Cats like this gray and white one are up for adoption.
Cats like this one are up for adoption at Santa Barbara Humane. Credit: Courtesy photo

Santa Barbara Humane has announced a milestone in its ongoing mission to address the overpopulation of feral cats in Santa Barbara County.

On July 20, the organization’s Santa Maria veterinary clinic successfully performed an 77 spay and neuter surgeries in a single day, marking an extraordinary achievement in its efforts to promote responsible pet ownership and combate feline overpopulation.

A majority of the 77 spay and neuter surgeries were performed on feral and community-owned cats, as part of Santa Barbara Humane’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. The program, which began in 2021, is a collaborative effort in which community members humanely trap feral cats that are then brought to Santa Barbara Humane.

Once the cats arrive at the organization’s clinic, they are examined by a veterinarian, given appropriate vaccines and flea treatments, and surgically sterilized.

TNR is important on several levels, according to Santa Barbara Humane.

1. Feral cats frequently have difficult lives, and may face many dangers when out on the streets. They can be hit by cars; attacked by predators; subjected to poisoning or trauma from community members, both unintentional and intentional; and are at an increased risk of contracting diseases like feline leukemia virus.

Feral cats are often covered in fleas and ticks, which can easily be passed on to domesticated cats in the neighborhood.

2. Because feral cats typically don’t receive regular veterinary care, TNR gives veterinary staff the opportunity to check them out and address any chronic or painful conditions they may have. It also allows the veterinary team to provide crucial veterinary care including vaccines, de-wormers, and flea control.

3.Unaltered community cats can be quite a nuisance; when they are mating it is very loud and disruptive in communities in the middle of the night. They also spray urine throughout the neighborhood which causes an unpleasant smell and can cause behavioral issues with that are under the care of humans.

4. Unaltered cats can produce multiple litters a year that have from 2-14 kittens per litter. Often community members find these kittens when the moms are out looking for food, and bring them into the shelter. This causes the animal shelters to be inundated during the summer and fall months with kittens, many too young to survive on their own.

In many areas in the U.S. including in California, this results in kittens being euthanized because there is no way to care for them.

Including the surgeries performed on July 20, Santa Barbara Humane has already spayed or neutered more than 350 feral cats thus far in 2023. This number is a marked increase from the 298 feral cats spayed by the organization in 2022.

Learn more about Santa Barbara Humane’s TNR efforts on its website

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Santa Barbara Humane is the oldest animal welfare agency in Santa Barbara County, serving the community for over 135 years. Its two campuses in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria provide low-cost veterinary care, affordable dog training, adoption, and socially-conscious sheltering for local animals, whether they are with a family or at the shelter waiting for a home. Because

Santa Barbara Humane does not receive any federal funding, it relies on donor support to help thousands of animals and families each year in Santa Barbara County.