Just in case you haven’t noticed -- over the past few months we’ve been using a slightly different name for our foundation – Zimmer Feline Foundation. It’s a subtle change but one that more depicts who we are and what we do. And – it also is the last step in transitioning from a Michigan corporation (where we worked with cats from 2000-2009 to a New Mexico corporation where we’ve been working with cats since 2010.
We no longer use Cat Spay of Santa Fe for our spay-neuter program either. When we first moved to New Mexico we “assumed” we would limit our work to Santa Fe County – but soon understood the need for free-and-local cat spay/neuter for low-income pets here is great – and extends far beyond the boundaries of Santa Fe County. So – with the help of 27 private and non-profit veterinary clinics – we now locally service north and central New Mexico including most of Bernalillo, Catron, Colfax, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Socorro, Taos, Torrance and Valencia counties – and will add more counties as we find vet clinics to service them.
The Zimmer Feline Foundation vouchers are totally free to qualified applicants – individuals and households with gross incomes under $40K per year can apply for free spay/neuter vouchers – and those who receive food stamps can also apply for acute veterinary vouchers in the event of a treatable medical emergency. The spay/neuter vouchers cover the complete cost to spay or neuter a cat – and a rabies vaccination given at time of surgery. The acute care vouchers pay up to $300 toward the cost to treat a medical emergency such as broken bones, infections and fight wounds.
Our spay/neuter focus is expressly on the 15% of pet cats who are not routinely fixed when they are adopted –those in low-income homes who find the cost of sterilization even at low-cost clinics a burden that is easily put off. Our experience (10 years working with both pet and feral cat caregivers in Michigan and 4 years working with pet caregivers in New Mexico), finds these unfixed pet cats are the root source of most of the feral colonies formed each year and most of the cats and kittens delivered to animal control shelters and often euthanized.
We no longer provide spay/neuter vouchers for feral cats (ie, cats you cannot handle) because we rely on our Participants making (and keeping) pre-arranged veterinary appointments so that the clinics we work with are not faced with last-minute cancellations because the feral cat didn’t show (or couldn’t be trapped) the morning of the appointment.
But – we can now selectively provide financial assistance to cat groups who work in situations our vouchers wouldn’t normally cover – outside our service area or special situations or events – provided the cat caregivers are not charged any co-pay and the project is well-defined and furthers our mission.
Many adoption and TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs are active in New Mexico to deal with the problem caused by leaving this 15% of pet cats intact – and we support and applaud their efforts. But – we’ve come to the conclusion that the cat population cannot stabilize unless and until that 15% of unfixed pet cats is significantly reduced – and in our opinion that can happen only when cat sterilization services are free and local for all cats – that is our program focus. To date we’ve helped 2,800 New Mexico caregivers sterilize – and keep – 5,200 cats.
If you know anyone in our service area that could use our help, please ask them to call – applications are taken over the phone and vouchers are mailed within a day or two of approval. Keeping a cat in its original homes is well worth it!