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For animal shelters across the nation, the arrival of spring means it is time to gear up for the annual influx of kittens known as “kitten season.” For several months, shelters usually see a marked increase in the number of cats entering their care. In an effort to stem the tide and prevent unwanted litters of kittens, starting March 1, Santa Barbara Humane will be offering free spay and neuter surgeries for cats at our Santa Maria campus. 

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, life on the streets is fraught with dangers ranging from encounters with wildlife to communicable 

illnesses to the hazards of busy roadways. 

Surgical sterilization is not only a safe and humane way to prevent unwanted litters; it also offers 

significant health benefits to cats. 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. 

Dr. Katie Marrie, Santa Barbara Humane’s Chief Veterinary Officer, says that surgical sterilization can also help address some common feline behavioral problems. 

“In male cats, surgical sterilization helps decrease aggressive behavior and can help prevent certain unwanted behaviors like spraying, fighting, and roaming in search of a mate.” And, according to Dr. Marrie, for female cats, spay surgeries can make a difference that the whole neighborhood can appreciate. “Anyone who has been around female cats that are in heat can attest to how noisy they can be. Spaying your cat can prevent a whole lot of yowling!” 

A generous donation from ResQcats has allowed Santa Barbara Humane to offer fee-waived feline spay and neuter surgeries. Beginning March 1, surgical fees will be waived for all feline spay/neuter surgeries provided at Santa Barbara Humane’s Santa Maria campus. 

“We are so excited to be able to offer free spay and neuter surgeries to our community,” said Dr. Marrie, “and we are so grateful to ResQcats for making it possible.” 

In 2022, Santa Barbara Humane provided 5,762 spay/neuter surgeries to cats, dogs, and rabbits in Santa Barbara County. The surgeries typically cost $100 for female cats and $80 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 or by calling (805) 964-4777 x 205.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Santa Barbara Humane is the oldest animal welfare agency in Santa Barbara County, serving the community for over 135 years. The organization’s two campuses in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria provide low-cost veterinary care, affordable dog training, adoption, and socially-conscious sheltering for local animals, whether they are with a loving family or at the shelter waiting for a home of their own. Because Santa Barbara Humane does not receive any federal funding, it relies on donor support to help thousands of animals and families each year in Santa Barbara County.


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