WATERVILLE — The Humane Society Waterville Area has more than 130 spayed and neutered cats and kittens at the Webb Road shelter that executive director Lisa Oakes hopes will find new homes Saturday at the Clear the Shelters event.

The fee for all adult cats and dogs will be waived, and kitten adoptions will be 50% of the usual $185 fee, according to Oakes. The event will be held noon to 4 p.m.

“We are absolutely packed to the gills with cats and there is no end in sight,” she said. “Including fosters, we have over 200 in our care. We are running out of room to show them, and it’s costing a ton to spay and neuter everyone.”

There has been a significant lack of adoptions this summer, and the shelter has been taking in cats and dogs from hoarding situations in places such as Unity, Palmyra and Canaan over the last two to three weeks, according to Oakes.

In one situation in Palmyra, a woman fled to Massachusetts, leaving nearly 25 cats in her home, as well as multiple dead cats, Oakes said. The Waterville shelter took the ones that survived.

A lonely cat catches some Z’s at the Humane Society Waterville Area on Tuesday. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“It was horrible,” she said. “We got all of them. They were all flea-infested, most of them were dehydrated, they were not well-socialized. They were all ages. The littlest one was about two weeks old, and she is in foster care at the moment and she’s doing really well.”

The shelter got multiple cats from a hoarding situation in Palmyra, and many animals from a case in Canaan, Oakes said.

“The gentleman just, year after year, let it get away from him and all it takes is one female and one male and you get kittens upon kittens upon kittens. We’ve taken in over 20 of his cats and kittens.”

The care needed for the animals, including medical attention, is straining shelter resources. Oakes is appealing to the public for help.

In the last two weeks the shelter has had more than 130 cats spayed and neutered. That means it will get a large bill for about $10,000 to pay for that, according to Oakes. She said the cost for spaying, neutering, vaccinating, testing, feeding and housing each cat or kitten is between $100 and $150.

“The most important thing we need is dry cat food,” she said. “We go through that so fast, and honestly, we need cash money because this is going to be about $10,000 for the spaying and neutering, between all the vets we have seen, and there is the cost of caring for them.”

Randy Trefyrthen plays with a cat Tuesday at the Humane Society Waterville Area. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, located in Westbrook, is helping by taking some of the animals as part of a litter share program, she said. The shelter sends cats to Westbrook and the Animal League keeps some, spays and neuters some and sends them back to the Waterville shelter at no cost, she said.

“We took 36 cats down this morning and, and I think less than half will come back,” Oakes said Tuesday. “We’ll have them back at the end of the day, and a litter of kittens will be available for adoption Thursday.”

For the past week and into this week, the shelter has been running a special where all adoption fees are half price. Over the coming weekend, the special will continue but will exclude puppies, Oakes said.

She encouraged people wanting to adopt animals to fill out adoption papers online before Saturday so they do not have to wait in line or fill out papers in the shelter’s lobby. She said they may even fill out papers in the parking lot before coming in if they wish.

The shelter serves 25 communities and operates on $660,000 a year and that is a “bare bones number,” according to Oakes.

The funds raised as part of the recent Save Your Shelter campaign helped the shelter stay in business, but more funds are always needed, she said.

“We raised over $250,000 and that kept us from closing, but we’re not far from it at all points still, because it’s continuing,” she said. “The bills keep coming, people want animals for free, and some animals stay for longer periods of time. It’s a struggle.”

A cat available for adoption hangs out on a book shelf Tuesday at the Humane Society Waterville Area. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Oakes said Anna Elander, a woman who pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals, a class C felony, will be sentenced in October, and shelter employees plan to attend the sentencing. In that case, about a dozen cats were found in October in Unity, locked in a storage shelter for 17 days with no food, water or cat litter.

“We’re very emotionally involved in the process, and I have three of the cats in my home,” Oakes said.

Other shelters also report having a lot of cats and kittens available for adoption this summer.

Hillary Roberts, executive director of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta, said that shelter is holding a Clear the Shelter event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and fees for all adult cats and dogs will be waived.

“In our care, including foster, we have about 200 cats and 75 in-house,” Roberts said Tuesday. “What we see is that this really happens every year at this time. We see an influx of cats and kittens in the late summer months.”

In the spring, a lot of cats are outside and mate and breed, she said. If they are not neutered or spayed, they produce kittens. In January or February, it is unlikely the shelter will have kittens, according to Roberts.

She encourages people not to overlook adopting adult cats, many of which are friendly and affectionate and have already developed personalities. She said the shelter also has about 60 dogs, including a couple of litters of puppies.

Overall, the number of animals coming into the shelter has declined, according to Roberts, who said that the shelter gets about 2,000 a year now, whereas 10 years ago, it would get about 4,000. She attributes the decline, in part, to spay and neuter programs that have been developed over time. Like the Waterville shelter, Kennebec also seeks creative ways to promote adoption and care for animals.

The Somerset Humane Society shelter in Skowhegan also has a lot of cats — 50 to 60, according to Mikayla Sproul, a kennel technician who also works the front desk there.

“It happens every year,” Sproul said.

She said there are so many cats and kittens at the shelter that employees are using spare dog kennels to house cats next to the cat rooms. The shelter also has a relationship with other shelters so that they may transfer cats, if needed, according to Sproul.