San Diego, CA — This month the Feral Cat Coalition celebrates their 20 year anniversary. I interviewed FCC Clinic Reservations Coordinator, Laura Zapico, earlier this week to get more details on FCC’s amazing progress. When asked how many cats they have spayed or neutered in the last 20 years, Laura responded, “more than 30,000 cats.”
The truly amazing thing about this group is that for 20 years they haven’t had a stationary clinic in which to work. Until June of this year, all of their spay or neuter clinics have occurred in host veterinary clinics on one Sunday of each month, where veterinarians volunteered their facilities and their time. In fact, the entire staff consists of volunteers; some of them check animals in, others prep them for surgery, still others groom them or clean their cages, re-lining them with fresh newspaper for the transport home. All of this, amazingly, is done at no cost to the public.
Even though the vets and volunteers at the monthly clinics don’t get paid, it still costs $10 – $15 in medical supplies to spay or neuter each cat. Their monthly clinics fix an average of 120 cats in one afternoon. When FCC hosts a “super clinic” they more than double this total. “We’ve done 250 cats before in our super clinics,” says Laura. “It’s just a matter of how many vets volunteer and how big the facility is.” She explains that 14 – 16 vets are required to accomplish this amazing feat.
This past June the FCC opened its very own stationary clinic, Feral & Friends, in El Cajon. Laura tells me it costs more to fix each cat at the clinic. “It costs $25 to fix each cat at the clinic, due to the extra overhead involved. In addition to rent and utilities, a vet and clinic director are contracted to fix 40 cats per day along with about 8 volunteers,” she explains. While still maintaining their monthly clinics, the FCC is now able to add regular weekly clinics at Feral & Friends, where they fix around 200 – 250 cats per month. With this increased capacity, FCC estimates they can now fix more than 5000 cats per year!
Because FCC is run entirely by volunteers, they always welcome new volunteers into their ranks. If you would like to volunteer for FCC, there are many things you can do. You can help at one of the monthly clinics and see how it all works. You can help raise funds or write grants. You can also store and lend out traps to people in your area, or help screen phone calls and make reservations. And, of course, FCC also needs people willing to humanely trap and transport feral cats.
While FCC does have some trappers and transporters, Laura explains, “Those are generally for caretakers who are elderly or disabled or don’t have transportation.” As far as the general public, she explains that people do call in asking FCC to trap the cats, but FCC encourages them to trap for themselves if they’re able.
“This is foreign to people, they’ve never done it before, they don’t know that they can do it,”
Laura explains, “A lot of times people do call and say ‘Hey, I need you to come out here and get these cats and do something with them.’ By the end of the phone call, you’ve empowered them, [setting up a time] to borrow a trap, and [learn how to] feed the cats, trap the cats, bring them for spay or neuter, care for them afterwards, and release them. Now not only do they know how to do it, but they can help someone else in the future.”
This all-volunteer group relies solely on donations and grant money to fund their activities. “We rely on donations and fundraising, and we also apply for grants from animal organizations. We received a grant from an animal foundation specifically for the stationary clinic; that’s how we’ve funded [it] thus far. We also have private donors who donate specifically … because they want to see our stationary clinic succeed.” Laura adds, “We’re always grateful for donations, since we’re a non-profit. People can donate through our website through Paypal. Donating $25 will spay or neuter one cat at Feral & Friends, our new stationary clinic that we’re so proud of.”
When asked what FCC would like to accomplish in the next 20 years, Laura responded,
“We would like to continue to spay and neuter as many feral cats as possible, and continue to educate the public about benefits of trap-neuter-return. We we would like to continue to improve lives of cats everywhere through spay and neuter and education, and inspire the next generation of volunteers to continue our mission.”
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