How to sterilise stray cats?


Strays, or homeless cats, or the CWS preferred term, community cats, fare much better after being sterilised. Of course, the same goes for home pets or even semi-pet cats allowed to free-range.

EARLY BIRD BONUS!

Here’s some info that might provide further peace of mind, especially about doing it early:
“You will do so much more for the health of your pet by spaying before the first heat. It has been reported that by doing so, you will reduce the chance of mammary (breast) cancer in your pet by as much as 97% over their lifetime. The chance of other reproductive cancers (uterine, ovarian, mammary) and uterine infection is eliminated in spayed animals.”

Quoted from this article: http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/dogdiseasess/a/spaying.htm.

In addition, nuisance potential from mating shenanigans or territory disputes, and population explosion from kitten births are reduced. In Singapore, this makes for less visibility of the homeless ones and less chance of them being (wrongfully) complained against and culled. In short, sterilisation in itself benefit both the cats themselves and the human community in which they’ve made their homes, even if you aren’t going for the full TNRM works (which would, of course, be ideal).

WHAT IS STERILISATION

Before you sterilise, you should know what is sterilisation and what it means for the cats you’re going to “get done”. One very comprehensive resource is this list of Spay & Neuter for Cats articles by about cats.com.

You should also be aware that there are cats that may not suitable for sterilisation, hopefully only at the present moment. This procedure is a surgical operation after all, and there’s a certain risk involved, just like for human surgeries. A professional vet should be able to advise you if you’re in doubt.

KITTY’S READINESS FOR STERILISATION

When should a cat not be sterilised? Use your judgement and common-sense: Just like people, if the cat is injured, looks sickly or is sick, he/she is not a suitable candidate for surgery, unless you request for a full body checkup/ blood tests to ascertain the cat’s health status right off the bat. In addition, very scrawny cats should also not be operated on.

Egs: The Pyometra cat Dawn blogged about: “The vet says she is very skinny and is likely to die if operated on right now.

Brownie, a scrawny abandoned mother cat rescued and being fostered right now: “Brownie needs to be fattened up before we send her for sterilisation. Vincent says she is eating well, and a health check at Pet Clinic showed that she is in good health.” … read full post

Other exampled are our own Lizzy, Chrissy and Corrie. (Links to come)

So what to do with scrawny cats? Feed them and fatten them up before scheduling their appointments with the vet, of course! It’s usually a fast process, regular meals for a week or some can do wonders. (If a cat can’t be fattened up, it’s a sign that he/she may have other health issues. However, do also note that among cats, as among people, there are those who are naturally slim and don’t put on any significant weight no matter what you do, like Orli. On the other paw, please do note that, just as with humans, clinical obesity brings its own set of problems and therefore, like emaciation, should be avoided)

STERILISATION ARRANGEMENTS AND PREPARATIONS

If you’re sterilising strays, there are 2 ways to go about arranging the procedure:
1. Book with a vet on your own. Let them know you’re sterilising a stray and want the ear tipped. Usually vets give a discount or a lower than normal bill for stray neutering. Don’t assume though, ask for it.
2. Book an appointment through CWS aka CAT Welfare Society, also cheaper than for pets. (Cat Welfare Society’s voice mailbox at 7000-CATSNIP (7000-2287647) or email catsnip@catwelfare.org)

Regardless of which option you choose, appointments are booked in advance. Usually, at least 1 week’s advance notice is needed.

Then you’ll have to get the cat(s) and send and collect them from the surgery. Because of the need to fast the cats overnight, like human surgeries, you may need to house them temporarily. Also, to ensure you don’t miss the appointment cos you can’t find the cats, it’s better to get them and house them the night before anyway.

A very serious note of caution about withholding food on the night prior to surgery: DO NOT feed the cat the night before surgery after 10pm, latest allowable feeding time being midnight if the procedure for your cat is later in the day. Withhold all food even if the cat begs. In fact, it is fine to begin starving the cat earlier. It is no kindness to give in to the cat’s cries for food as it could have fatal consequences. We know of at least 1 incident where a feeder couldn’t bear to starve the cat: the cat died while in recovery post-surgery as he threw up the food she had continued to give him, and choked on his own vomit – the vet and personnel were not told he had continued to eat after midnight, and that the last time he ate was that very morning!

(EDIT 20070509: This post by Dawn today shows how sometimes the nitty gritty can cause problems if there’s a lack of understanding/appreciation for the actual operational and logistical details. Great learning points, not only for booking through CWS, but also for sterilisation in general.)

POST STERILISATION FOLLOW-UP

Because of the effect of the anaesthetics, it’s dangerous for the sterilised cat to be put back on the streets straightaway. So to keep the cat safe while the anaesthesia wears off and let him/her get some “MC” time to recover from the surgical wound, it’s advisable to board the cat for at least a night after surgery to help recuperation, males at least 24 hours, females at least 48 hours. This way, the surgical site can be kept clean and monitored and attention given as soon as possible in case of problems, eg burst stitches. (IF your sterilised cat is a female who was pregnant, then recovery should be set at a week.)

Boarding with the vet can be arranged, depending on the vet, but will incur boarding fees. But note this is not generally advisable as vet clinics may have viruses running rampant, and as strays are not vaccinated, boarding at the vet may expose them to a higher risk of falling sick. Also note if you’re booking through CWS, do let them know you’d need to board the cats also. They won’t arrange the boarding for you as they only handle sterilisation bookings and that’s the extent of their arrangements with the participating vets, but at least with the booking info from them, you can arrange for boarding with the vet yourself.

If you’re boarding the cat at your home, then a cage and/or a roomy carrier that will allow him/her to be able to stand would make things easier and more comfortable. But the cat won’t need lots of room, just a quiet corner to keep his/her freakout quotient down. (A cover over the cage/carrier the cat is in will help a lot too)

If you have problems getting the cats and/or transporting them, you could pay someone to do it for you.

Of course, if you ask around, you’d likely hear about both highly recommended vets and those to avoid – open your ears and eyes and then decide for yourself.

FAQs

Here’s some relevant info from the CWS FAQ page for a brief primer (click here to see the full list). Bold and highlights mine:

How much does sterilisation cost?

Depending on the vet clinic, the cost of sterilising a male cat is SGD40-SGD100 and for females, SGD50-SGD180. For a list of vet clinics, you can go to the Singapore Veterinary Association’s website at www.sva.org.sg.

If you are sterilising community cats, you can call Cat Welfare Society’s voice mailbox at 7000-CATSNIP (7000-2287647) or email catsnip@catwelfare.org to book a slot. CWS will make an appointment for you at the nearest participating vet clinic. All cats sterilised through CWS will have their ears tipped. The cost of sterilising a male cat through CWS is SGD20-SGD35 while for a female cat, it’s SGD35-SGD65.

I’d like to sterilise a community cat. How do I catch it?

You can try luring the cat into a cat carrier with food. Alternatively, you can borrow a cat trap from Cat Welfare Society by emailing us at info@catwelfare.org. The loan of the trap is free, but there is a deposit of SGD65.

How do I prepare my cat for sterilisation surgery?

Your cat must not be given any food and water from 10pm of the night before the surgery.

What does post-surgery recovery entail?

After surgery, keep the cat in a quiet place and observe its behaviour. You may release it only when it is fully alert and eating well. A male cat usually takes 24 hours to recover, while a female cat might need 48 hours.

In addition, this FAQ (in the very convenient pdf format) from CWS provides more info and is very handy as a persuasion tool.

COST AND AFFORDABILITY

The cost of cat sterilisation in Singapore is really affordable, especially when compared to other countries, and even more so in the face of the 10% discount most vets offer for homeless cat sterilisation. Putting aside $2 a day for just a month is more than enough cover the cost of sterilising a female cat at some of the cheapest clinics. Therefore, the excuse not to sterilise because of cost is just that, an excuse; unless you do not have an  income at all, in which case, you should not be keeping pets because with it comes the RESPONSIBILITY to CARE PROPERLY for them, including sterilisation.

CONCLUSION

Sterilisation in itself is not foolproof against culling and death. But it is a very important part, a VITAL component of the grand scheme of TNRM.

If you’re caring/feeding homeless/community cats, please do consider running a full TNRM programme.

You may want to consider hooking up with other cat caregivers in your estate or start a tnrm group if there isn’t one. You can contact CWS at info@catwelfare.org for info and advice. BTW, do check out the blog of CWS’ only paid worker, Ms Dawn Kua. There’s a lot of hands-on and practical experience helpful to stray cat management. Alternatively, check our collection of Dawn’s blog entries about TNRM and handling ppl here.

End-note: As a point of reference, us tec minions have never managed to use a booking done through CWS, due to cats missing our “dates” and causing last minute cancellations.

(Created: 27 Nov 06. Updated: 24 Feb 10)

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2 responses to “How to sterilise stray cats?

  1. Pingback: Area3: Pierre, honorary clan member « Tipped Ear Clan

  2. I HAVE 3 PET CAT AND WOULD LIKE TO STRERILISATION BUT COULD NOT AFFORD DUE TO THE EXPENSIVE PRICE..
    I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE SUM SUBSIDISE FOR MY 3 CATS. CURRENLY MY CAT IS PREGNANT AGAIN AND DUE TO DELIVER IN FEW DAYS TIME.PLS HELP ME….

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