Crawling with cats

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A kitty comes through a portal connecting kennels at the Kauai Humane Society shelter near Puhi.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kitties interrupt their morning nap to check out potential adopters at the Kauai Humane Society shelter near Puhi.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A pair of kitties relax in their kennel at the Kauai Humane Society shelter near Puhi.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A kitty awaits adoption in its pen at the Kauai Humane Society shelter near Puhi.

PUHI — Summer months mean kitten season on the Mainland, and while Kauai Humane Society says they don’t get the same dramatic increase in kittens, the shelter’s cat cages are full.

“On the Mainland, cats and dogs do not produce as often in the winter due to the weather,” said Laura Lee, development director at KHS. “We do see an influx of more kittens and puppies this time of year, but not as extreme.”

Still, as of last Monday there were 87 cats and kittens at KHS that need homes — 33 of them are available for adoption at the KHS facility and 54 of them are staying with foster families around the island.

KHS staff members suggest the public carefully observe wild or found kittens before gathering them up and dropping them off at the facility.

“If you see some kittens by themselves, please observe them first,” Lee said. “Many times, the mom cat is getting food and will come back to the kittens.”

If you think the kittens have been abandoned after 24 hours of observation, then try and rehome them. A trick is to place a can of food next to the kittens and wait.

“If the food has been eaten, most likely it was the mom cat,” Lee said.

KHS doesn’t take kittens under two pounds at the facility because the care needs for small and unweaned kittens are too high and beyond the shelter’s resources.

People who bring in cats that are unweaned or weigh under two pounds are given resources and suggestions on how to care for the kittens, which includes bottle feeding them every two hours, including through the night.

“If people cannot take care of the kittens, then we will let them know there is a chance for euthanasia,” Lee said. “We will ask our foster families if they are willing to take on the kittens. We strive to save every animal, but do not have the resources to do so.”

KHS is actively recruiting foster families so they can use resources to house kittens, cats and other animals that come into the shelter.

“We are always looking to add to our list of foster families,” Lee said. “Those who are interested must take the volunteer orientation, held every second Saturday of the month, and must meet with the foster team prior to fostering.”

While there has been a slight influx of cats and kittens at the shelter in the past few months, it’s still less than the 75 cats housed at the shelter in June 2017.

During that time, KHS had a call out for temporary foster homes and was waiving the volunteer orientation requirement in order to get space for all the felines coming into the shelter.

Summer vacation also caused a stressor on the shelter because many foster families were off-island.

This year the numbers are a little lower, but KHS still took a few steps to gear up for the potential spike in the number of cats.

“To prepare prior to this time of year, we transfer as many kittens, puppies, cats and dogs as we can to make room for those that come in because we are limited on our ability to transfer to our Mainland shelter partners,” Lee said.

That’s because those Mainland shelters are chock-full of their own kittens and puppies in the summer months.

KHS also focuses on spay and neuter education and offers low-cost surgeries to help control the cat population on Kauai and keep as many in homes as possible.


Jessica Else, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at

  1. Paul Loizeaux July 2, 2018 3:05 am Reply

    If the Kauai Humane Society had not stopped their inexpensive feral cat neutering program, the proliferation of kittens would be much less. I support TNR (trap, neutering, release) of feral cats.

  2. gordon oswald July 2, 2018 7:15 am Reply

    When I see a cute little kitten or cat, I see 50 dead Shama’s, Doves, Japanese White Eyes, Meadow Larks etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love cats and have two wonderful little family members. But we need to choose, which we would rather live without, cats, or birds many of which are endangered on Kauai? We need a humane way to solve the problem, and I’m afraid no one will be happy with the solution, or lack thereof.

  3. PauloT July 2, 2018 9:34 am Reply

    How sad that so many unwanted kittens are born. Even sadder that some refuse to have their pets neutered. There are innocent animals being euthanized all the time.

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