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Florida Couple Runs a Retirement Home for Cats

Entered in Storytelling


AARP’s Real People, Real Stories series celebrates ordinary individuals from diverse backgrounds whose actions have made an extraordinary impact on themselves and a wider community. In the series episode “Florida Couple Runs a Retirement Home for Cats,” we profiled the operators of Cats Cradle, a senior cat sanctuary located in Lutz, Florida. Our objective was to highlight the plight of senior pets and show that any individual can help make an impact on caring for the animals in their community. 

Bruce and Terry Jenkins started Cats Cradle after falling in love with a senior cat who was at risk of being euthanized at their local animal shelter. Lifelong animal lovers, the couple quickly adopted the pet. However, adopting the animal led to the Jenkins realizing the plight of many senior pets, who often outlive their owners and are disproportionately euthanized and left waiting for adoption in shelters. They decided to create a senior cat sanctuary in their backyard, and now take care of over 30 cats. 

The Jenkins had recently retired when they decided to start Cats Cradle. They now use the extra energy and time to manage the facility. The organization is run by just the two of them, so they don’t get any vacation days, but operating the organization has added purpose and intention to their retirement.


Through research and data analysis, we realized that subject profiles that feature animals often outperform other content. So, we decided to pursue a video highlighting animals while also staying true to AARP’s mission (in this case, finding purpose in retirement). As there are many animal stories that can be told, finding the right one required research but ultimately was rewarded through the discovery of Bruce and Terry Jenkins.

Filming with animals can always be a challenge, especially in the Florida heat. So, we had to structure our production to make sure that we could show the animals that lived in Cats Cradle. In this case, that meant filming in the early morning and being close enough to capture footage while making the cats feel safe so they wouldn’t be skittish.


The video was an outstanding  success with our Facebook audience and for Cats Cradle Sanctuary. The post was among the top 2 most successful of the year across all types of content on our AARP Facebook channel. The video reached over 6.5 million people, earned over 4.8 million views, and received nearly 300K engagements. Over 500K of those views were received in the months after the initial posting, proving this content is an evergreen video that has the power to bring in viewers to AARP’s content library. 

The success of this video on AARP’s Facebook channel also helped drive impact for Cats Cradle. In the immediate time period following the video posting, Cats Cradle raised over $15K and gained 2000 followers on their Facebook page along with an increased sign up for their “Angels” program, who are monthly monetary donors.

The impact was felt by Bruce Jenkins, one of the operators of the organization. He was pleased to be able to expand their facilities: 

Viewers connected with the video’s core message of helping out animals in their community, and here is one of the 12,000+ comments:


Video for Florida Couple Runs a Retirement Home for Cats

Entrant Company / Organization Name

AARP Studios


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