Have I told you, ever since I began working helping cats, how much I hate summertime? Especially in August. We live in this bizarre world where things happen that just shouldn’t be happening.
Spaying and neutering cats is a relatively simple job. We hear that veterinarians and technicians are exhausted, stressed, and overworked. If this is the case, then wouldn’t it make sense for more technicians and veterinarians to work for high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter (HQHVSN) clinics? These are clinics where you can go home at the end of the day and leave the clinic behind. The techniques are so safe, that the rate of complication is extremely low.
Our jobs should be at the top of the list for most popular jobs among veterinarians and technicians who want to do the most for animals, while also maintaining a work life balance.
When I scroll through social media and see all of the appeals for kittens out on the street needing rescue help or cats that need TNR, my stomach just drops. I feel for the cats and kittens, and understand I might be looking into the eyes of some suffering. Our cat and kitten supply is just plain too high in the summer! Time for me to go off social media.
The best social media post is a picture of an area that had lots of cats, and now through TNR there are none. These locations exist, just like in Newburyport, MA. Lowell, MA has incredible numbers, as does the MSPCA in Massachusetts. There are even more examples of successful TNR in the presentation by Bryan Kortis, National Programs Director at Neighborhood Cats, titled Return-to-Field and Targeting: The Community Cat Program. See the full presentation for free on YouTube here.
Everyone is overworked and stressed out. We know this is going to happen every summer, so why does it feel like a surprise every year?
We could stop this craziness if we prioritized access to spay/neuter in all of our communities.
Many of you have read and heard me get on this soap box many times. I still believe strongly in the Community Cat Pyramid. If our communities don’t have the appropriate volume of affordable, accessible spay and neuter services, I don’t care how much TNR you are going to do, you will still be swimming against the population tide. We call these areas spay/neuter deserts.
I am thrilled to see new projects and clinics starting up, like Flatbush Cats in New York City; Sniptember partnerships from Cal Animals throughout California; the Community Cat Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia; Frankie’s Friends in New Kensington, Pennsylvania; Rascal Unit, a mobile unit serving Ohio; and others. (Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if you are part of a new spay/neuter initiative, and we’ll be sure to add you to our growing spay/neuter directory!)
I also want to reach out and thank those clinics that have soldiered on and flourished. We have leaders in the community that we can turn to. Model programs, like Alley Cat Advocates in Louisville, Kentucky; Planned Pethood International in Conifer, Colorado; All About Animals Rescue in Warren, Michigan; and many others.
To be successful and increase the effectiveness of our spay/neuter programs, we need to be creative in our solutions:
- Feline Fix by Five
- Learning and implementing HQHVSN techniques in all veterinary clinics
- Brick-and-Mortar HQHVSN clinics
- MASH and/or Blitz HQHVSN Clinics
- Mobile Clinics
And most importantly, realizing that spay/neuter is public health for pets. It is the onramp to access to care.
The United Spay Alliance team is hard at work, putting together our online conference to be held October 13-15. If you understand that access to spay/neuter is critical to the reduction of overpopulation for cats and dogs, then this is the conference to attend. And we need you to get involved with USA, help us advocate and educate, and be part of this movement.
If you are an organization or individual that is living in a spay/neuter desert and want to be part of the solution, reach out to the United Spay Alliance. We are here to connect you with like-minded local and national resources that can help you build the spay/neuter services that you need in your community.
We just shouldn’t have to deal with all of these kittens in August!