Juneau’s animal shelter has too many cats

A cat
Cats and kittens were at capacity at the Juneau Animal Rescue Center on July 21, 2022. (Paige Sparks/KTOO)

Juneau Animal Rescue has too many cats. To be exact, 142 cats have come in over 111 days.

The town’s shelter is asking people to consider taking in a new family member — temporarily or forever — and urging people to spay and neuter the cats they already have.

Executive Director Samantha Blankenship said the community stepped up after the shelter started posting to social media, but more help is still needed.

Samantha Blankenship holds a recently fixed cat at the Juneau Animal Rescue Center on July 21, 2022. (Photo by Paige Sparks/KTOO)

“We have been doing our best to get cats out to foster care and adopted as quickly as we can,” Blankenship said. 

She said this is the highest number of cats — and especially kittens — in need of homes that Juneau Animal Rescue has seen in two decades.

“I think we’ve had 12 or 13 litters in the past three months come in,” she said. “We also have other people with litters that we’re working with that haven’t even come into the shelter yet.”

This could be due in part to the lack of vets impacting the rates of spay and neuter procedures here in town, she said. 

“There is a nationwide veterinary shortage. So Juneau is being hit incredibly hard by that,” Blankenship said.

One of Juneau’s three vets, Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center, is closing at the end of the month. 

Historically, the shelter has been able to offer low cost spay and neuter services to those who qualify as low income, but they don’t have an in-house vet right now, and local vets have been very busy.

A little girl holds a kitten and looks at it adoringly
Keltah Dougherty and her grandmother look to adopt a kitten at Juneau Animal Rescue on July 21, 2022. (Photo by Paige Sparks/KTOO)

Laura Stats and granddaughter, Keltah Daughtery, stopped into Juneau Animal Rescue to adopt a kitten Thursday. 

Stats said it was a coincidence that they came in when the shelter was in need of more cat adopters.

“Well, today we’re thinking we want to adopt a kitten just because we think it would be a nice addition to our family,” Stats said.

Keltah was looking at a tortoiseshell kitten named Twilight Moon — or as she calls her, the Tiny One.

Blankenship said she hopes more families like Keltah’s will decide this is the right time to take in a cat. 

In the meantime, she wants Juneau residents to neuter and spay their pets as soon as they can. 

She also encourages people to keep them inside and away from other mature animals if they aren’t yet altered. 

Those interested in adopting can also visit juneauanimalrescue.org.

KTOO is our partner public media station in Juneau. Alaska Public Media collaborates with partners statewide to cover Alaska news.

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