Spring is upon us and the animals are getting ready to do the happy dance, if you know what I mean. Cats are no exception, and that is why Heartland Humane Society is working hard to get your cat, along with any other cat, neutered or spayed. Thanks to their year-round Trap Neuter Release (TNR) program and a grant from Maddie’s Fund, this dedicated group is able to give your pets and the street kitties the ol’ snip-a-roo at super low cost.
“Cats are seasonal breeders, so when the days start getting longer they go in the cycle and start breeding,” said Brittany Gardner, Director of Operations at Heartland Humane Society. “That’s really why there is this concentrated time where we see the most kittens in the summer time.”
Gardner explained that Heartland received their first batch of kittens at the beginning of April, and that it will be downhill for Heartland from here on out. Or at least until fall. However, because kittens cannot be adopted out or altered before they reach either two pounds or two months, they will be fostering kittens all the way to Christmas.
“We’re always full of cats. We have a lot more stray cats than we do stray dogs here in Corvallis, but we’re not as bad as some areas that are just very, very overrun,” said Gardner. “I would say Albany has more of a problem, but they don’t have a facility to take stray cats all the time.”
Though inner-Corvallis may not be the epicenter of a great cat-splosion, Gardner points to the edges of town. She said that many cats come from Monroe, the South Town border, and around Philomath—generally areas that are a bit more rural. Luckily, Heartland offers a year-round TNR program to help keep stray cat populations in check.
“People, if they have a feral cat that they see around the neighborhood or have been caring for and they want to bring them in to get them fixed, they can do that anytime,” said Gardner. “It is a $40 fee and they get spayed or neutered, they get a rabies shot, they get ear tipped, and they get a microchip implant as well. We really want to encourage people to do that.”
In most cases, it is citizens who have been feeding or otherwise caring for stray and feral cats that bring them into Heartland for their snip-eration. Heartland also rents out humane traps for those wild cats that prefer your food to your love.
But why go to all the effort of getting these feral and stray cats fixed? There certainly are plenty of folks who would rather lethally control said cats, or advocate for someone else to go about the business.
“Since the animal is already there, and they are obviously thriving and getting food and water, if you take them away, there is still a carrying capacity for that area and other cats are just going to move in,” explained Gardner.
Gardner added that although many people cite bird populations as the main argument against letting cats outside or even owning cats, there is a fair amount of research supporting TNR practices. The argument is that by preventing further reproduction and providing a food source, cat populations, their predation of wildlife, as well as nuisance behavior like spraying, fighting, and going into heat, all decline naturally.
However, stray and feral cats are only part of the problem. Plenty of people have decided not to get their own pets fixed, perhaps because they like spraying male cats and yowling females in heat, or because the vet bill was getting a little steep after vaccines.
That is why Heartland applied for and received an Innovation Grant from Maddie’s Fund last year. The grant allowed Heartland to offer two public surgery days in which people could get their cats fixed for as little as $10. In case you don’t know from experience, this is an absolutely killer deal.
“Between those two days we fixed 160 cats—we did 80 each day,” said Gardner. “Most of them were juveniles that people wanted to get fixed, some of them came in having vaccines and microchips, but their owners just couldn’t afford to get them fixed at the vet.”
Gardner added that even if you don’t care that your cat may be fostering illegitimate offspring and peeing on your neighbor’s house, there are long-term health benefits to getting your pals fixed. From decreased cancer rates to lowering the likelihood of fights resulting in injury and infection, getting your pet fixed is more of a responsibility than a preference. So drop on by Heartland Humane and schedule your furry friend a nice little surgery.
Check out Heartland Humane at 398 SW Twin Oaks Circle, Corvallis. Shelter hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; closed Monday and Thursday. Call 541-757-9000 to set up an appointment.
By Anthony Vitale