When the animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana, was overwhelmed with cats and kittens, the police department came to the rescue. Not only did law enforcement officers hold a drive, collecting cat food and kitty litter for the mewling residents, they also offered human residents an option for their parking tickets: They could pay their fines with cash the old-fashioned way, or they could pay in the form of cat supplies.

"We're in dire need of supplies for the large volume of cats/kittens being cared for here at MACS, and they keep pouring in our doors," Muncie Animal Care and Services wrote on Facebook.

The shelter typically cares for about 350 cats and kittens.

For a week in July, people could pay their tickets in cat food, kitty food or kitty litter in the amount of their ticket.

"The @MuncieACS is overrun with cats and kittens. We want to help!" the police department said on Twitter.

The campaign certainly seemed to work as the department posted photos on Facebook of piles of donations in the shelter's supply room. There were bags and bags of food and kitty litter piled high all over the room.

"A lot of people have donated cat food and litter this week! Most of these people didn't even have a parking ticket," the police department tweeted. "@MuncieACS can always use pet supplies! We are glad this week's unique promotion helped spread the word! Thanks Muncie!"

And fans in Indiana and from all over the country thought the donations-for-tickets idea was a spectacular idea.

Carlos wrote, "I must admit, not typically a fan of most law enforcement. However this act of compassion for animals by the Muncie Police, I now have new found respect and admiration! Kudos!!"

And many agreed with Pamela Ives, who tweeted, "This is a lovely extension of the Protect and Serve motto. Thank you for thinking outside the (litter) box."

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

Police think outside the (litter) box to help cats
Muncie, Indiana, police department lets residents pay off parking tickets with donations to the local animal shelter.