SB Humane Vet Staff | Credit: Courtesy

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Santa Barbara Humane is proud to announce a groundbreaking milestone in their ongoing mission to address the overpopulation of feral cats in Santa Barbara County. On July 20, 2023, the organization’s Santa Maria veterinary clinic successfully performed an astounding 77 spay and neuter surgeries in a single day, marking an extraordinary achievement in their efforts to promote responsible pet ownership and combating feline overpopulation.

A majority of the 77 spay and neuter surgeries were performed on feral and community-owned cats, as part of Santa Barbara Humane’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. The program, which was launched in 2021, is a collabltive effort in which community members humanely trap feral cats, who are then brought to Santa Barbara Humane. Once the cats arrive at the organization’s clinic, they are examined by a veterinarian, given appropriate vaccines and flea treatments, and surgically sterilized. TNR is important on several levels.

1) Feral cats frequently have very difficult lives, and may face many dangers when out on the
streets. They can be hit by cars, attacked by predators, subjected to poisoning or trauma from
community members, both unintentional and intentional, and are at an increased risk of
contracting diseases like Felike Leukemia Virus. In addition they are often covered in fleas and
ticks, which can easily be passed on to owned cats in the neighborhood.

2) Because feral cats typically don’t receive regular veterinary care, TNR gives veterinary staff the
opportunity to check them out and address any chronic or painful conditions they may have. It
also allows the veterinary team to provide crucial veterinary care including vaccines, dewormers,
and flea control.

3) Unaltered community cats can be quite the nuisance – when they are mating it is very loud and
disruptive in communities in the middle of the night. They also spray urine throughout the
neighborhood which causes an unpleasant smell and can cause behavioral issues with owned

4) Unaltered cats can produce multiple litters a year that have anywhere from 2-14 kittens per
litter. Often community members find these kittens when the moms are out looking for food and
bring them into the shelter. This causes the animal shelters to be inundated during the summer
and fall months with kittens – many too young to survive on their own. In many areas in the U. S.
including many places in California – this results in many kittens being euthanized because there
is no way to care for them.

Including the surgeries performed on July 20, Santa Barbara Humane has already spayed or neutered more than 350 feral cats thus far in 2023. This number is a marked increase from the 298 feral cats spayed by the organization in 2022. Interested parties can learn more about Santa Barbara Humane’s TNR efforts on their website


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