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Nonprofit Offers Free Spay and Neuter Service

Project Purr, a volunteer nonprofit aimed at rescuing feral cats and kittens, is offering a free spay and neuter service to all Santa Cruz County residents.

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.

Marguerite MacDonald August 22, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I can't say enough good things about Project Purr - when I lived on the west-side of Santa Cruz, there was a beautiful long haired cat that I couldn't tame no matter how hard I tired. She was a female and I knew she would soon go into heat. I borrowed the trap from Project Purr and using tuna as bait, managed to trap her. She was spayed and released. A few years later I had a chance to adopt 3 kittens, less than 2 pounds each through a Project Purr volunteer and they live with me today. Thank you for spreading the word about this fantastic non-profit.
Animal Hospital of Soquel August 23, 2011 at 12:43 AM
We, at Animal Hospital of Soquel, are proud to be a part of the Project Purr Feral Program. This long standing community program helps to reduce the feral population within the Santa Cruz county area, as well as, provide quality initial veterinary care.
Corinne Speckert August 23, 2011 at 10:33 PM
There's such a huge problem with the over-breeding of cats in general, so this type of service is very much needed. Plus, I really like that it actually deals with the problem by taking measures to reduce feral cat populations, over just killing them. And FYI, Lynne wanted to make sure everyone's aware that it's not Project Purr that actually loans out traps. She said that a county shelter they partner with serves as the trap bank for the PP program.
Lynne Achterberg August 24, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Project Purr's World Famous Rummage Sale is Sept. 9 - 11... Volunteers, donations and shoppers WELCOME! Every purchase helps fund feral cat and kitten spay/neuter for Santa Cruz County... and spay/neuter saves lives. For more information, please visit Project Purr's website www.projectpurr.org or call 831/423-MEOW.

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