Fixing a minor cat-astrophe
Before I get started, I need to clear something up: The SPCA does not trap cats. I know we put out an advertisement that said we do, but we don’t. It was an oversight on my part, and I am really, really sorry. Sorry to the nice ladies that have called needing help trapping cats and super sorry to the clinic staff who have been fielding phone call after phone call and cleaning up this minor cat-astrophe due to my lapse in attention.
“What had happened was …” PetSmart Charities awarded us a grant to sterilize five different categories of animals throughout 2015 and to market those programs. In January, we neutered male pets. In February, we spayed female cats. In all cases, the marketing materials are provided by PetSmart and the content is non-negotiable. The materials are fabulous.
They are eye-catching and informative and best of all, they are done by someone other than me, which means I get to do something else. In my haste to get something else done, I overlooked the words “Our program humanely traps.” We don’t. (To be clear, we don’t inhumanely trap either. We don’t trap at all).
So what is it we do do? Well, we can loan a trap to someone willing to do the leg work. We can make recommendations of agencies and organizations that will physically come out and trap community cats. And once they are trapped by someone other than us, we will spay or neuter them, administer a rabies vaccination and give them a mandatory ear tip so they can be returned to the community from which they came. Best of all, thanks to PetSmart Charities, during the month of April, we will do all of that free of charge.
There is limited funding and thus limited availability for this project. As of Friday, April 10, we have about 40 spots left to fill. It sounds like a lot, but I bet you’d be surprised at the number of community cats out there. The best estimation is the human population divided by six. So the City of Aiken has about 5,000 community cats.
A more elusive figure is the number of community cats that have been spayed or neutered. At least by the end of April, we will be able to say, thanks to PetSmart Charities, community and animal control trappers, and the hard work of our clinic staff, 90 more will have been sterilized.
If you need help getting stray cats trapped, call the animal control agency in your jurisdiction (City 803-642-7620; County 803-642-1537) or call us (803-648-6863) to check the availability of loaner traps. If you intend to take advantage of the PetSmart Charities grant and have the cat(s) sterilized, take note of these procedures, please:
• The SPCA spay and neuter clinic is open Tuesday through Friday for surgery. That means traps are best set Monday through Thursday evening. No appointment is required for this program.
• Trapped cats need to be brought in for surgery by 8 a.m. in the trap. Stay safe! Do not remove stray, feral or community cats from a trap.
• The program is for community cats only. Ear tip and rabies vaccine is mandatory.
• The SPCA is trying to accommodate as many community cats as possible every day without jeopardizing our regular clinic business. As such, we have made space for approximately 10 cats on the surgery schedule every day until the 90 cat limit is met. The first 10 cats at the door at 8 a.m. will be guaranteed a surgery spot. We will try to make accommodations for any overflow, but there is no guarantee. If that day’s surgery schedule safely allows for more cats, we will do more. If not, we will work with you to make the best possible Plan B.
I have to say, I was really worried about this program from the start. It has a lot of moving parts, and there is a ton of room for upset clientele, inundated receptionists and overworked clinic staff. But I have to give a shout out to our community and to my co-workers. They are handling the whole thing beautifully, with empathy for each other and grace under fire. Between four and 13 community cats have been sterilized daily since the program began and except for the whole “but it says right here that you humanely trap” thing, there have been few hairballs and mostly very happy cats and people.
For more information about our program or other funny stories about how I messed something up, email development@LetLoveLive.org, call us at 803-648-6863, visit us in person at 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken or virtually at www.LetLoveLive.org.
Chrissey Miller, CAWA
SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare