On Thursday March 4, I got off work around 5 p.m. and walked to my apartment to be greeted by a small, female kitten. She had to have been at least a year or two old, she was so cute and tiny. Confused, I looked around or a possible owner outside.

No one was in sight. I asked my neighbors as they walked in and out of their apartments if the kitten belonged to anybody, but nobody claimed her.

My neighbors informed me that they had seen her around the complex for a couple of weeks. So, I took to social media to try and find the owner. I posted videos on my Snapchat asking if anyone is missing their pet. To my luck, everyone who slid up informed me that the kitten had been around the area since last summer.

As more information was given to me by my friends, I came to the conclusion that the kitten was a stray and in heat bassed off of her behavior. I called animal control and a nice Emporia Police Officer met me at the Emporia Animal Shelter at 1216 Hatcher St. to put the stray in an emergency kennel.

I would rather have her somewhere safe where she can receive current vaccinations, be spayed, have food, water and shelter rather than risk living outside with malnutrition, infection, be impregnated by male cats and contribute further to the stray problem in Emporia, be eaten by another animal or be hit by a car.

By the time I left the animal shelter, I got a notificationsaying I was accepted into the Facebook group for missing and found animals of Lyon County. I posted one video of her onto the page with information of where I found her and that she is safe at the shelter.

Almost immediately, I was harassed online for taking the

cat to the shelter. One person called me

names and said I was part of the problem. The person furthered this harassment by bothering other people who had also done the same thing

-- take an animal with no collar or prevalent owner to the shelter.

I was annoyed, to say the least, because I firmly believe that I did the right thing by saving this kitten’s life rather than just letting it be.

This person’s responses made one misconception very clear to me that I feel needs to be addressed -- Emporia’s stray cat problem. While the person said they were feeding stray cats in their neighborhood, I thanked them for that. However, they chastised me and called me names for taking the stray cat away from its natural environment and living in the wild.

I understand that to an extent, but cats that are not neutered or spayed will continue to reproduce until they die. Therefore, the stray problem will never go away -- in fact, it could only get worse.

That is where multiple programs have stepped in.

The Street Cats Club is just one program out of a handful of others in Emporia that are dedicated to helping the stray population. The Club is just

another program based out of the Humane Society of the Flint Hills. SCC will trap, neuter or spay, then return or foster stray cats. Cats can continue to live in the wild, like the person arguing with me pointed out, but they can also be fostered and find a loving home.

The main point to take away is neutering or spaying will help reduce the population. The person also pointed out that HSFH is underfunded, which is true, but there is one simple solution -- donate.

We are fortunate to have multiple programs dedicated to helping the problem and rescue animals. Do your research and if you can -- donate to these organizations.

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