Community Solutions for Community Cats Part One

October 2013 by Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM and Shaye Olmstead

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Video Length: 35 minutes

Operation Catnip's proactive "litter prevention" program performs 3,000 trap-neuter-return (TNR) surgeries each year for community cats using monthly high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter clinics capable of sterilizing more than 200 cats in a single day. This program was instrumental in reducing cat euthanasia at the local shelter from 81% to 42% over 13 years. In 2012, the program was expanded to include a reactive "shelter-neuter-return" program targeting the cats most at risk of immediate euthanasia: adult impounded strays. By neutering and returning these shelter cats to their neighborhoods, cat euthanasia plummeted to 13% in 2012, making Alachua County the safest place to be a cat in Florida.

This presentation, given by Dr. Julie Levy, Director of Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, and Shaye Olmstead, Executive Director of Operation Catnip, will demonstrate how a tiny staff, a giant volunteer pool and a relentless will to save cats can end the use of euthanasia for population management, even in the most challenging communities. This talk was part of the Face-to-Face with Feral Freedom workshop brought to you by The Target Zero Institute and Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida.

Learning Objectives:

  • Create a community profile to understand local community cat population dynamics between the field and the shelter.
  • Design a program for intermittent high-volume TNR clinics using a volunteer workforce targeting cats in the field.
  • Develop a collaboration with local shelters to return impounded community cats to their neighborhoods as an alternative to euthanasia or shelter crowding.

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About Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

Dr. Levy is Director of Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. Dr. Levy's research and clinical interests center on the health and welfare of animals in shelters, feline infectious diseases, humane alternatives for cat population control and contraceptive vaccines for cats. She is the founder of Operation Catnip, with two university-based feral cat spay/neuter programs that have sterilized more than 45,000 cats since 1994. Dr. Levy has published more than one hundred journal articles and textbook chapters. She is the recipient of the Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award, Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year and the European Society of Feline Medicine Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Feline Medicine.

About Shaye Olmstead

Shaye Olmstead is currently the Executive Director of Operation Catnip in Gainesville, Florida. Previously, she has served as the Vice President at Helping Hands Pet Rescue and an independent consultant for Best Friends Animal Society.

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