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As temperatures rise, animal shelters across the nation are gearing up for the annual influx of kittens known as “kitten season.” In an effort to stem the tide and prevent unwanted litters of kittens, Santa Barbara Humane is offering free spay and neuter surgeries for cats in Santa Maria on select days this April.
Spay and neuter surgeries are crucial to keeping the feline population under control. An unaltered female cat can give birth to as many as 180 kittens in her lifetime. Those kittens could become part of the 3.2 million cats that enter animal shelters each year. For the millions of feral cats who don’t enter a shelter, their life on the streets is fraught with dangers ranging from communicable illness to busy roadways to encounters with wildlife.
Surgical sterilization is a safe and humane way to prevent unwanted litters, and it also offers other benefits both to the cats and to the community at large. Spaying female cats helps prevent breast and uterine cancer, and neutering male cats helps prevent testicular cancer. Studies have found that spayed female cats live 39% longer than intact female cats, while neutered male cats live 62% longer than intact male cats. For male cats, surgical sterilization also helps decrease aggressive behavior and can help prevent certain unwanted behaviors like spraying, fighting, and roaming in search of a mate.
Spaying female cats can help out whole neighborhoods, too. “Anyone who has been around female cats that are in heat can attest to how noisy they can be,” said Dr. Katie Marrie, Santa Barbara Humane’s Chief Veterinary Officer. “By spaying, you will prevent a lot of yowling!”
Thanks to a generous donation from ResQcats, surgical fees will be waived for all feline spay/neuter surgeries provided at Santa Barbara Humane’s Santa Maria campus from April 4-7 and April 11-14. Dr. Marrie says they hope to spay and neuter at least 120 cats in those eight days.
“We are so thrilled to be able to offer these free spay and neuter surgeries to the public,” said Dr. Marrie, “and we are so thankful to ResQcats for allowing us to provide this opportunity.”
In 2021, Santa Barbara Humane provided 5,596 spay/neuter surgeries to cats, dogs, and rabbits in Santa Barbara County. The surgeries typically cost $95 for female cats and $75 for male cats.
All visits to Santa Barbara Humane’s veterinary clinic, including those for free spay and neuter surgeries, are by appointment only. Appointments can be booked at sbhumane.org/clinic or by calling (805) 964-4777 x 205.
Santa Barbara Humane is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was one of the first animal welfare agencies in the country 67 years before the national organization was founded. Santa Barbara Humane operates two campuses located in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, providing care for community-owned and homeless animals. Both campuses offer affordable, high-quality veterinary care, compassionate behavior training programs, and a relinquishment program for owners who can no longer care for their pets. Homeless animals receive medical care, shelter, and basic behavior training until their adoption. Because it is a local organization that is not affiliated or funded by the national Humane Society or SPCA, Santa Barbara Humane relies on local donor support to ensure every dog and cat gets the care they need.