Free spay/neuter clinic for cats to be held Saturday

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

By Karen Hall


A local veterinarian hopes to make a difference in the lives of Marshall County's stray cats when she holds a free spay/neuter clinic this Saturday.

"We'll definitely be busy that day," said Dr. Tresha Grissom. "I would like to see this become a community event. It's not for pet cats, it's really meant for cats who have been dropped off, stray cats, and barn cats."

She acknowledges that one day spent spaying and neutering cats will not solve the population problem in the county, but at least, Grissom says, it will raise awareness.

"We're not solving the world's problems," she said. "We're just doing something for the community."

"We don't have an outlet for cats in this county," Grissom continued. Everyone who tries to leave a litter of kittens at the Animal Shelter learns that the Shelter doesn't take cats.

A Humane Society is being formed in the county, Grissom said, and maybe one of its goals will be a regular spay/neuter program for local cats, as well as a bigger shelter, with separate areas for dogs and cats.

"We're the only county that does nothing with cats," she said. Other counties offer low-cost spay/neuter options for pet owners, and some Humane Societies even employ a veterinarian to perform spay/neuters before animals are adopted.

The only cost for people who bring cats to the clinic on Saturday will be $9 per animal for the rabies vaccination. This is required by state law. Having been bitten by a rabid cat when she was a child, Grissom is keenly aware of the necessity for all pets to be vaccinated.

The date of the clinic was chosen because it is right before the cats' breeding season. As the days get warmer and longer, female cats start coming into heat and tom cats start traveling to find mates. Because a cat ovulates when she is bred, a pregnancy is assured for every mating.

What's worse, female cats can reach sexual maturity at 6 months of age, and may give birth to two litters per year.

The mortality rate for kittens is very high, but enough survive to keep the cat population growing. Without owners who care for them, street cats suffer disease and injury.

"It bothers me to see those sick cats around town," said Grissom. "I can tell they have upper respiratory infections and have been fighting. That's what breaks my heart!"

There is a cat less than a year old in Grissom's clinic now who perfectly illustrates what can happen to stray cats. She was picked up off the side of Delina Road with an injured leg, and the kind people who brought her in have raised enough money for her care and an amputation. Grissom said it was probably an infected bite that caused the problem with the cat's leg. The poor little thing was too anemic and underweight to operate on right away, but after a week of loving care, she has gained weight and is feeling much better. The cat's ears are frostbitten, showing she was surviving outside in the worst of the weather. Hopefully, this little three-legged cat will go to a forever home, where, without having any kittens, she can have a long and happy life.

Everyone who works on Saturday will be donating their time, and the Rotary, of which Grissom is a member, contributed money for advertising and food for the volunteers. Call (931) 359-5945 to make an appointment for Saturday -- slots are filling up fast.