To spur cat adoptions at Riverside County’s three largest animal shelters, officials Friday announced the start of a game that, if played right, will enable visitors to adopt a feline for nothing.

“It’s all part of raising awareness of our serious cat situation — in a fun manner,” said Jaclyn Schart, a Department of Animal Services supervisor at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley. “To be blunt, we have too many cats. And no one is coming to adopt our cats. We need help. A lot of help.”

At the Jurupa Valley shelter, along with the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms and the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, “Cornhole 4 Cats” is now available for visitors to play, with a chance to win a free cat.

Agency spokesman John Welsh said the three shelters combined house nearly 300 felines in need of a home.

Welsh told City News Service that after he brought in a cornhole board, consisting of a raised wooden platform with a hole through which a bag can be tossed, a colleague hit upon the idea of turning it into a challenge to interest would-be adopters in taking home a furry friend.

“I brought my cornhole game to work as a kind of stress reliever for everybody,” he said. “Now it’s a promotion to encourage cat adoptions.”

The promotion is slated to last until the second half of August. Under the rules, a visitor to one of the three shelters can have four chances to toss a bag into the cornhole for a $1 donation. If during one of the four tries, the player puts the bag in, he or she will win a cat of their choice.

“This is all based on the honor system,” Welsh said. “None of our employees are going to be standing by, saying, `Nope, you missed your chance.’ People can play as many times as they want. And if it takes somebody 20 tries to sink the cornhole, we’ll take the $5 donation!”

The standard cost to adopt a kitten that’s eight weeks to four months old is $65. The fees for a cat that’s five months to a year old are $45, and for a feline that’s over a year, they’re $25.

All fees, including spay/neuter, licensing and microchipping, are waived for cornhole winners, officials said.

“We think anyone who tries will definitely leave smiling — and hopefully with one of our friendly fuzzies,” Schart said. “This fun way to adopt reminds us of the fun, playful spirit of all our felines.”

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