The Catmobiles Are On The Prowl Providing Low-Cost, High-Quality Spaying And Neutering
There’s a lack of accessible, affordable veterinary services (MA has been ranked the 2nd least affordable state). Financially-challenged cat owners can’t afford $200-$300 for spay/neuter at private clinics. As a result, feline overpopulation surges, and sadly, so does abandonment and euthanasia.
“People who use the Catmobiles tell us they couldn’t afford to get their pets altered without our help,” explains Stacy Lebaron, President of the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society. The nonprofit’s pioneering Catmobile spay/neuter vans help lower the financial and logistical barriers to basic veterinary care faced by so many low-income people.
Launched in 2008 and 2012, the Catmobiles provide spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines and flea/tick treatments for $75-$100 per cat, or roughly one-third the cost of typical private rates. With grant support, free services are provided in special circumstances. The reduced fees make it possible for people in tough economic situations to keep their pets and afford their basic care.
Why is this important? Research shows that 80% of abandoned cats originate from homes in the lower 20% income bracket. When cats are abandoned, the risk of animal suffering and overpopulation surges. Along with overpopulation comes disease, nuisance problems, road kill, strained shelters, and in many communities, euthanasia of homeless cats. Already, there are an estimated 90,000 homeless cats in MA.
MRFRS creates communities in which proactive sterilization curbs feline overpopulation, so that fewer cats will suffer from disease, hunger, fear or loneliness. It envisions a culture in which felines aren’t euthanized merely for lack of homes.
Each Catmobile and its professional veterinary crew helps about 6,000 felines per year (up to 35 per day). The vehicles are based in northeastern and central MA and serve 80-mile radiuses around their home bases in Salisbury and North Grafton. Typical station points are municipal offices (animal control officers and health departments are key referral sources), pet stores, and humane shelters in underserved cities and towns.
“Through the Catmobile programs, we provide people with the tools they need, and we empower them to help others,” LeBaron says. A strong proponent of community education, LeBaron believes that when people receive the right knowledge and tools, they in turn help others and the segment of the population that understands and practices compassionate feline treatment naturally expands. “We have had folks from China, Maine, and New Hampshire visit the Catmobile to see our model,” she adds.
Liz Pease, Director of Operations at MRFRS’s shelter, describes the results: “MRFRS’s Catmobiles have had significant impacts on kitten numbers in the areas they service, as well as on intake numbers to area shelters. These decreases in numbers have made life easier both for MRFRS’s own adoption program and for other area shelters in terms of having to handle fewer numbers of cats.” The Catmobiles prevent surrender and abandonment, support low-income cat owners, and help municipal governments avoid costs.
MRFRS is celebrating its 20th year. From grassroot beginnings in a few towns, its reach now spans several counties; its programs are recognized as models; the budget is $1.4 million.
More About This Charity
Animal Advocacy and Services
Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society
The Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society is a nationally recognized, non-profit volunteer-driven organization committed to ensuring the health and welfare of feral and domestic cats and kittens by promoting pro-active, compassionate, no-kill programs.
- 7,000 Underserved Pet Cats Received High-Quality, Low-Cost Spay Neuter
- 2nd Catmobile Launched in New Territory to Replicate Success of 1st Catmobile
- Catmobiles Provide Spay/Neuter Surgeries, Vaccines and Flea/Tick Treatments For 1/3 the Cost of Private Rates