By: Sarah A. Neikam, Operations Manager

Last week, SPCA staff found a crate sitting in front of our Marr Education & Training Center door. Inside was a beautiful calico female cat and seven three-week-old kittens, thankfully clean and in healthy condition. Attached was a note: “I found this momma cat exactly (3) weeks ago. They were born the next day. I cannot have cats, and I’ve been trying so hard to find a foster. I’m sorry. I really tried. I’ve been calling her Stella.”

The week before that, at the same door, a staff member found two cat carriers containing another female cat with three kittens, along with three six to eight-month-old cats.

In July, a single kitten was found, left in this same spot. And two female rats were found abandoned at our front door not long before that.

There have been other “cat drops”, usually at the same door and almost always outside of business hours. Last year, there were several drops of cats in mesh laundry hampers with dry cat food scattered inside.

First, I want to say thank you to the people leaving these cats (and rats) at our door. You could have easily left them in a parking lot, a wooded area, or on the side of the road, like plenty of people have done before. Instead, you chose to leave them where they would receive care and food and eventually be adopted into a loving home.

But – there are better ways to go about the surrendering of pets or strays, and there are options to prevent the need to do so. Our animal care staff want you to know that it’s stressful for the cats to be left alone for several hours, and it could be unsafe, depending on the weather and what other animals are roaming outside of our building.

Perhaps you dropped them off because you heard that all the animal shelters were full and you thought we wouldn’t agree to take them in. Or because the kittens were sick and you couldn’t afford the vet bill. Or maybe you just felt bad for having to bring them at all, and didn’t want to risk judgement.

Yes, we are full, especially with cats. We are a limited admission shelter, which means that we only have so much space, so many people and limited resources to care for the cats and kittens who keep coming in. And since we don’t euthanize for space, that means that we have an obligation to care for the animals already in our care before taking on more. If this means that we aren’t able to take in your cats or kittens, we will do what we can to work with you to find another option, or help you hold onto them until we do have space.

Some of the cats found at our door were sick, and are now receiving treatment. Our veterinary team is happy to help sick animals, it’s what they do, but bringing a sick cat or kitten into an already crowded animal shelter, puts every single feline at risk and puts more pressure on our veterinary team who are already caring for a shelter full of animals and a clinic full of client’s pets.

If you have a sick pet and are considering surrender because you can’t afford the vet care, call our Veterinary Care Center to see how we can help. Our rates are affordable and we offer a walk-in clinic. If it’s a sick stray or kittens, call our shelter before bringing them so we can let you know the best action to take to save them more stress and protect our shelter pets.

Our Veterinary Care Center also offers very affordable spay and neuter rates and you may even qualify for a spay/neuter voucher, bringing the price down to just $15-$20. There are even low cost or free options to get stray cats fixed through Aiken’s City and County TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs. Spay/Neuter is the only way to ensure you’re never faced with having to drop off another litter of kittens, and the only way to prevent more sick kittens from suffering outside.

Finally, if fear of judgement is what kept you from bringing the cats inside and facing our staff, please remember that the cat’s wellbeing is your priority, just as it is the priority of our staff. We may be busy, we may be tired, but we know you’re trying to help and if you’ll work with us, we’ll do whatever we can to help.

The SPCA Albrecht Center’s animal shelter can be reached at 803-648-6863 or find information at The Veterinary Care Center can be reached at 803-648-6864 or find prices and information at

Sarah Neikam has been with the SPCA Albrecht Center since 2012 serving first as Volunteer Coordinator, then Digital Media Manager, followed by Marketing Director and now Operations Manager. Sarah lives in Aiken with her husband Tom and their three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady plus three “former feral” cats: Willow, Big Boy & Phoebe.

The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a private, nonprofit, no kill animal shelter in Aiken, SC. The SPCA also operates a local Thrift Store (“Where Shopping Saves Lives”), a public, affordable Veterinary Care Center & a Dog Park. It is our mission to improve the lives of companion animals by rehoming abused, abandoned, and neglected pets while fighting for their well-being through vigorous legislative efforts, humane education, and by offering affordable veterinary care for all.