Special clinic helps landowners and small communities

Published 6:54 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

Humane Society of Freeborn County’s unsocialized stray cat initiative offers help to people with outside cats.

The unsocialized stray cat initiative was started three years ago. The program offers low cost spay/neuter services to people who have stray, feral or barn cats. We also offer a discounted a service to small towns and larger cities within Freeborn County who have cat issues. The service is called TNR, which stands for trap, neuter and return. The main purpose of this program is to help manage feral cat colonies, stop the births of unwanted kittens and also to stop the steady stream of unwanted cats and kittens which flood our shelter year round.

Dee Amberg

Here’s how it works. Beginning in March and ending in November (the March and November clinics are weather permitting) we have a once-monthly TNR clinic, which generally accommodates 20 adult cats. The cats are humanely trapped in live traps. (This method is preferred because it allows the cats to be given the anesthetic without having to be handled by the veterinary staff.) They are then brought to the clinic where they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated against distemper and rabies, and de-wormed and given a shot of penicillin. This helps prevent infections.

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The cats are covered up and kept warm until the next morning when they are released. We also eartip the cats which means the tip of the left ear is removed. Not only is this the universal sign of TNR, but it also makes it easier to identify which cats have been altered and which have not if we have to trap more than once on a property. The ear tipping is done when the cat is under anesthesia so the cat feels no pain. All of this is provided at a very low cost to the property owner. If we are working with a community we split the cost of the clinic, which also is done at a low cost.

Some closing facts and thoughts: last year 170 cats were spayed or neutered through this program. Of those, 52 were male and 118 were female. Female cats have on average three litters per year. So that means those 118 females would have had three litters each, equaling 354 litters that were prevented. The average size of a litter is four kittens, and 354 litters with four kittens each is 1,416 cats. These births were prevented. The cats weren’t born feral, where they often face cruelty.

Some people may not like cats, but they are a part of our landscape. Do your part to educate yourself and support programs like ours that offer a proven, humane approach to handling outside cats.


Dee Amberg is the unsocialized stray cat initiative coordinator for the Humane Society of Freeborn County.