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Clinics team up on cat surge

Free spay, neuter day planned in February

Many of Kootenai County’s veterinary clinics will spay and neuter feral cats for free on one February morning in a joint effort to combat a growing overpopulation problem.

From 8 to 10 a.m. on Feb. 22, nine clinics will spay and neuter wild cats that citizens trap and bring in. The service also requires that citizens care for the cat for up to 36 hours after the surgery.

“This is our way to say we recognize the problem and to do a little bit to contribute to a solution,” said Dr. Amoreena Sijan, a veterinarian with Kootenai Animal Hospital in Post Falls who organized the spay and neuter day in conjunction with Spay Day USA 2009. “We’re getting the veterinarians and our staff to volunteer their time. We’re also getting community volunteers to help as well.”

Options for Kootenai County residents who want to drop off stray or unwanted cats have been limited since the Coeur d’Alene Animal Shelter closed in February 2007. Hundreds of strays are abandoned monthly at veterinary clinics, rescue groups and at animal shelters, Sijan said in a news release.

The Kootenai Humane Society has a list of 222 people waiting for space to open up at that shelter for their unwanted or stray cats, said Phil Morgan, the executive director.

“We’re probably looking at over 300 cats waiting to come in,” said Morgan, who applauded the veterinarians’ actions. The feral cat overpopulation problem is a community issue that will only be resolved through cooperative efforts like this, he said. “People are going to go, ‘It’s one day, big deal.’ It’s a huge deal to me. The local veterinarians have stepped up.”

The following Kootenai County veterinary clinics will accept feral cats for spaying and neutering on Feb. 22: Alpine Animal Hospital; Hayden Pet Medical Center; Kootenai Animal Hospital; Lakewood Animal Hospital; Mountain View Veterinary Clinic; Northwoods Veterinary Hospital; Prairie Animal Hospital; Rathdrum Animal Clinic; and River City Animal Hospital.

The clinics will accept only “non-owned” animals for the free service. The cats also will be vaccinated for rabies and will have a small piece of their left ear clipped off, which Sijan said is a “universal indication for feral cats that they’ve been altered.”

The vet clinics ask that citizens pick the animals up in the afternoon and continue to care for them for up to 36 hours after the surgery before releasing them in the same place they were found.

“You can’t just do surgery on them then throw them out in the snow,” Sijan said.



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