It's National Spay & Neuter Awareness Month and World Spay Day (February 22) and Woods Humane Society is raising funds for, and awareness about, one segment of the local pet population that needs the community’s help most: unowned cats.
According to Dr. Leslie Sklena, Woods Director of Veterinary Medicine, unowned “community cats” are perhaps the most voiceless and helpless of all of the homeless animals in our community. “They go unseen,” she says, explaining that some of these cats are feral, while others are friendly neighborhood visitors, roaming freely outdoors. “People don’t always get to pet them or cuddle them,” she says, but they need help nonetheless.
Thanks to our donor-supported Project M.E.O.W fund, Dr. Sklena's team at Woods sterilized and treated 1,467 community cats last year alone—a number that represents only a fraction of those in need of veterinary services.
Many of the cats came to one of our two low-cost clinic locations, in Atascadero and in San Luis Obispo, on a monthly Tip It Tuesday, a day devoted to providing community cats with a spay/neuter surgery along with an identifying ear-tip and a rabies vaccine—all for the steeply reduced fee of $25.
Local Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) organizations and Good Samaritans bring in the community cats for what is presumably their first and only veterinary appointment of their lives. For this reason, Woods’ medical staff takes the time to thoughtfully assess and treat each individual feline. Dr. Sklena’s team, for instance, has helped community cats in need of tail amputations or wound sutures before being re-released, and have identified more social cats and kittens that were candidates for Woods’ adoption program.
One such unowned cat, Sequoia (pictured), quickly won the hearts of the Woods team recently with her sweet demeanor. Thanks to Project M.E.O.W., she received extensive treatment for a broken leg that might have otherwise gone untreated, and ended up getting adopted by a staff member.
Woods says that the population of community cats can grow quickly without TNR efforts and subsidized spay and neuter programs: Cats can start reproducing at just five months of age, and can have up to three litters per year. In advance of kitten season, which begins in the spring, and in honor of World Spay Day, we are asking the community for help keeping the Project M.E.O.W fund high enough to meet the local need to help cats like Sequoia and thousands of other nameless felines in our county.
Donations to support Project M.E.O.W. can be made at WoodsHumane.org/donate/project-meow/. For more information about scheduling a subsidized surgery for a community cat, visit WoodsHumane.org/spay-neuter/community-cats/. Woods Humane Society also provides low-cost medical services for publicly owned pets and for the homeless dogs and cats available for adoption at Woods or at SLO County Animal Services. All told, our clinics altered 6,195 animals last year. For information about scheduling a spay or neuter surgery for owned pets, please visit SpaySLOCounty.org.