Fishtopher the "depressed" cat went viral after a Twitter user shared screenshots of his Petfinder profile.
A Baltimore couple told Insider they drove two hours and waited in the cold to adopt him.
Now they're using his social media popularity to bring attention to other shelter animals.
Fishtoper the cat's journey to his new home started with a tweet.
On Thursday, Twitter user @MollyClarke shared a screenshot of a Petfinder listing from Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center in Blackwood, New Jersey. The listing featured a photo of a large cat described as "very sad and depressed" and "out of sorts" at the shelter.
The tweet blew up over Thanksgiving, with 168,000 likes and over 21,000 retweets as of Sunday. Social media users replied with encouragement and pictures of their own rescue cats, hoping someone would adopt Fishtopher.
One of the people who saw the downcast feline online was Laura Folts, a 22-year-old living in Baltimore, Maryland. Folts told Insider that she and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Tanner Callahan, previously talked about adopting a pet, so she jokingly sent the tweet to him on a whim. Little did she know, Callahan submitted an application — and quickly heard back from the shelter.
The couple drove from Baltimore to Blackwood on Saturday, leaving around 8 a.m. and arriving at Homeward Bound around 10 a.m., an hour before the center opened. Folts knew that others would come to meet Fishtopher, so they waited in the cold to be first in line. Their efforts paid off.
"I think a lot of people came in wanting to see him. And of the group of the first 10 people that were there at open, about eight or nine of them were there to see Fishtopher. And so they all got to pet him," she said. "But we were the lucky ones to take him home."
Folts and Callahan said Homeward Bound told them they got hundreds of inquiries about Fishtopher, with some traveling from California and the United Arab Emirates.
After a car ride highlighted by a pitstop for cat food and cuddles, Fishtopher moved into Callahan's home. The couple says that although he's created a few hideouts for himself, he's adjusting to his new space well.
Fishtopher tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus according to the couple, which the Cornell Feline Health Center describes as a common disease that attacks a cat's immune system. According to the center, FIV affects anywhere from 2.5 to five percent of otherwise healthy cats in North America.
Despite his health setback, Fishtopher's new owners say he's a warm, affectionate pet who loves people.
Folts began documenting the cat's new life with photos on her personal Twitter page, and in addition, created a Twitter and Instagram account in his name. Both of Fisthtopher's social media accounts already have more than 13,000 followers as of Sunday, which Folts said came as a shock to her.
"It's been really heartwarming how a lot of people are like, 'You could tell how much happier he is,'" she said.
Now that Fishtopher has a platform, Folts and Callahan say they want to bring attention to other animals in need. Folts frequently retweets photos and listings for shelter animals, and she said she hopes the people who kept up with Fishtopher — and bought him items from a small wish list — will notice.
"I really hope people keep the same energy for other cats just because he is very unique in his look," she said. "But also there's other cats that are just as unique and special that need homes and also money ... People wanted to send us money for food or just give us money because we adopted him. And I'm just like, 'No, don't. Give it to other cats who don't have a home right now.'"
Homeward Bound's executive director Lysa Boston told Insider that the center is currently over capacity and she hopes others will be inspired by Fishtopher's story.
"We are thrilled with all the attention that he got and hope that it will make people realize that we have so many wonderful cats and dogs as well up for adoption that are so often overlooked," she said.
Read the original article on Insider