Do you remember The Count from Sesame Street? His official name was Count von Count, and he was a Muppet modeled after Count Dracula, who's role on the show was to teach children beginning mathematics concepts, like adding and subtracting. Mostly, he enjoyed counting, and he counted anything and everything, regardless of size or amount.
I imagine The Count would be very happy if he were to drive up to the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare in his Countmobile and see how many cats we have to count. Because there are a lot - 180 to be exact.
There are 85 cats and kittens available for adoption as of today, and 95 more in holding rooms, waiting to be vaccinated, spayed or neutered and placed on the adoption floor for their chance at a loving, forever home.
Why so many? Where do they keep coming from? Well, here's an even bigger number to count: 420,000. That's how many kittens can be produced by a pair of unaltered cats and their litters in just seven years. And there are never enough homes. Even if every home in our country adopted a cat, there would still be millions more in need of homes.
Fortunately, there is an easy, effective and very humane solution to this problem. Spaying and neutering pets prevents unwanted litters, which means fewer cats on the streets and fewer cats entering shelters or facing possible euthanasia in an overcrowded shelter.
The SPCA Veterinary Care Center makes it affordable and easy to have cats, and dogs, spayed or neutered, as well as offering complete veterinary care. The Center is open Tuesday - Friday from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm for walk-ins, and Saturdays 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. Spay/neuter surgeries are scheduled Tuesday - Friday. Prices are very affordable and voucher programs are available for those who qualify.
The SPCA also partners with the City of Aiken to address the problem of feral or community cats through a simple and effective TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) program. Through this program, free-roaming felines are humanely trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, medically treated if necessary, and returned to the outdoor locations where they were found to live out their nine lives.
TNR is endorsed by both the American Humane Society and the ASPCA, and has been described as "the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling free-roaming cat populations."
Now let's get back to counting those 180 homeless cats already in our shelter. They need homes! We're running a couple of adoption specials right now to help make it even more affordable for you to open your heart and your home to a new feline friend.
Adult cats (6 months old or older) are available for $0. That's right, absolutely nothing. And since kittens are always better in pairs, they're adopt-one-get-one-free. That's just $75 for two adorable, lovable, super fun kittens!
Both of these specials include spay/neuter surgery (to be scheduled for kittens not yet old enough), up-to-date vaccinations, testing and a microchip. As with any adoption in our shelter, an approved adoption application is required.
It's important to remember that while free and discounted pet adoption specials do help with the immediate financial burden, pet adoption is a lifetime commitment and should be entered into with careful consideration of your lifestyle and future plans. Plus, there are plenty of other expenses to consider such as food, daily living supplies like dishes, litter boxes and litter, a bed, toys, and of course veterinary care.
But while we're counting, keep in mind that all of these expenses are worth the cost when you count the ways that rescued pets show their affection for you. Their love is absolutely, positively unconditional and sure to be one more blessing that you can count in your life.
See all of our pets online at LetLoveLove.org or in person at 199 Willow Run Road, in Aiken. Learn more about the Veterinary Care Center including spay/neuter and TNR online at spcavetcare.org, call them at 803-648-6863, ext. 1 or drop in, it's located right next to the shelter.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her family which includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA.