A toast to cats

An upcoming craft beer and pupu tasting — Kauai Community Cat Project’s debut fundraiser — is a sign of the growing success of the island’s only feline-centric nonprofit organization.

That, and its growing needs.

In the last three years, the donation-driven KCCP has doubled its annual monies raised to $80,000, board member Basil Scott said. In that same amount of time, the 6-year-old organization has increased the number of cats it traps, spay or neuters and returns to managed cat colonies from about 300 cats in 2012 to 510 cats in 2014.

“The more cats we are taking care of, the more food we need and the more out-of-pocket expenses we have,” said KCCP employee Mary Wilder. “It’s a wonderful thing to grow, but then again, that’s why we need more support.”

The $35-per-ticket event, set for 2 to 5 p.m. on July 26 at Kauai Beer Company, is projected to raise several thousand dollars and generate awareness about the program’s mission to manage the island’s feral cat population, which is estimated to top 15,000 animals. Event organizers also hope an afternoon at the brewery will help KCCP grow its small core volunteer base.

There are currently just a handful of volunteers and part-time employees doing the trapping, spaying and neutering.

An estimated 5,000 feral cats live in the island’s interior, according to Wilder. At least twice that many dwell in neighborhoods, shopping centers, beach parks and resorts, she said. Those cats that are visible in residents’ daily lives are the ones on which KCCP focuses its efforts.

KCCP spends about $50 on each cat that it traps, spays or neuters and returns to a managed feral cat colony, Scott said. Cats deemed suitable for adoption typically cost the organization $100, though those with medical needs can cost several hundred dollars.

“If the cat can be saved, we will save the cat,” Scott said. “Sometimes a cat with a missing eye or a gimpy leg turns out to be the sweetest pet.”

KCCP also removes young kittens who have been dumped and places them in foster care. Young kittens can typically be socialized and adopted.

“We catch outdoor cats and help people with outdoor cats that they may be feeding by getting those cats spayed and neutered so they can’t continue the population explosion that keeps the island so full of cats,” Scott said.

KCCP recently launched a new partnership with Alaska Airlines to ship adoptable kittens to the Mainland. On Tuesday, eight kittens were flown from Lihue Airport to a shelter in Seattle. Five of them have already found new owners. The shipment cost KCCP about $1,000.

“We find ourselves not only doing the trap, neuter, return routine, but also rescue,” Scott said. “We rescue kittens and adult cats and get them adopted out. So each year we’ve been able to handle more animals because each year we have more money coming in.”

The number of volunteers, however, has remained about the same.

“We desperately need more volunteers,” Wilder said.

At the fundraiser there will be a pairing of three craft beers and three pupus included in the ticket price. A silent auction, photo booth and music by DJ Shootz are also part of the mid-afternoon affair.

And, of course, there will be cats. Adoptable kittens and adult cats will be on hand as well as photos of other felines available.

Tickets to event are available for sale through Saturday at Kauai Beer Company and at kauaicommunitycats.org. Due to space limitations, tickets will not be sold after Saturday.

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