The Northeast Missouri Humane Society is at capacity with 161 cats with just 34 kennels, and staff members are working on plans to help more cats find homes through a “working cat” program and spreading the word about cats that are ready for adoption.

Janet Smith, executive director of the NEMO Humane Society, said large populations of stray, abandoned and feral cats are an issue across the nation — and it takes an entire community to address the issue. Feral cats shouldn't be fed, or they'll lose their ability to hunt food, cats need to be neutered or spayed and Smith recommended adopting cats at the shelter rather than in a parking lot or online. NEMO Humane Society board member Carrie Fogle and fellow staff members planning and researching potential funding for a “working cat” program for cats who are best suited for outdoor environments.

“Some cats just don't want to be inside, curled up by the fireplace,” Smith said. “They're just like some dogs — they need a job.”

Because there is no more space for cats at the shelter, it's more difficult for staff members to care for all them all. Everyone has been bit at least once, Smith said — staff members are required to see a doctor immediately to prevent infection or other complications. Smith said the spay/neuter assistance program is a vital part of working to solving a community problem of cat overpopulation — a male and a female cat can reproduce with 150 cats between them and their descendants in two years. Within eight years, the two cats and their descendants total 2,072,514.

Smith said the shelter is always full of cats, and all of them are scared when they arrive at first. If a cat is feral, it cannot be tamed or adopted. But many cats overcome their fear after they are brought to the shelter by a Community Service Officer. There are many cats ready to be adopted, and it costs the NEMO Humane Society more than the $40 adoption charge to provide the necessary vaccinations and veterinary treatment. Smith stressed that every staff member's goal is to save as many cats as possible.

“We just want them to get good homes,” Smith said. “They're all ours — all of the animals become ours once they're our pets. It's hard to see these animals just waiting for a new home, when we know they are great animals, and they would benefit and enrich people's lives if they were adopted.”

NEMO Humane Society staff members regularly post pictures and information on their Facebook page about dogs and cats that are ready for adoption. With planning underway for a working cat program, the employees are looking forward to the opportunity to help more cats find the right home.

Staff members will hold a bucket brigade to help raise money for the forthcoming program during the Halloween parade Saturday, Oct. 26. More information about adopting a cat or dog, donating to the NEMO Humane Society or the working cat program is available by calling 573-221-9222, emailing or visiting or their Facebook page.

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