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VIPP handles record numbers of cats

By NATALIE MARTIN
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Editor
June 19, 2013 · Updated 11:18 AM
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VIPP volunteers Amanda DeSantis (left) and Melinda Arroyo work at the crowded cat shelter off Old Mill Road. / Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

Vashon Island Pet Protectors, with record numbers of cats and slow adoption rates, has temporarily stopped accepting new cats at its shelter and is making special efforts to adopt out the ones it has.

“This is the first time we’ve had to do that simply because we had too many cats,” said Terri Fletcher, a longtime VIPP volunteer who helps manage the nonprofit’s cat shelter.

Last Friday morning, as shelter volunteers arrived at the large modular off of Old Mill Road for their regular rounds of feeding, litter cleaning and playing, Terri noted that the building felt more crowded than usual. Two main rooms with attached patios that normally hold about a dozen cats each held 17 cats each that day.

“It’s crazy,” Terri said. “We’ve had a couple of great foster homes that have stepped forward to alleviate some of the crowding.”

Over the last several months, VIPP officials say, the shelter has taken in larger-than-normal numbers of cats. In a couple cases, big groups of cats were donated after their owners died.

“We’ve had more relinquished cats this year for a variety of reasons,” said Geoff Fletcher, the president of VIPP.

At the same time, cat adoptions have been low, Geoff said. The organization normally adopts out six to 12 cats a month, but in April they only found homes for five cats and last month just three.

“This spring adoptions have been slower, and it’s hard to know why that is,” Terri said.

Last month, the shelter housed 51 cats, compared with the 36 it held at the same time last year. Including cats in foster homes, the organization oversaw 67 cats last month, compared with 58 at the same time last year. Terri said she’d like to see the shelter’s numbers fall back under 40.

Caring for the large numbers of cats is expensive for VIPP and taxing on its volunteers, Terri said. Being in tight quarters can also stress the cats and even lead to medical problems.

“They’re not pack animals,” she said. “They like to have their own space.”

To attract more potential cat owners, VIPP has tacked laminated photos of adoptable cats on bulletin boards island wide. The organization has extended its adoption hours for the summer, lowered its adoption fee from $75 to $50 and is holding a special senior cat adoption fair at the Vashon Senior Center.

On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., senior cats with mock “American Association of Retired Cats” cards made by VIPP volunteers will be available for adoption at the Vashon Senior Center. While anyone can adopt an aging cat at the event, seniors who hold their own AARP cards can take one home for just $20.

Terri said she hoped the special promotions and the extended hours would get more people interested in adding a new pet to their lives.

“The majority of our cats are very adoptable, they just need to find a family of their own,” she said.

The VIPP cat shelter’s summer adoption hours are 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. For shelter location and more information on adopting a cat, see www.vipp.org.

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