Cat lovers, time to step up: The Marshmallow Foundation in Detroit Lakes could use some help.

The shelter had 86 cats at the end of last month, many more than usual.

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"We were doing really good the past few years," said Shelter Manager Cassi Ohman. "But this year it kind of exploded."

The Marshmallow Foundation, co-located with Lucky Dog in the North Industrial Park off Richwood Road, serves as the city pound for Detroit Lakes and a half-dozen smaller cities in the area, including Frazee, Lake Park, Audubon, Osage and Mahomen.

Part of the influx comes from an owner in Sebeka who died and left 30 rescue cats behind, "It was unusual circumstances," said Ohman, and the Marshmallow Foundation agreed to take the cats, which are generally friendly and in good shape.

The shelter has about 40 cats that have been neutered or spayed and are ready for adoption.

"We have a ton of awesome cats right now, and their behaviors are all just fun ... they love being around people," Ohman said.

Another 34 cats at the shelter (including several kittens) are in line to go through the medical process before they can be placed up for adoption, and there are 15 cats in local foster care at private homes, as well as another four cats at PetSmart in West Fargo, which helps the shelter adopt-out cats.

"That's where a lot of our adoptions come from - they're very, very helpful," she said.

To encourage cat adoptions, the Marshmallow Foundation has lowered its fee to $25 (plus tax) until the end of this month, Ohman said. The fee is usually $90.

The Humane Society in Detroit Lakes also has an overabundance of cats, Ohman said. In fact, shelters and rescue organizations in Fargo-Moorhead and the Twin Cities are also full, which is unusual, she said. Usually, the metro areas are able to absorb some of the rural overflow, since there are more people there looking to adopt. But lately Ohman has been getting calls from Fargo shelters asking if Detroit Lakes has room to take some cats.

"I think a lot of the shelters and rescues are very, very full on cats," she said. A low-cost spaying and neutering program is very much needed in the area, she said.

To help with the flood of felines, Marshmallow Foundation volunteers are fostering 15 cats in a half-dozen or so homes, Ohman said. "For me, fostering is one of the most rewarding things," she said. "It's good to see them come out of their shell, come out of the shelter, and be a cat or a dog again." The foster family gets to know the animal and is in a good position to let an adoptive family know its personality, quirks, likes and dislikes, which makes matchmaking easier.

"We're always looking for volunteers and foster families," Ohman said. "We have some amazing volunteers," who work with the cats and help socialize the shy ones. "Some of our live-trap cats wouldn't have made it without them," she added. People can apply at www.marshmallowfoundation.org.

And yes, dog lovers, the Marshmallow Foundation also has canines available for adoption - there are about two dozen dogs there now, including two puppies, Ohman said. "People are a lot more willing to adopt dogs than cats," she said.