Cumberland cat shelter population exceeds capacity

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CUMBERLAND — Demand for its service is so great right now that the Homeless Animal Rescue Team, an adoption center and no-kill shelter for kittens and cats, has recently had to turn away felines.

As of late last month the shelter had 130 cats, and more than 100 kittens were in care in foster homes, according to Sharon Bushey, HART vice president.

“We try to keep the shelter at 125, but we’re not always successful,” she said on Monday.

Bushey noted that more cats are expected in the next several weeks.

“As a no-kill shelter, with limited space, we must carefully balance how many cats we can accept while providing the best environment for the cats that are already in our care,” she explained.

Bushey said the overpopulation situation stems from kitten season being in full bloom and the fact that HART has received many homeless kittens along with their mothers.

“Also, we are assisting an overwhelmed cat-lover that has attempted to assist a large number of homeless cats on his own, and he has stretched his resources to the breaking point,” Bushey said.

She noted that the shelter’s participation in large-scale surrenders quickly stretches its funding and volunteers.

Bushey said the shelter has reached a point where it must turn cats away.

“We had a fellow come in that had gotten two strays that were like a year old, and we just couldn’t take them,” she said.

She also noted that cats that have been with HART and then adopted, but then need a new home, can return to the shelter.

“We would like to assist more of these kitties, but our space restricts us until more cats become adopted,” Bushey said.

The timing is right. June is Adopt-A-Shelter Cat Month, and to celebrate, HART has reduced its adult adoption fee for the month from $75 to $35. The kitten adoption fee is $75.

The shelter, a non-profit organization, also seeks financial donations to support the care it provides homeless felines. Donations can be mailed to HART, P.O. Box 351 Cumberland, ME 04021.

All the cats at the shelter, which is an open environment for its residents, are tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Each cat is spayed or neutered upon arrival and made current on its vaccinations.

HART is at the corner of Route 100 and Range Road. The cats can be viewed online at hartofme.com, or people can visit the shelter on Saturdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment; call 829-4116.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.