Hundreds of cats in Independence are looking for new homes, and local officials are eager for them to find those homes.

Jackson County Chief Operations Officer Shelley Temple-Kneuvean says county officials will meet with Independence officials following a state citation of the Regional Animal Shelter for having too many cats but said the immediate focus is on getting cats adopted.

“Right now we’re just focusing on, let’s get that population down,” she said.

The shelter has stopped taking in cats, and the city has opened a temporary shelter at an old fire station. Temple-Kneuvean said it’s unclear who will ultimately pick up that cost. The county owns the shelter on Missouri 78 and contracts with the Great Plains chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to run it. The city and county have an agreement for the shelter to take all strays and surrendered pets from Independence. The shelter also takes animals from Sugar Creek, Buckner and unincorporated areas of the county.

The county has stopped collecting cats from incorporated areas except for cats that have bitten someone or otherwise pose a health threat, Temple-Kneuvean said.

The shelter, which opened in the spring of 2013, is designed for 100 cats. The SPCA can take steps such as keeping mothers and kittens together to go up to 175 and still be comfortable, Temple-Kneuvean said. But the shelter has 400 cats plus another 110 in foster care.

“So they’ve exhausted their contingency plan,” she said.

She pointed out that the SPCA has highlighted concerns about the cat population for a long time, a problem that tends to be the worst in the summer.

“The numbers are just higher than anticipated,” she said.

Most of those animals are coming from Independence. Of the 510 at the shelter and in foster care, 72 have come from unincorporated areas of the county and fewer than a dozen from Sugar Creek and Buckner, according to Temple-Kneuvean. The rest are from Independence, she said.

She also said the SPCA has been doing a good job, getting the average cat in and out in about six weeks. The shelter has adopted out more than 600 cats so far this year.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture cited the shelter earlier this month. Three citations could trigger stronger action. Inspections are unscheduled and not announced in advance.