At this time of year, Sheltering Hands, and all organizations that work with cat rescue, see a huge increase in pregnant cats and people wanting to get cats spayed or neutered. Since we began our Community Cats Program, we have spayed/neutered over 5000 cats! It seems like a huge number, especially for a small organization such as ours. However, those 5000 cats probably represent somewhere between 5-10% of the feral/community cat numbers in Marion and Levy counties! Working with a small core of incredibly dedicated volunteers, we are working as hard as we can to serve these cats and their caretakers.
People have asked why we don’t schedule more cats each day. The simple answer is that we schedule the number of cats based on the volunteer vets and support staff we have available on those days. Even with that, we seldom finish when planned. Often days run much longer than scheduled. When a cat comes into the surgical prep area, we often find additional issues such as wounds, parasites, skin conditions, etc. Sometimes we have even bigger issues where additional surgical interventions become necessary and what should have been a routine spay/neuter becomes a much longer set of procedures. We are committed to doing all we can to help each and every cat have the best possible outcome and so we give each cat as much time as is needed. We value each life that comes before us and we do what it takes. The $10 per cat we charge never comes close to covering the basic services we provide, much less any additional surgical procedures we perform.
We are currently scheduling our Community Cats spay/neuter services into October! Yes, we know many cats are pregnant right now. We know everyone wants their cats seen to quickly. Some people are frustrated by the wait time for our services and we understand that, but we are doing all we can. We hope one day more animal rescue organizations will support a humane TNR approach in our area by providing ongoing spay/neuter services in meaningful numbers for these cats and the people who care for them. Until that day, we are here, giving it our all. Some days it feels like we are trying to bail the Titanic with a bucket, but we are still here, still caring and still doing our best. In our organization, that flea bitten old tom cat with open wounds and dirt all over him is giving the same love and care that a pretty, bright eyed adoptable kitten is given. We spend the extra time to clean him, dress his wounds, and show him the dignity and love that he deserves, but never got. Why do we do it? Plain and simple, he counts, they all count.