Project Purr, along with in Wastonville and the Animal Hospital of Soquel in Santa Cruz, are teaming up to offer free spay and neuter services for feral cats and kittens, which are domesticated cats who've returned to the wild
The service, available now through September, is offered to all Santa Cruz County residents regardless of income, and includes anesthesia, vaccinations, a parasite control package—including treatment for fleas, ear mites and de-worming—and a mandatory, identifying ear-tip procedure.
Project Purr, a volunteer-run nonprofit organization aimed at rescuing feral cats, has been in operation for 22 years, and works with participating veterinary clinics to create feral-cat management plans that work to counteract the rapid breeding of feral cats in neighborhoods.
“Feral cats are responsible for over 80 percent of kittens born each season, and mother cats suffer from the endless exhaustion of having kittens,” Lynne Achterberg, project coordinator for Project Purr, wrote in a prepared statement. “Sadly, over half of kittens born outside don't survive. Fixing the cats humanely reduces the number of mouths to feed and reduces the fighting, yowling and spraying of mating cats.”
In total, Project Purr has successfully provided around 1,000 cats with the service, which is something Achterberg attributes to the organization's humane and respectful practices
“Many other organizations offer low-cost spay and neuter services for domestic, or social, cats and kittens, but we strive to improve the lives of all cats, to teach people about these magical beasts, and thus to elevate cats’ status,” Achterberg said. “We educate, encourage, and engage everyone to reflect the humane ethic that all life is precious—young or old, stray or owned.”
In total, the free service adds up to around $300 in savings, and those wishing to take their cat to one of the two animal hospitals must do so in humane live traps, which are used to catch the cats and keep them safe prior to their surgery. Project Purr offers humane feral traps in exchange for a security deposit, which is refunded once the trap is returned undamaged.
“Thirty years of documented proof show that 'trap and kill' policies have no lasting effect on reducing feral cat populations,” Achterberg said. “Practicing 'trap-neuter-return' teaches nonviolence and tolerance for others, and is vital to keeping cats out of the shelter system and saving lives.”
In contrast with other programs offering spay and neuter services, Project Purr doesn't receive any cost-recovery money and relies on the public to keep the operation afloat.
“We hope much creative fundraising and support from our community will keep the PP program funded,” Achterberg said. “Project Purr hopes to repeat this fantastic offer in spring 2012.”
As of now, Project Purr is in need of volunteers to help with the trapping of cats and to help with a rummage sale Sept. 9-11.
For information on volunteer opportunities, visit the Project Purr website.
What: Free spay/neuter service for feral cats and kittens
Where: East Lake Animal Clinic, at 740 East Lake Ave., Watsonville, and Animal Hospital of Soquel, at 2651 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz
When: August and September
Appointment: Not necessary; must show proof of living within Santa Cruz County.