As many as 150 cats—and sometimes more—are spayed and neutered in four hours of surgery at an Operation Catnip Spay Day Clinic. Our high-quality, high-volume approach enables us to make the most of our volunteer veterinarian’s valuable time and talent.
Our Unique TNR Clinic Model
As a veterinarian, your primary responsibility will be to spay cats. Anesthesia, preparation and recovery will be performed at other stations. You may be asked by a supervisor to evaluate a cat for a medical condition or anesthetic complication. Minor problems such as abscesses may also be treated. Operation Catnip provides a standard crash kit and isoflurane anesthesia machines for emergencies.
Operation Catnip’s spay-neuter approach presents some unique challenges. The community cats brought to the clinic are feral, and will be released the day after surgery. Therefore, there is limited opportunity to monitor or treat post-surgical complications.
It can also be a challenge to balance both skill and speed, but the two are compatible. If you don’t have a lot of experience or confidence with cat spays, there is no better place to polish your skills. Feel free to scrub with one of the veteran surgeons at the beginning of the clinic to pick up some valuable pointers.
Clinic Policies and Procedures
Cats that are not in advanced pregnancy are generally spayed through a flank incision (an easy modification of the midline approach). A 10-minute video of the flank approach is available on loan from Operation Catnip.The flank approach prevents evisceration in the event of an incision dehiscence. In order to reduce complications and surgical time, we use the smallest incision possible.
We use 2-0 absorbable suture for normal cats and 3-0 absorbable suture for kittens. We also try to spay a cat with only one pack of suture when possible in order to keep costs down. We find instrument ties save suture. We do not use skin sutures but will have surgical glue available for incisions that don’t close perfectly with a sub-cuticular suture.
Injectable Anesthesia Drug
We use an injectable drug combination of telazol, ketamine and xylazine, which means that anesthetic duration is limited. As cats have already been anesthetized for several prep stations before they arrive at the surgery table, minimizing surgical time is essential.
A Veterinary Assistant will be assigned to each trio of veterinarians. The assistant will remove the finished cat from your table, replace it with a new cat, and open your surgical pack, blade, suture, and gloves for you. This will let you devote most of your time to surgery. Our most experienced surgeons can spay 4-6 cats an hour.
On Spay Day, you will be asked to:
- Wear gloves at all times, even if not in surgery (See Bite and Scratch Policy)
- Wear gloves, cap, mask, gown or scrub top while in surgery
- Change only gloves between cats
- Discard your own sharps
- Discard defective instruments, so they are not repacked
- Complete and sign the Medical Record
Tell the Vet Assistant:
- If you want a cat to receive subcutaneous fluids (advanced pregnancy, excessive blood loss, etc.) after surgery, 150 ml is standard unless you prescribe otherwise.
- If you need special items such as carmalts or extra gauze opened for you.
- If the cat is lactating, in heat, or pregnant.
Speak to a clinic leader if the assistant does not have the information or supplies you need or to verify if a cat is already altered prior to arriving at the clinic.
Please tell us if you have ideas for improving the clinic or if you know of other veterinarians who might like to volunteer. We greatly appreciate your participation and look forward to working with you.