Derby Non-profit Is All About The Cats

by Kevin Burton

   Look, these are cats. They’re not going to admit it or act like it, but some of them really do need you.

  Could be their first human contact wasn’t such a good one.  It happens.

   You have a story unique to you, right? So do the kitties.

   There is a place in Derby, Kansas where these stories unfold into happy endings. It’s called Save The Kitties. Now you know the name, and you know what Hannah Spelts is all about. 

   She’s a cat’s best friend, the force behind the tiny non-profit with six board members and a handful of volunteers.

  Spelts had cats growing up but the first few were outdoor cats. Then came the one cat that found her way inside the house and inside her heart.

     That favorite cat, Cleo, had to be put down when Spelts was 17.   “She was the first cat I ever really connected with. Our first inside cat,” Spelts said. 

   That started something, a passion that continues to this day.

   “When I moved into my first apartment,   the first thing I did was get three cats,” Spelts said. “I still have all of those cats.”

   Her first efforts to save cats came in 2018, dealing with feral cats living and breeding near the Englewood mobile home park.  She would trap them humanely get them fixed and release them back to their neighborhood “to the life they were used to,” she said.

   There have been changes since. She operated as a foster agency for a time. Then Spelts opened a mobile home as a place to house and rescue cats.

   In July they moved to their present location at 233 S. Georgia Ave., Suite B, in Derby. The agency now primarily works with domesticated cats. 

   As you can imagine, a day in the life of Save The Kitties could bring anything.

   On a recent day Julie Ward arrived at Save The Kitties in search of a playmate for her four-year-old cat. 

   “Then I saw this lovely tabby cat sprawled out across the books and literature on one of the tables,” Ward said.

   Now that king of the shelter, eight-month-old Milo, is a well-adjusted king of the house, or so he thinks. 

   See there, happy ending.

   But it started with Milo being dumped off on a local highway, Ward said.  That’s the difference being made by Save The Kitties.    

   “I ran across them on Facebook,” Ward said. “I like to support the smaller organizations.”

   “It was easy. I spent maybe an hour and a half in their facility playing with all the kittens,” Ward said. “I was treated well when from the time I walked in. It seemed like they cared a little bit more about the cats.”

   “Adopt don’t shop,” is Ward’s message to fellow cat lovers. “Adopt the ones that really need a home.”

   Adoption rates are $65 for kittens, $50 for older cats. Adult cats (those six months of age or older) have all their shots. Kittens have shots as appropriate to their age.  Adoption fees are just one way Save The Kitties makes ends meet.

   It takes sixteen 32-pound bags of cat food every month to feed the cats Spelts said.   Rent is $1,200 per month and that does not include utilities. According to the group’s Facebook page an air conditioner malfunction caused the current electric bill to spike by about $400.  

   Such a small non-profit is always on the razor’s thin edge of survival, just like the cats the group seeks to rescue.   

   “A lot of people do donate food but we also need monetary donations” Spelts said.  

   “Other ways you can help are stopping by our storefront Friday-Sunday and supporting us by buying merchandise, adopting kittens or even just donating,” reads the Facebook page.

   Save The Kitties is having a movie night fundraiser at Derby Plaza Theatres Friday, Sept. 10. Tickets for the showing of “Secret Life of Pets, 2” are $10 with funds going toward care and feeding of the animals. 

   You will need to pay ahead of time on PayPal. The account to use is  

     If you can’t make movie night Friday but want to help, check the Save The Kitties Facebook page for future events and volunteer opportunities. You can also get in touch by e-mail at

   Saving our youngest feline friends is a never-ending job, but a labor of love for Spelts.

   “I didn’t realize what I was signing myself up for by any means,” Spelts said, then lists all the hats she now wears. “I have a ton of responsibility I never thought I would have. But all the work is definitely worth it.”

   “It’s a neat little agency. I think they’re going to do some great things for the community,” Ward said.

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