The Laramie Animal Welfare Society has had a particularly busy kitten season this year with over 120 animals currently in foster homes.
That’s not counting the 141 cats they’ve already found homes for this year, and 135 cats placed in barns.
Vice President of LAWS Kelli DeCora said kitten season starts as early as April and lasts through October.
“A feral cat typically has three litters a year, so right now we’re just in that second litter of the year,” DeCora said. “We still have another wave of kittens to go, and it’s so hard at this time of year to help other kittens coming in because we’re full and we’re at capacity.”
Those who would like to adopt a kitten can fill out an application on the LAWS website, www.laramieanimals.org/adopt/. Those who are approved can visit the LAWS location on Second Street on “Caturday” Saturdays, including this weekend, to adopt a feline friend.
DeCora said those with an interest in adoption should “go ahead and fill out an online application” so they will be preapproved and ready to bring home the perfect kitten once they decide.
The nonprofit needs more than just families ready to adopt, however.
LAWS provides Albany County with a kitten foster and adoption program and pet re-homing, as well as funding animal medical care for the Laramie Animal Shelter in addition to the LAWS animals.
The group was founded in 1998 under the name Laramie Animal Shelter Foundation, changing its name to LAWS in 2013. While they support the LAS, they are not affiliated with the city.
Many kittens become available for adoption into loving homes, but DeCora said some of the older feral cats will transition to new barn homes or other outdoor arrangements more suited to their outdoor lifestyle.
The nonprofit also spearheads a trap, neuter and return program, which aims to spay and neuter feral cats to help avoid potential unwanted litters of kittens.
DeCora coordinates the TNR program and said its members have been working to spread the word and try to reach as many cats as possible.
“We definitely need help and support in that area,” she said. “I know of at least 120 cats in our community right now that need our help, and it’s not free to us, it’s expensive.”
DeCora and another volunteer or two work to trap, neuter and relocate cats to help fight unwanted kittens and diseases. Many of the cats are relocated from lower-income neighborhoods where families struggle to support them. Last year, DeCora live-trapped and relocated 117 cats out of a mobile home park where they were unwanted. She said they were able to eventually find a home for every one of them.
The group is limited, however, both in terms of resources as well as by city ordinance, which prohibits the release of feral cats within city limits.
“If there were feral cats in the city limits, we could set traps and fix them and find them placement outside (of the city),” she said, “but because of the animal at-large laws, we’re not able to TNR in the city limits. We’d love to change that.”
More than the donated items and time needed to support the hundreds of cats they rescue each year, the group’s members rely on volunteers in almost every aspect of its work; even the leadership team consists of volunteers.
“By supporting us and our efforts, you’re supporting people who need the most help,” said volunteer Jessica Evans. “Through helping the cats we’re helping people — everybody wins.”
Additionally, Evans noted volunteers are needed to help write grants and other less cat-intensive sides of running the nonprofit. Foster homes, too, are crucial – DeCora said due to the demand, each foster home right now averages over four kittens.
“We definitely limit the impact we have on the community if we didn’t have a foster base,” DeCora said.
Evans added the fostering program helps teach feral cats how to assimilate into a home and be socialized as well.
LAWS has big goals and dreams for the future, both for the county’s feral cats and for itself as an organization. Volunteer Andrea McGrath noted the group is working toward having a paid staff as well as its own building made to house more animals.
DeCora also wants to work toward a low-income spay and neuter program.
“That’s my ultimate goal,” she said. “Because I think with TNR efforts, if we could provide in-house, low-income spaying and vaccinating, we could take care of the cat population of Laramie.”
For those who can’t adopt the group has a PayPal account accepting monetary donations for veterinary bills and other expenses, the links can be found at www.laramieanimals.org/donate/. In addition, the group keeps an updated amazon Wishlist available for supplies needed to house kittens waiting for forever homes, which is also linked on their website.
Caturday this weekend is a special two-day event. On Saturday, the event runs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and on Sunday the event runs from 1-3 p.m.