Juneau shelter seeks foster homes for 50 cats removed from single residence

Kittens cuddle together at Juneau Animal Rescue on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Juneau Animal Control Officer Karen Wood opens the door to a small room swimming with tiny kittens. 

“So this is probably our biggest room,” Wood said. “We’ve got 16 kittens and three moms, so it’s going to stink in here.”  

That’s just one room that is housing an influx of cats. 

“We’re down to three empty kennels and I’m a little concerned because we’ve got to go out and get some more today,” she said. Later, she opens another room to a wall of quarantined adult cats, waiting to get better and get adopted. 

Juneau Animal Rescue removed more than 50 cats from a Juneau residence this month and still has more to bring in. Many are young kittens and many are sick.

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A kitten sits on a blanket at Juneau Animal Rescue on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

They have severe respiratory illnesses and parasites, but she’s optimistic they will all recover. Since the rescue, none of the animals have died. 

Wood said an extreme number of cats like this can start with just two unaltered adults. Cats in the same litter can breed with each other, and it can snowball from there. The cost to spay and neuter — and care — for that many cats would quickly become unmanageable. 

“It’s just so important, spaying and neutering — if two cats had been spayed and neutered, then we would have 52 less cats in one household,” she said.

She said this is the largest number of cats she’s seen in a rescue situation in her 10 years with Animal Control. And this influx of cats means Juneau Animal Rescue won’t be able to take more for a while, so people hoping to surrender a cat may have to wait longer than usual. 

She said she’s worried about moving all of these animals into homes, but that the kittens will likely be adopted quickly, and they can send cats to other parts of Alaska if they don’t get adopted here. 

“We work with Paws and Claws in Skagway and HARK in Haines, and even have sent cats up to Fairbanks,” Wood said. “So if we get to that point, we can talk to them about that. You know, if they’re here for months, obviously other places will take some.”

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A cat looks through the bars of its kennel at Juneau Animal Rescue on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Staff have had to shuffle cats around to make room to isolate the sick animals, but the undersized ventilation system means the other cats in the building aren’t fully protected, according to Rick Driscoll, the executive director at the rescue. 

“It’s really just some doors. That’s all we have,” he said. “From a best practices perspective we’d like to have multiple ventilation systems.” 

Juneau Animal Rescue is raising money to move to a bigger space. Driscoll said their current space is half the size recommended for an organization that serves so many animals. 

When the organization first posted about these cats, Driscoll said the community donated nearly $10,000 to help fund spay-and-neuter operations at a lower cost, and for the new building fund. 

“It was really overwhelming how many people chose to — within like a 12-hour period — donate money to help us with this particular situation,” he said.

More information about fostering animals can be found at juneauanimalrescue.org. The shelter is also offering highly reduced rabies vaccines for existing pets that live in homes where owners want to foster.

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

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