Cats, cats, and more cats! In recent days, the kitten explosion we anticipated last spring but never materialized finally hit full force, and it came on top of the numerous mature kitties we'd brought in shortly before. So forgive us if we seem a little, well, cat-atonic!

All in all, in the last two weeks, P.A.W.S. has added more then 40 cats to its roster. We've made homes for them everywhere, not just in our communal cat rooms and kitty "condos," but in our offices, public bathrooms, and any other space we've had available.

But making room for the newcomers actually isn't our biggest problem. It's finding the money and supplies we need to take care of them all. A number of the kittens were found in an abandoned barn and came to us sick with upper respiratory infections; some have eyes that are completely shut or underdeveloped. These little ones need medication before they can be offered for adoption, and that costs money — lots of money. Each sick kitty requires about $200 worth of veterinary care, plus food, litter, and housing. And that's why, now more then ever, we need your help.

Financial donations are highly appreciated, of course, but we also desperately need food and other supplies. Under normal conditions, we go through about one bag of kitten chow per week, but now, we easily go through that much in a single day. In the morning and again in the afternoon, all of the kittens (and some of our older cats) get a bit of canned cat food, too. And litter boxes need to be cleaned and refilled daily — and if you've ever cleaned up after a cat or two of your own, you can just imagine how many pounds of litter (not to mention time and elbow grease) goes into housekeeping for 40.

We also need hands-on, practical help. It's so important to keep the shelter clean for the health of all our pets, and with so many furry friends under our roof, we can't seem to get it all done. if you don't mind hard work and getting a bit dirty, we would love to have your help with cleaning, especially in the mourning hours. You might help us do dishes, or fold laundry, or maybe clean litter boxes and cat rooms. Even if you have only an hour or two to spare, we'd be thrilled to have your help.

Last, but certainly not least, on our wish list is foster families. Some of the cats we've taken in are pregnant and urgently need loving homes in which to give birth without the stress of a shelter.

Forget that we also take great care of the cats and dogs that are already in our shelter or new ones that we took in just this weekend. For them shelter life continues just as it was and we need people to love and take care of them too!

If you can help us in any way — by donating, cleaning, fostering, or helping us love and care for all of our animals, including the dogs and other cats that were with us before the cat boom hit — we would absolutely love to welcome you to our team. You can drop off donations in our entry vestibule at 123 John St. in Camden; it's open 24 hours a day. Or, drop by during business hours to fill out an application to help out as a volunteer or foster-care provider. For questions, call 236-8702 We can't wait to see you!