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Hear from a hero vet - spay and neuter

Hear from a hero vet - spay and neuter

Posted by Armarkat on 29th Apr 2024

Hear from a hero vet who has neutered thousands of cats in need!

We interviewed Dr. Erin Davezac of Wild Blue Cats Rescue about her experience saving cats near and far from home. She has been serving the nonprofit in the Black Forest area of Colorado Springs for four years, performing surgeries for house cats and feral cats alike.

Here is what Dr. Davezac had to say about her compassionate efforts to help cats with the mobile clinic initiative.

What are some of the services you are involved with on the mobile clinic?

Spay, neuter, enucleations, amputations, mass removals, examinations, vaccinations, microchips, blood draws

What areas does the mobile clinic reach? We have gone as far as Roswell, New Mexico, which is about 450 miles one way. We have also visited a few towns in Colorado within 100 miles of us.

How many cats have you spayed/neutered?

I do approximately 1,000 surgeries a year with Wild Blue cats and around another 3,000-4,000 with other groups in Colorado and New Mexico

How does the spay/neuter procedure work? How long does it take? Do cats feel much pain afterward?

The procedure is standard for spay—anesthesia is administered via an intramuscular injection and the cats are given oxygen or isoflurane with oxygen if needed to maintain general anesthesia. They are shaved and the skin is cleaned with surgical scrub several times. A midline incision is made and the ovaries and uterus are removed. Internal sutures are placed to stop any bleeding. The body wall and skin are closed with an absorbable suture and a tattoo is placed as proof of spay. Neuters are quicker, with the testicles being removed one at a time through a scrotal incision. The spermatic cord and blood vessels are tied off to prevent any bleeding. All cats receive an opioid and nsaid injection for pain relief.

The spay procedure takes around five to six minutes and the neuter around one minute. We find the cats to be back to their normal self within a matter of hours. They do not seem to be in pain following the procedure, however, we do give additional doses of pain relievers if needed or if the procedure was more invasive, such as an enucleation.

What is the ideal age range for spaying/neutering cats, and why is it important to spay/neuter them while they are young?

Ideally, the cats would be approximately four to five months old and have finished their vaccination series. In Colorado, it is acceptable to spay or neuter once the kitten has reached eight weeks and two pounds. Due to the nature of rescue work and the policy of not adopting out an intact [unspayed or unneutered] animal, we often perform spay and neuters as young as eight weeks. Each rescue has their own policy and age limit, but it is not uncommon for groups to perform pediatric procedures. Cats are exceptionally fertile and can go into estrus (heat) as young as four months of age, so spaying at a young age can prevent this and unintentional pregnancy.

When you’ve spoken with cat owners who are unsure about spaying or neutering cats, what are some of the concerns they have? And what do you tell them?

They worry that the pet’s personality will change, which is very unlikely. Some undesirable traits, such as male cat marking territory, should go away, but the personality doesn’t change. Owners also worry about anesthetic complications, which are very rare. I explain that although every procedure comes with a risk, they are extremely rare. I also reassure them that we will do everything possible to mitigate the risk.

Have you seen any difference in attitudes towards spaying and neutering among the different areas the mobile clinic has traveled to?

I find the towns we go to are very grateful for the help. In general, I believe TNR [trap, neuter, release] is becoming more accepted as people are educated about community cats. It often takes more than one trip to each location before I see a difference in the feral population. Depending on the size of the colonies and number of colonies, it could take years to see a decline in the number of intact cats brought to clinics. It is not uncommon to have an owner drive one to two hours to a mobile clinic because they are unable to find affordable care where they live.

Is there a specific memory of working at the mobile clinic that you’d like to share?

Each clinic has its special moments, whether that be helping an overwhelmed owner get control of the number of pets they care for or handing out free food to someone unable to afford to feed their pets. My favorite time is when we start seeing community cats that are ear tipped, so we know we are making a dent in the population!

What is your favorite thing about working for Wild Blue Cats?

I love that they take such good care of the cats and allow for specialized care when necessary. Many groups are unable to take their cats to specialists like cardiologists, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, internal medicine specialists, etc., but Wild Blue Cats finds a way to make that happen.

Is there anything else about this topic you would like to share?

We need to continue getting the word out to underserved communities that need help with spay and neuter services. This type of work is vital to the health of the animals and gives us a chance to educate owners about responsible pet ownership. It prevents unintended litters of puppies and kittens, as well as allowing for vaccination of communicable diseases such as Rabies.

The mobile clinic is one of many services offered by Wild Blue Cats Rescue. To learn more about their incredible mission and how you can support them, please visit their website and Facebook page