"Congrats Barney on finding your forever family!" Emmet County Animal Shelter in Iowa wrote on social media after Barney got adopted
After nine years of waiting, Barney has left the building!
The rescue cat's story started nine years ago when his pregnant mother was left in a feral cat colony. The pregnant feline was taken in by an animal rescuer who fostered the cat and the kittens she gave birth to — Barney included — until the furry family was ready to move into ECAS to be adopted, Kristy Henning, the director of ECAS, tells PEOPLE.
Even though Barney has always been a "super outgoing and affectionate" feline, he couldn't find a match for years.
"He just didn't get picked," Henning says, adding wonderful cats being overlooked by potential adopters is unfortunately common, especially in Midwest shelters, where there are "way more cats looking for homes than homes looking for cats."
Barney's adoption luck changed after a photo of the gray tabby showing off a big smile, snapped by ECAS's kennel manager, Lindsey Rohrbaugh, ended up on Reddit two weeks ago.
"Meet Barney, he's been at his shelter since he was born. He's 9 years old and the happiest-looking cat you'll see today," the Reddit user who made the post wrote alongside the adorable photo.
The post quickly garnered over 51,000 upvotes and over 1,100 comments, including comments from those interested in adopting Barney.
One of those folks was Amanda Scherer, who told the Des Moines Register that she had been charmed by Barney's photo on Reddit.
"I was scrolling through Reddit, and he popped up… I saw him and thought he was super cute," Scherer told the outlet.
On Saturday, the ECAS announced on social media that, after reviewing the numerous adoption applications the shelter received following the viral Reddit post, Scherer's family was chosen as the lucky animal lovers to bring Barney home.
"Thank you to Amanda and her family for opening their hearts and their home to this sweet boy," the ECAS said in the announcement. "He instantly loved them on the day they finally met."
The organization added, "He's enjoying [the love] and attention, as expected! Congrats Barney on finding your forever family!"
Scherer drove with her family from Lee's Summit, Missouri, to pick up Barney, who is now settling into his new life.
Henning says that Barney's forever family, which includes Scherer, her husband, their 3-year-old daughter, and another furry sibling, has been in contact with the ECAS "almost every day" to update the shelter on how the cat is doing.
According to the shelter director, after taking a few days to acclimate to his new surroundings, Barney is doing well and already enjoying the perks of living in a home.
"He really loves the carpet in his new house," Henning says. "He never had that at the shelter."
Henning hopes Barney's happy ending inspires animal lovers to adopt long-term shelter residents.
"Don't assume they are there for a negative reason," Henning says of rescue pets in shelters for years.
"Barney did nothing wrong, or the shelter, or the people who came to the shelter," she adds. "When you have 250 cats, not everyone is going to get picked."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Those who can't adopt a new pet can still help clear out shelters and give more opportunities to pets like Barney by having their pets spayed and neutered and assisting local rescues.
"If you are in an area with a local shelter and have time or talent to share, volunteer, and donate. You don't even have to go into the shelter because many shelters have remote volunteer opportunities," Henning says.
To learn more about ECAS and meet the shelter's adoptable pets, visit the rescue's website.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.