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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Maui offers FREE spay/neuter for month of Feb. Reservations required*

Reservations are required for the free spay/neutering. The Maui Humane Society number is 877-3680, ext. 23. The number for the Feline Foundation is 891-1181.

PUUNENE — Spring is the season of love, even in the feline world, and the Maui Humane Society is trying to reduce the number of unwanted and feral kitties running around Maui neighborhoods.

With $5,000 from an anonymous donor, the Humane Society is offering free spay/neutering for cats at the Puunene animal shelter this month, part of the statewide Feline Fix program and the national Prevent A Litter Month.

“It’s just a cycle for a lot of animals; springtimes are a time for romance,” said Jocelyn Bouchard, executive director of the Maui Humane Society. “It has this traditional thing. Our numbers show May and June are busy months for cats,” one of three major litter seasons her agency sees annually.

Though this program is open to any cat, the target felines are the neighborhood strays and feral ones, said Bouchard, noting that her agency data indicates that 80 percent of cat owners have their animals spayed/neutered.

“I think we got the message to those owners by and large,” she added.

The neighborhood cats are the “gateway to feral cats,” who have their kittens in nooks in buildings or in vacant lots, she said. Many of those kittens and other cats are brought to the Humane Society, and the majority of those cats, some sick or injured, are euthanized because of the sheer numbers, said Bouchard.

Last year 6,300 cats were turned in to the animal shelter, 17 a day. Some were kept at the shelter for adoption, and foster homes were found for others. Still, about 250 cats a month are euthanized, she said.

“This is a real concern for us,” she said, lamenting the number of cats euthanized as “horrific.”

“Who’s to say that these can’t be turned around?”

The neighborhood/feral cats vary in personality, she said. Some may be petted, others run from people. If cornered or stuffed in a box, some cats will scratch and bite.

For people trying to catch their neighborhood cats that won’t go willingly into a carrier, Bouchard advises calling the Humane Society, which has “humane” cat traps. People also may call the Feline Foundation of Maui, a partner with the Humane Society in handling and caring for feral cats.

Once brought in to the Humane Society, recovery time from the procedure lasts several hours to overnight, depending on the cat, Bouchard said. Feral cats are pretty hearty and will do well in the wild again once ambulatory, she said.

Females may take a little longer to recover because the procedure involves an internal operation as compared to the external procedure for males, she said.

The Humane Society offers the free spay/neuter program all this month or until the money runs out, Bouchard said. By comparison, a spay/neuter procedure and care at a private veterinary clinic could cost up to a hundred dollars.

Even when the funds are gone, ongoing programs range from discounts to free spay/neutering. One program offers the procedure based on the financial situation of the caretaker.

“We don’t ever want to let finances be standing in the way of getting their cats spayed or neutered,” she said.

Reservations are required for the free spay/neutering. The Maui Humane Society number is 877-3680, ext. 23. The number for the Feline Foundation is 891-1181.

Besides reducing the numbers of unwanted cats this month, the Humane Society also seeks homes for the felines it already has. For Valentine’s Day and the rest of this month, there will be a two-for-one deal for cats. The cost for two kittens age 6 months or younger is $65 and for older cats, $50.

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