The Santa Maria Valley Humane Society will provide free spaying or neutering and a rabies vaccination for up to 100 cats on Sunday, Sept. 16, at its Gary and Lyn Hock Spay & Neuter Clinic, 1687 W. Stowell Road, Santa Maria.

The promotion, called Beat the Heat, is available to any cat in Santa Barbara County. Appointments for spay/neuter surgery are required and can be made by calling Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, 805-349-3435.

Cats will be admitted on the day of surgery, 7:30-8:30 a.m., and will go home from 4-6 p.m. the same day as surgery.

Other vaccinations and preventative medications, such as flea control, are available at additional cost.

Students from Western University College of Veterinary Medicine in Los Angeles will be assisting the veterinarians at the Humane Society on this day

“It is important for our veterinary students to receive real life experiences as part of their education,” said Dr. Zarah Hedge,  veterinarian and assistant professor of shelter medicine.

“First-, second- and third-year vet students will be participating in Beat the Heat and they will be monitoring anesthesia and helping to recover patients. Only licensed veterinarians perform the actual surgeries,” Hedge said.

Typically, animal shelters are filled to capacity with homeless cats and kittens all summer.

“One reproducing pair of cats can generate 420,000 kittens in just six years,” said Sean Hawkins, CAWA, executive director for the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.

“Spaying or neutering cats not only prevents homeless kittens from being born, but sterilized pets actually live longer, healthier lives,” Hawkins said.

Beat the Heat is a project of the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance and is funded in part by Santa Barbara County Animal Services. Owned cats and community cats are welcome to participate in this promotion.

Owned cats must arrive in a secured, enclosed pet carrier (no boxes or pillowcases). Community cats must arrive in a standard cat trap, no exceptions.

Cat traps can be borrowed from Santa Maria Valley Humane Society at no charge prior to the Beat the Heat promotion and returned after the event.

For more information on all spay/neuter programs provided by Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, visit https://smvhs.org/spay-neuter.

— Jacques Du Preez for Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.