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Wednesday, August 9, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Many fabulous felines seeking good homes with fine families

Seattle Times staff reporter

In a back room of the Lynnwood-area PAWS shelter, next to buckets of industrial detergent and stacks of cardboard boxes, seven tiny kittens seem a little out of place.

Ten feet away, in a room once used to euthanize cats, a feline named Treki meows for attention and paws at the wall of his cage.

And on Ann Watkins' desk, right next to her paperwork and monthly reports, a palm-size black kitten rests on a heating pad, eyes half open.

Right now at the shelter, any room with extra space is filled with cats and kittens waiting to be adopted and taken home. Nearly 80 prospective owners come through each week, and almost half walk out with a new friend. But with 420 cats in waiting at PAWS alone, many could be waiting a long time.

Experiencing a dramatic influx of cats and dogs, animal shelters in King and Snohomish counties are filling fast, reporting more surrenders and strays than in previous summers. And with more coming in than going out, local shelters are desperately seeking permanent homes.

No one knows for sure what's causing the swell in population - everything from urban growth to mild winters are to blame, said Seattle Animal Control shelter manager Don Jordan, noting that as more strays survive the winter, more are able to reproduce come spring.

"Across the state, we are seeing more and more animals in shelters," Jordan said. "We're seeing the numbers starting to increase, and they have been over the last two or three years, but we don't know exactly why."

Jordan's shelter currently holds approximately 100 cats, twice the usual amount for this time of year.

At the King County Animal Control shelter, "We have lots of fabulous felines here," sang Vicki Schmitz, manager of animal services and programs. So determined to make adoption more appealing, the animal-control adoption center is boasting a two-for-one deal on cats this month and next.

"In a situation like this, we just need to adapt," said Richard Huffman, communications director for PAWS, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society.

Five years ago, PAWS stopped euthanizing animals it didn't have room for and has since done all it can to accommodate any animal that comes to the door.

This has meant turning storage rooms into sick rooms and canceling Doggie Daycare to make space for cats.

Along with bringing in hundreds of volunteers who put in countless hours of service, PAWS has accommodated its cat population by putting many in temporary foster care until permanent homes can be found.

"My son was happy having three kittens at home, and I learned a lot, too," said Diana Lillig of Lake Forest Park, who turned in her foster kittens Monday. "Overall it was a good experience, but it was sort of hard to bring them back."

Foster-care providers are supplied with food and necessary tools, and typically keep the cats for one to four weeks. There are more than 200 felines in foster care, and more foster homes are needed, said Watkins, PAWS foster-care coordi nator.

When efforts to adopt out cats or find foster care fail, euthanization is still viewed as a last resort for the Humane Society for Seattle/King County, said manager of public relations, Ingrid Sellie. In July 1999, the Humane Society euthanized 38 terminally ill or dangerous cats. Last month 68 were euthanized, but that increased number also represents the increase of sickly animals brought in. Of those 68, 46 were terminally ill or dangerous to people. The other 22 were "adoptable," but not likely to do well after being adopted.

While area shelters are doing what they can to make room and find homes for all their animals, preventive measures mean spaying and neutering all pets.

"Animals don't make their own appointments, so we need to educate the humans," PAWS Executive Director Kathy Kelly said.

Every animal is spayed or neutered before leaving the PAWS, Seattle Animal Control and King County Animal Control shelters, and the Humane Society adoption center.

In Seattle and King County, where animal licensing is required, a lowered licensing fee is available to spayed or neutered pets, and many shelters offer low-cost surgeries.

Sellie believes that a fixed pet today is a fixed problem for tomorrow.

"Especially with cats," she said, "because many people let their cats roam in and out, and their litters either end up running loose or in our shelter."

Lisa Rivera's phone message number is 206-464-3665. Her e-mail address is lrivera@seattletimes.com.

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The adoption process

Considering adopting? Here's where to look, what you'll get and what you'll pay.

PAWS

Lynnwood-area shelter:

15305 44th Ave. W.

Phone: 425-787-2500.

Greenwood shelter:

8503 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle.

Phone: 206-782-1700.

Adoption costs $75 for one cat, $115 for two. (Through Sunday, $50 for one, $75 for two.)

Cats come with identification chips and vaccinations and are spayed or neutered.

Web site: www.paws.org.

Seattle Animal Control

Interbay shelter:

2061 15th Ave. W.

Phone: 206-386-4286.

Adoption costs $50 for a male cat, $55 for a female.

Cats come with identification chips and certificates for free health checkups, have had vaccinations and have been spayed or neutered.

Web site: www.cityofseattle.net/rca/animal.

Humane Society for Seattle/King County

Bellevue shelter:

13212 S.E. Eastgate Way.

Phone: 425-641-0080.

Adoption costs $77 for cats more than 4 months old, $87 for cats under 4 months. (The cost is $38.50 for people age 60 and older who adopt cats 2 years old or over.)

Cats come with identification chips and vaccinations and are spayed or neutered.

Web site: www.seattlehumane.org.

King County Animal Control

Kent shelter:

21615 64th Ave. S.

Phone: 206-296-3946.

Bellevue shelter:

821 164th Ave. N.E.

Phone: 206-296-3940.

Adoption costs $60 per cat (during this month and September, $30 each).

Cats come with vaccinations and licenses and are spayed or neutered.

Web site: www.metrokc.gov/pets.

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Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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