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.
Thanks to a 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 to 7 and April 11 to 14.
The campus is located at 1687 West Stowell Road.
Spay and neuter surgeries are crucial to keeping the feline population under control, Santa Barbara Humane noted in a news release. 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, Santa Barbara Humane said. The nonprofit explained that 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, Santa Barbara Humane said.
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. “Spaying prevents a lot of yowling!”
Dr. Marrie said Santa Barbara Humane hopes to spay and neuter at least 120 cats in those eight days in April.
“We are so thrilled to be able to offer these free spay and neuter surgeries to the public,” she said, “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 by calling 805-964-4777, ext. 205, or at sbhumane.org/clinic.
In addition to its Santa Maria campus, Santa Barbara Humane operates a campus at 5339 Overpass Road, Goleta.