get as much lap time as possible.

He's also shared his apartment with an entire litter of kittens after another rescued cat turned out to be pregnant.

With numerous cats — up to eight recently — the food, litter and veterinarian bills add up, but even though his blog isn't making money yet, Liu says he has a plan to monetize his venture and save cats in the process.

If you're not in a position to adopt Barb or one of his other cats, Liu says you can help simply by following the Scratching Pad on Twitter and Instagram, or like the shelter on Facebook.

"If you want to help me with this mission, the social media engagement is super important," he said. "I'm not like some aspiring social media guy where it's, 'Like my fan page because it's me!' I think I have a good enough reason: It helps me save cats."

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

A cat shelter grows in Brooklyn (and it's run out of one guy's apartment and funded by social media)
Steven Liu hopes to capitalize on the Internet's love of felines and help New York shelter cats find forever homes in the process.