COLUMBIA — Johnny has been at the Central Missouri Humane Society for 185 days.
That's a long time for a cat to spend at the shelter, employee Ashley Crocker said.
The longhaired orange tabby was placed in the shelter when his owner entered hospice care, and because Johnny was unaccustomed to other animals, he had trouble adjusting to the shelter.
"He seemed a little less adoptable," Crocker said. "People would say, ‘Oh, I want this cat to be my other cat's friend,’ and it's like, 'No, this cat is never going to be any animal’s friend.'"
Despite his disdain for other furry creatures, Johnny was adopted this month during the society's Whisker Wonderland adoption event, where people can name their own adoption prices on cats older than 6 months. Older cats are the hardest animals to find homes for, and that's why the shelter created an event to offer incentives to people adopting adult cats, Crocker said.
"Everyone loves a cute kitten, but there are cats that have been here for months and months on end," Shelter Relations Coordinator Colin LaVaute said.
Although summer is kitten season, Crocker said the shelter is usually full, with cats waiting for space, year-round. This month, though, is the first time the shelter has had an empty space in the cat room since March, she said.
"When people adopt they're saving a life, literally," she said. "Actually, they're saving two, the life of the cat they're adopting and the cat that gets that cage."
LaVaute said monthly adoption numbers tend to spike with events. Last summer, during the shelter's Famous Fosters event, 44 animals were adopted in one hour, which is the shelter's current record. As of Wednesday, nearly 2,200 animals have been adopted this year — 53 more than in 2011.
December is the first time the shelter has allowed people to name their own adoption price for an entire month, and the shelter is evaluating whether the deal has had a positive effect on adoptions, Crocker said.
Even though the event doesn't end until Monday, the Central Missouri Humane Society is already planning for future events. For example, Feb. 9 is the shelter's annual Fur Ball, where all adoptions are $14 in celebration of Valentine's Day.
"It's like the worst high school prom you've ever seen in your life," Crocker said. "We decorate the back of the shelter with disco balls and lights everywhere. The staff wears dresses and suits. Last year I literally had my bridesmaid's dress on from my sister’s wedding."
Because kittens are so abundant in warm months, planning is essential, LaVaute said. The shelter had more than 100 kittens in foster care last summer, so the more space the shelter can create now, the better the situation will be next summer.
"Just because we take less cats this time of year, doesn't mean we will stop being proactive in terms of finding homes," LaVaute said. "We always need to be coming up with fresh ideas to get people down to the shelter."
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