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Warm summer leaves pets in cold

"Vicki Schmitz pitches the merits of Bruiser with a subtlety that matches that of the black and white cat, who reaches through the bars of his cage to paw at anyone who lingers.Woman and cat share a goal - to get the adult feline, who's been at the King County Animal Shelter a month, a permanent home.What a sweetie. Listen to that purr, Schmitz cooed at Bruiser before turning to Jodi Anderson and her 2-year-old son, Drew. I'm doing a sales job on you. Isn't he a sweetie?Bruiser and many other cats await homes, biding their time in 2-by-2 1/2-foot cages at the shelter or in foster homes. Some cages contain two or three cats because of the influx of kittens after a warm spring and summer conducive to breeding, said Schmitz, King County's manager of animal services and programs. King County Animal Control struggles to find homes for all those kittens - There's no end to kittens if we've had warm weather, and we've had a lot of warm weather this year, Schmitz said. But all of those furballs make it tougher to find homes for adult cats like Bruiser, who possess sweet dispositions and good looks but lack the Ahhh-power of kittens.The older guys have a harder time getting selected, Schmitz said. When people come down and see the kittens, they want them.King County is offering new two-for-one and half-off adoption programs to try to level the playing field for adult cats. The offers began in August and will continue until the cat population at the shelters levels out, Schmitz said.Through the programs, people can take two adult cats for one adoption fee of $60. Taking one adult cat is $30, which is half price, Schmitz said. The cats have initial vaccinations, are spayed or neutered and came with a King County pet license and safety collar.Introducing two cats into a home at the same time means they won't fight over territory because neither one has a chance to stake it out first, Schmitz said. Schmitz says adult cats already know how to use the litter box and the scratching post. They're also more likely to want to curl up on a person's lap and be a companion animal than a kitten. With kittens, she said, there's no end to the ways they can get into trouble.She speaks from experience. She owns three cats, two adults and one kitten. The kitten possessed a feisty spirit, while the adults displayed a gentle, calm nature immediately. The adult cats were easy, real easy, she said.In the cat room, a few cats sleep, sometimes piled on top of one another. Others bat at balls, poke paws through their cages or meow for attention. Schmitz's sales pitch and her comment that Bruiser has been here a month troubles shelter visitor Anderson, a 22-year-old Orting resident.You're not going to put him to sleep today, are you? she asks, scrunching her forehead and gazing into the cat's pale green eyes.He's been here a month: Take me, take me, Schmitz replies.Bruiser's time hasn't come, but not all cats are so lucky. Only 53 percent of cats and dogs taken to the Kent and Eastside shelters left alive last year. Forty-four healthy, adoptable cats and dogs were euthanized last year; the others were deemed unadoptable either because of disposition or medical conditions. In cats, that typically means respiratory ailments that cause the cats' eyes to tear.Anderson and her son are here to pick out a second cat to join their first, Harley, a 5-month-old grey kitty. Anderson says she's looking for a pet with a sweet nature and doesn't care if they take home a kitten or cat. On Monday afternoon, she leaned toward adopting an adult Himalayan curled up in its cage. But she struggled with her decision, also interested in a red cat that peered out of its cage at her.We wanted to adopt one instead of going to a pet store because they're going to be put to sleep, she said. You try to save one. It's really hard you can only take one. You know you leave one behind. On the other side of the small room, Kent resident Lyndell Myers, 37, and her two sons, Matthew, 8, and Eric, 5, gazed at Bruiser after getting a similar sales pitch from Schmitz. But the boys leaned toward getting a tiger-striped kitten in a cage underneath Bruiser's.The Myers wanted a cat to replace Tiger Kitty, a stray they had taken in but which disappeared a week ago. The family had bought all the necessary equipment and was about to get him licensed when he disappeared. Matthew fondly remembered the antics of the red cat.He was funny, Matthew said. Sometimes in the kitchen he skids (on the floor) until he stops.Myers says Tiger Kitty provided entertainment to both her sons.They'd get up and play with the cat instead of watching television, she said.Matthew studied the tiger-striped kitten. Hi, little guy, he said as the kitten meowed at him. Eric also wanted the kitten - He looks good, too. He's not too old, he told his mom.As with many people, the cuteness of the kittens won out over the sweetness of the adult cats, despite the King County Animal Control's special offers. But Matthew couldn't help but feel for Bruiser, even as he contemplated taking a kitten home.Someone has to adopt Bruiser, he told his mom. ------------------- To get a catAdoption hours at the King County Animal Shelter, 21615 64th Ave. S. in Kent, are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information, call the shelter's pet adoption counselors Sunshine Toledo and Lisa Fisher at (206) 296-3946. You can also visit the King County Animal Control website at www.metrokc.gov/pets/ Click on pet adoptions to learn more about the shelter's adoption program and to see what animals are available for adoption. -----------King County Animal Control by the numbersKing County Animal Control is euthanizing fewer healthy, adoptable cats and dogs each year, primarily due to more responsible pet owners and the county's foster program, said Vicki Schmitz, the county's manager of animal services and programs. The percentage of animals leaving King County Animal Control alive has risen from 26.9 percent in 1993 to 53.9 percent in 1999. Here are the figures for the last seven years:* In 1993, 1,802 cats and dogs were adopted. Of the 9,032 euthanized, 2,952 were healthy, adoptable animals while 6,080 were deemed unadoptable.* In 1994, 2,018 animals were adopted. Of the 8,738 euthanized, 3,154 were healthy and adoptable while 5,584 were unadoptable.* In 1995, 2,796 animals were adopted. Of the 7,936 euthanized, 1,421 were healthy and adoptable and 6,515 were unadoptable.* In 1996, 3,316 were adopted. Of the 7,617 euthanized, 1,132 were healthy and adoptable and 6,485 were unadoptable.* In 1997, 4,315 were adopted. Of the 6,606 euthanized, 299 were healthy and adoptable and 6,307 were unadoptable.* In 1998, 4,575 were adopted. Of the 6,572 euthanized, 140 were healthy and adoptable and 6,432 were unadoptable.* In 1999, 4,778 were adopted. Of the 6,105 euthanized, 44 were healthy and adoptable and 6,061 were unadoptable. "

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