The lunar calendar might say that this is the year of the dog, but at RSPCA ACT it has been the year of the cat. Some of you may be aware that we had made a deliberate investment into prevention programs a few years ago. Specifically for cats, we started a three-year, free cat desexing program that we named “Frisky Tom”.
The program was launched on the back of consecutive years of growth rates and the sheer number of unwanted kittens that were coming into the RSPCA ACT Shelter.
With some help from a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, we aimed to desex 1,500 cats for free for lower-income cat owners from the greater Canberra area starting in 2015/16. We did this with the help of participating local vets, who we paid a discounted fee. With their help, we were able to desex more felines than we’d ever be able to do alone.
In the first year, we saw an 8 percent increase in incoming kittens after desexing 380 cats that financial year. This increase was slightly lower than the rate of the previous two years. Was the program working? It was way too early to tell.
In 2016/17 we saw a 9.5 percent decrease in incoming kittens and a 5 percent decrease in incoming cats after we desexed another 496 cats. This brought us back to the 2013/14 numbers and was the first decrease that we had seen for felines in five years!
We are now in the last month of this three-year program, and after desexing another 366 cats, I can tell you that in 2017/18 we have so far seen a 25.1 percent drop in incoming kittens and a 21.6 percent drop for incoming cats based on this same time last year.
It’s been incredible to see such a sudden and significant decrease. And with two years of reductions, we now feel confident to say that our Frisky Tom program has been successful.
As such, we have reviewed the prevention needs, and are now announcing our next cat desexing program – without the help of a grant and other vets this time.
‘Fix Your Feline’ will be a slightly different version of our ‘Frisky Tom’ campaign and will run during July-October. During that time RSPCA ACT will put aside one full day of desexing per week to help lower-income households desex their feline friends.
Felines from 10 weeks of age will be eligible to be desexed at RSPCA ACT for heavily discounted prices. Owners will need a valid Centrelink or DVA Gold card and reside in the ACT or bordering NSW area. It will cost $120, and payment plans are available in advance through Centrepay.
For those interested, we will also offer discounted vaccinations and microchipping for $30 each or a combo pack of $50.
More information will be coming soon! Keep an eye on the webpage www.rspca-act.org.au/fix-your-feline for updated information.
With your help, we’ll continue to keep the number of unwanted felines at a minimum.
- Tammy Ven Dange is the CEO of RSPCA ACT.