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Gain a friend, save a life

June is Adopt a Cat Month and many shelters are full

People who adopt a cat are not just getting a new friend — odds are a life is being saved too.

 June is Adopt a Cat Month and while some animal shelters are no-kill, or can refuse to take pets if the facility is full, not every shelter has that option.

“We are an open intake facility,” said Dana Johnson, Director of the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center. “We will not turn a dog or cat away from a resident of Mon County. They have to show proof, but we do not turn anything away. Therefore we have a constant flow of cats that come in.”

On Friday, the shelter took in 12 cats. Next week, one person is expected to bring in another 20-30 cats, Johnson said.

“The shelters don’t want to have to euthanize,” she said. “We don’t want to, but we feel like we’re not helping if we’re letting cats get turned loose when people want them out of their yard or woods. It’s a real issue.”

The large number of rescue agencies has helped cut the number of cats killed each year, Johnson said. In 2007, 300 of 1,675 cats were adopted or picked up by their owners. The rest were euthanized. In 2019, only 936 cats were taken in and 456 of them were adopted or picked up by their owner.

“It is every little teeny tiny thing that every group does that makes a difference,” Johnson said.

Adopting a cat is as simple as visiting the shelter with $85 in cash and an ID, figuring out what cat you want and filling out about 15 minutes filling out paperwork. All animals from her shelter are spayed or neutered, Johnson said.

Michaela Martin, a volunteer with Davis Crew Kittens, mainly works with the feral cat population to trap, neuter and release them.

The goal of a TNR problem is to reduce the number of cats born, which reduces the number of cats that end up in shelters and possibly put down, Martin said.

A cat population can quickly grow out of control and this kitten season —  which starts in spring and ends in early fall — is especially bad because of the mild winter, experts said.  A cat can have three litters a season, each with four to six kittens.

One reason to rescue a cat instead of buying    from a breeder or pet store is that the cat knows you saved it, Martin said.

“A lot of the time, and it almost sounds crazy, they are genuinely very grateful,” Martin said. “You can just tell they are grateful to be in a place where they are well fed compared to what they’ve seen before. Because a lot of animals come out of very crappy situations.”

The most important thing is making sure that all cats are fixed, Johnson said. Keeping up with feral colonies and making sure their cats are fixed is critical. If someone takes the time to feed strays on their property, they should make sure to take the time to get them fixed, as well.

One hurdle for TNR programs is that they require community participation. While there are programs like the Mountaineer Spay Neuter Assistance Program that can help with the financial aspect, someone has to be willing to do the work of capturing the cats and taking them to the vet.

Alexis Potesta, a kennel technician with the Marion County Humane Society, said the organization has been trying for years to start a TNR program — but without community support and funding, it’s hard to do.

Kittens have a 12-week socialization period before they are considered feral,  and can be rescued and adopted out during that time, Martin said.

To see what animals Davis Crew Kittens has for adoption, visit their Facebook page.

Mountaineers for Mutts is another Monongalia County pet rescue for both cats and dog. Their animals are available on Facebook.

The Marion County Humane Society also has a Facebook page, as does the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center.

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