PEOPLE | PETS | COMMUNITY

The Feral Cat Spay Neuter Project: Breaking Down Barriers

For more than two decades, the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project (FCSNP) has been helping cats and the people who love them – and 2018 looks to be one of their best years yet.

“A couple of years ago, we reached 100,000 cats who had been spayed and neutered,” explained Executive Director Jason Thompson. “As of today, we’re over 115,000, and we’re looking forward to 200,000, hopefully soon.”

“As of today, we’re over 115,000, and we’re looking forward to 200,000, hopefully soon.”

In 2017, the organization completed a mentoring clinic with Wenatchee Valley Humane Society (WVHS). “We’re creating communities that are an oasis for spay and neuter,” he said. “We work with local organizations to help them pool their resources. WVHS reached out to us; they had many strays coming into the shelter and had a high demand for access to high quality, low-cost spay/neuter within the low-income community. WVHS put aside funds to address both of these issues. We worked closely with them for two years and they’re now a no-kill shelter. They’ve started up their own spay/neuter clinic for the community; it’s a big accomplishment, both for them and for us.”

WVHS was FCSNP’s first mentorship with an organization that created a spay/neuter clinic. “They’re now self-sufficient,” Jason added.

When FCSNP first started doing spay and neuter, they didn’t provide services four days a week, as they do now; this was something that they gradually evolved into.

“WVHS is taking a similar approach by doing a single, mash style, clinic quarterly, with up to 100 cats a clinic, which is typically a combination of owned and feral or free-roaming cats,” he said. “We’re currently working with WeSNiP and Skagit Valley Humane Society in Mount Vernon to create another clinic – they want to create a facility where they can be open multiple days a week. We’re working with local organizations to create whatever reality their resources will allow and will benefit the community as a whole.”

FCSNP partners with communities and organizations to provide high-quality, low-cost spay/neuter services throughout the state.

“We started off just working with feral and free-roaming animals,” Jason said, “but today, we’re working to reduce homelessness and euthanasia of all cats. We attack these issues through spay/neuter, which is one of the most effective ways to do so. We have a large network of spay/neuter options, which decreases the number of animals being born and going into the shelters. It’s a chain reaction and we’re looking to target one special part of that chain.

Executive Director Jason Thompson at the Sexless Soiree

FCSNP’s impact is growing – and it’s clear to see why.

“I’m passionate about this organization; we’re doing the dirty work,” Jason said. “And we’re working with the low-income and underserved communities that need our help. It would be easy to just do spay/neuter in our clinic in Lynnwood, but we knew that we could do more, and that’s what keeps me invigorated – we always want to be challenging ourselves and doing the best that we can with spay and neuter and the community as a whole.”

From this desire to do more, the organization’s transportation and mentorship programs were born. “We’re helping the people and animals that are getting missed by the system,” Jason said. “We recently helped a mom in Sultan who has five children. She saw a flyer about FCSNP at her children’s school. We helped spay her cat; if she hadn’t seen that sign, she doesn’t know how many litters of kittens her cat would’ve had. We helped her, we helped that animal, we helped the shelters that would’ve had to take in those cats.”

The organization, whose breadth has increased, is careful to not overextend itself. “We’re cognizant that it’ll take us a little longer to accomplish our goals, because we aren’t a big organization,” Jason said. “Our number one focus is spay and neuter. We balance this with evolving outreach, special events, and administrative duties.”

“We’re on pace for a record year.” — Jason Thompson, Executive Director, Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project

For 2018, the numbers have been off the charts. “We’ve done more spay/neuter this year than we have since 2012,” Jason said. “We’re not doing anything particularly different, but the growth of our transportation program and outreach programs are helping us reach into underserved communities and provide access to our services. We’re on pace for a record year.”

Dr. Merriss Waters and Eudora

FCSNP’s clinic manager oversees all volunteers and staff and FCSNP’s board now has four veterinarians. “Dr. Merriss Waters, our medical director, oversees our medical program and policies and procedures,” Jason said. “Dr. Jennifer Buchanan is our lead veterinarian – she’s amazing – and she can spay/neuter 50 cats a day all by herself. That makes a big difference; high quality, high volume spay/neuter is a specialty that is a growing niche for veterinarians.”

Clinic Manager Emily Scofield works as the director of operations, while Merriss runs the mentoring program. Donation and Outreach Manager Jenna Harburg connects with the community and with supporters.

Dr. Jennifer Buchanan

FCSNP has two dedicated clinic technicians, Rita Lafuze, who has been with the organization for over 12 years, and Eudora Roach-Hawkes, who became an employee with FCSNP in 2016 after volunteering for four years.

Rita Lafuze

FCSNP’s Clinic Administrative Assistant Lindsay Carvalho works directly with the public during check-in, check-out and through-out the day via phone and email.  Charlotte Brathwaite is FCSNP’s Transportation Program Assistant and works with the people animals that we are serving through our transportation program including driving the van to and from all of transportation pickup locations.

Emily Scofield

There are many ways to support FCSNP:

  • Volunteer and spread the word
  • Help people get involved
  • Follow their e-newsletter
  • Participate in outreach events
  • Participate with local community to get the word out
  • Sell catnip toys – a great way for under-18 supporters to volunteer!

“FCSNP is more than just spay and neuter…we’re also mentoring, we have a transportation program, we’re helping people who want to do right by their community cat and also helping shelters help adopters by making sure that all the adopted animals go home spayed or neutered.

“The Feral Cat Spay Neuter Project is breaking down barriers. We work with other organizations, including Pawsitive Alliance (PA) and the Community Cat Coalition (CCC), and get grant programs set up. The CCC is working with the trapping community through their voucher program to cover the costs of spay and neuter to ease the financial burden on these hard working volunteer. The CCC also supports our low-income clients who cannot afford the cost of vaccines through another subsidy grant program they have setup with us. PA has focused on spay/neuter for low-income communities where cost is a barrier to access or services. Both of those organizations are vital to helping everyone get the services they need.”

FCSNP is accessible, affordable, and compassionate.

“We’re always looking ahead,” Jason said. “We’re going to keep growing over the next five to ten years, but never lose sight of our focus on spay and neuter. It’s slow and steady growth, but growth that needs to happen so we can keep making differences in low income and underserved communities that need access to our services.”

He added: “There’s no reason to ever not do what’s best for the animals.”