The problem of pet overpopulation and overcrowded shelters is obvious and the plight of unowned community cats has captured the hearts of animal lovers for years, but the solution can be harder to see. Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return is the only proven method for ending the needless deaths of community cats, and successfully controlling free-roaming cat populations.
Proactively Controlling Overpopulation
Rather than attempting the impossible task of saving thousands of unwanted cats each year, Operation Catnip focuses on the root of the problem – more kittens are born each year than available homes. We believe that by spaying and neutering as many stray and free-roaming cats as possible, we are proactively controlling overpopulation at its source. One day, when the supply meets the demand, there will be a home waiting for every kitten in our community.
Volunteers Drive Our Success
Over the years, clinic procedures have been honed and refined to the point that 200 cats—and sometimes more—can be safely spayed and neutered at our Catnip Sunday clinic in a single day. Our volunteers, who include veterinarians, veterinary students, technicians, and cat lovers, finish each day energized by the instant gratification of knowing what an important difference they made for so many cats. More than 50,000 community cats have been sterilized and vaccinated though Operation Catnip since our founding in Gainesville in 1998.
Operation Catnip embraces the highest quality medical standards for cats at its clinics, providing each cat with hygienic and skilled procedures, pain medication, and follow-up care if needed. In recognition of this, our president, Dr. Julie Levy, was invited to participate in the drafting of the first standards of care guidelines for spay-neuter clinics. (Looney 2008)
A Local TNR Program with an International Impact
Operation Catnip is a community-centered project dedicated to elevating the status of cats in society. Fierce loyalty to our mission of helping as many cats as possible has resulted in a model program that has been duplicated in many other communities. Veterinarians and program managers from across the country visit to learn our methods to improve existing TNR programs or implement their own. Our veterinarians serve as informed and knowledgeable resources, have taught at conferences on four continents, and have traveled as far as the Galapagos Islands to provide veterinary care for needy animals.
Training Tomorrow’s Healers
As budding surgeons and anesthesiologists, veterinary students have a lot of talent to share. Our students are passionate about helping animals. Volunteering with Operation Catnip, under the watchful eye of a master surgeon coach, gives these future veterinarians a first-hand look at the cat overpopulation problem and teaches them what a critical role they play in the solution. These students graduate with a remarkable sense of altruism and become leading advocates for animal welfare across the country. In this way, Operation Catnip helps cats not just in our local community, but far beyond Florida as well.