Our latest adoption special was born out of necessity. Every cat and kitten falls under the “Name Your Own Adoption Fee” for the rest of August. Our adoption fees for cats are normally $75, but right now, you can decide what you would like to pay to adopt a cat or kitten that is altered, up to date on shots and microchipped. If you live in the city limits of Aiken, it will also include lifetime registration.

The main reason for the special is there are simply too many cats and kittens coming in to local shelters right now. Last month was one of the hottest in recorded history in our area, and the breeding season is still going strong, meaning lots of unplanned kittens are finding their ways to local shelters – faster than people are coming in to adopt them.

As of today, we have spayed or neutered about 700 cats this year and adopted out another 130 more. Our new adoption center and expanded clinic will greatly improve these numbers, but there is an immediate need to find homes for healthy and adoptable kittens and cats in local shelters.

We currently have well over 100 cats and kittens just at our shelter, all waiting for a chance to be adopted. Many more are waiting next door at the Aiken County shelter or with Happy Tales rescue, and many more can be located with a quick search on Petfinder.org.

The Name Your Own Adoption Fee is a promotion aimed at spiking adoptions (we had three kittens adopted during the first day of the promotion) and raising awareness that shelters have great cats needing homes. It is also a reminder that if you see outside cats that don’t seem to belong to anyone, you may want check with groups like Aiken Cat Alliance or your local animal control department to make sure you don’t have a lot of unaltered cats in your neighborhood – before you end up with a litter of kittens on your front porch.

Nationally, 84 percent of owned cats are altered, which is encouraging to hear. The kittens coming in are predominately from feral cats that someone is feeding, without having them fixed. Trap, neuter and release groups are working hard to alter more, and you canhelp, too. Many citizens are acquiring a humane trap, bringing in the feral cat to us to be altered on a “Get Your Cat Fixed” day for a discount and then are able to feed the cat in the future without worrying about more kittens being born in their yard.

The other challenge is the low rate of return to owners for cats compared to dogs. Fifteen to 20 percent of dogs picked up by animal control or found by citizens are reunited with their owners before being put up for adoption. According to the ASPCA, only about 2 percent of cats are reclaimed by their owners.

There are several factors at play, including the fact that it isn’t always easy to pick your black or orange cat out of a lineup of strays at your local shelter. This can especially be true if your housecat has been on the road for a few days, has lost some weight, got a little dirty and is scared. The overwhelming majority of those cats that do get reclaimed are microchipped, usually by the shelter where they were adopted from.

According to the Pet Care Foundation, the average cat owning family has 2.19 cats, where dog owners have on average 1.69 dogs. Many of our adopters have more than one cat in their home, and we try our best to socialize our cats and kittens so they will fit into homes already with dogs or cats.

If you have less than 2.19 cats right now or a bigger than average house, please consider adopting a cat or kitten from any local shelter. You’ll save a life and bring some more joy into yours. For more information about adoption, fostering or spay or neuter, call us at 648-6863.