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Headwaters Animal Shelter struggling with surplus of cats

"They just opened their eyes yesterday," Kern said of the six kittens born two weeks ago. "Mama's very sweet." The mother is named Muwma.1 / 4
Rachelle Kern cuddles with Brambles, a four-month kitten ready for adoption. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)2 / 4
These kittens were found in a shrink-wrapped boat in storage, Kern said. 3 / 4
Tandra Robbins checks on two-week-old kittens at the shelter. There are three girls and three boys in this litter. They will be ready for adoption when they reach three months.4 / 4

The Headwaters Animal Shelter is filled to the brim with felines.

"We've got cats galore. We truly need to reduce numbers," says Mary Aho, treasurer.

The shelter is presently caring for 90 cats — and losing money as a result.

"We just can't continue. We're incurring a lot of medical expenses," Aho explained.

This is a huge problem for an operation that is largely dependent on generosity. The bulk of the shelter's budget — a whopping 55 percent — is based on donations. Another 27 percent comes from fundraisers. Adoption fees account for 14 percent of the budget. Surrenders, membership and grants each bring in 1 percent of the shelter's income.

In an effort to find forever homes for the kittykats, the shelter has placed all of them on sale for $35.

The reduced adoption fee "certainly doesn't cover the entire cost, but should help," Aho said.

The "Fabulous Fall Feline" sale continues through Oct. 31.

Five pregnant stray cats arrived at the shelter, all giving birth within a week, reports staff member Rachelle Kern.

"This overabundance of pets is a problem for the community," Aho said, encouraging pet owners to have their animals spayed or neutered.

The Headwaters Animal Shelter has established a community-wide SNAP Fund, where, thanks to a grant, it only costs $40 to spay or neuter. Proceeds from a Herberger's Community Days coupon booklet also benefits the shelter's spay/neuter program.

As of the end of September, the shelter accepted 149 dogs and 165 cats this year. Ninety-six dogs and 89 cats have been adopted in 2017. Another 63 lost pets were returned to their owners.

Since the shelter opened in 2003, some 2,156 dogs and 2,037 cats have been re-housed.