July 31, 2013 at 3:55 PM ET
A glitch on Chicago Tribune's homepage Tuesday afternoon may spell good news for a silver-haired kitten waiting for a home.
Visitors to the site got a brief glimpse of an adorable tabby cat named Benton, when a lead story was accidentally replaced by "inoffensive placeholder text" during a routine test. The photo came from the Tribune's own "pets in need of homes" gallery, which features various animals up for adoption.
"The digital editor on duty of the site saw that our main centerpiece story was replaced with this content item, and took it right down within minutes," Amy Guth , Chicago Tribune's social media manager, told TODAY.com in an email.
But those few minutes were enough to pique the interest of a few cat lovers, who either saw the homepage hiccup for themselves or read about Benton on various news outlets, like Gizmodo, that covered the cat's short-lived appearance. The rescue organization that uploaded Benton's photo, Feline Friends, received about twice the normal number of inquiries on Tuesday afternoon, with many people wondering if the tabby cat was still available for adoption.
"We have definitely experienced an increased interest in him since yesterday," Lisa Ward of Feline Friends told TODAY.com. "In fact, we have received a higher than normal level of inquiries in general since yesterday, so his story is also helping our other available kitties get exposure!"
While it's a little too early in the adoption process to say whether one of the interested readers will take Benton home, Ward believes his adoption will be swifter thanks to the media attention.
Benton was pulled from a high-kill animal facility in Illinois last July, and the 4-month-old now spends his days in foster care while he waits for a permanent place to live. Ward describes him as a "feisty little guy," who would do best in a home with other young, playful felines.
"He's a terrific cat," she said.
But Ward also encourages people to remember that he is but one of many in need of a home.
"All of this is fantastic, and we're thrilled to be fielding so many calls, but there are many, many others that are in need of rescue," she told TODAY.com.
Though the temporary glitch may help Benton (and a few more kittens) find happy homes, the Tribune took the temporary glitch quite seriously and immediately addressed the issue on Twitter and in the comment section of the original Gizmodo story covering the blip.
“Thankfully, our readers were very kind about the oversight, but this test content item pushed down a story about the Chicago funeral of actor Dennis Farina, and sat by several very serious stories including the WikiLeaks court ruling and the death of former US senator Harry Byrd Jr.,” Guth, who took to her own Twitter account to muse on the commentary, wrote in an email. “It wasn't our intention to make light of those important stories. We take the programming of our website very seriously, and we do regret the error.”