YAKIMA, Wash. -- Found recently with both ears and most of her tail cut off, a small black cat from the Yakima Valley still purrs at the touch of a friendly hand.

Dubbed Courage by her caretakers at Seattle Area Feline Rescue, she was among several outdoor cats fed by an elderly man in the Yakima area. That’s a familiar situation throughout the Valley, home to an estimated 40,000 abandoned and feral cats — a population that increases even faster this time of the year, known as “kitten season” because more litters are born in the summer.

“She’s very friendly and trusting; she can’t help but purr when you pet her,” said Shelley Lawson, development and communications director for the nonprofit, which takes in adoptable cats and kittens from the Valley along with its West Coast rescues.

Courage arrived at the Seattle rescue on June 25, a week after staffers first heard her story from volunteers with a private rescue group.

“You have cats show up, cats breed, then you have more cats. He was doing the best he could to take care of the cats on his property,” Lawson said.

One of those cats was Courage. Rescuers don’t know exactly when someone inflicted her injuries; the homeowner said that within the past few years she disappeared for a while before returning, bloody from injuries clearly made with something sharp.

“The cuts are very clean,” Lawson said. “He gave her first aid and he did the best to take care of her. The wounds closed up. It was a hard life for her, living outside and trying to recover, and taking care of kittens too.”

Staff at the Seattle rescue estimate Courage is about 7 years old. She faces several medical challenges — she’s underweight and needs several teeth pulled. She has ear infections from her ears not being protected, and she needs to be spayed.

“And she may have something going on with her eyes. We’re not entirely sure,” Lawson said.

Now in foster care, Courage is receiving about eight different doses of medication daily. She won’t be strong enough for surgery for at least a few weeks, and it could be a couple of months before she’s ready for adoption.

“She has a safe home with us here as long as she needs,” Lawson said. “Here in Seattle we’re fortunate — we have really strong spay and neuter programs and a lot of adopters. Sometimes there’s more adopters than cats.

“Usually we take in cats every week from the Yakima area. We have so many adopters ... we’re able to reach a little further afield.”

Those interested in adopting Courage can email adoptions@seattleareafelinerescue.org, but there has been some interest already, Lawson said.

“I think she’s probably going to get a home pretty quick once she’s ready,” she added.

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