Stray cats can be seen throughout the City of Murfreesboro, whether walking the streets near the MTSU campus or meowing for food around apartment complexes.
This has been an issue for years, but it boils down to one solution – the spay and neuter of pets.
That’s what one local woman is stressing to pet owners everywhere.
“You’re paying $60 now, but it’s going to prevent (breeding) for life,” said Justyne Kostkowska, co-founder of the Murfreesboro Humane Alliance, an initiative aimed at spaying and neutering stray and feral cats.
“It’s a one-time expense,” she said. “Even if (the animal) gets out, you will not have to worry about it multiplying by 100 or, for a dog, 20.”
Between 5 and 7 million dogs and cats enter shelters across the country, and approximately 3 to 4 million of those animals will be euthanized, according to data supplied by the ASPCA.
With Christmas only weeks away, it won’t be a couple of months before shelters are flooded with unwanted “presents,” or those puppies and kittens who have outgrown their cuteness factor.
This is another reason pet-owners should be fully aware of the commitment that comes with adding a new member to their family, said Amanda Oliver, executive director of Beesley Foundation and Beesley Spay/Neuter Clinic, a low-cost, affordable option in Murfreesboro.
“I would really suggest that they be really careful with the breed they choose and really research what fits in their family dynamics – whether they’re an active family or couch potatoes,” Oliver said of new pets. “Also realize that it is a long-term commitment; it is not a throw-away item.”
Beesley Spay/Neuter Clinic averages between 2,500 and 3,000 cat and dog spay and neuters each year – all with one veterinarian and one vet assistant.
The organization is a fee-based non-profit, wherein the operational costs come out of fees charged for services. Donations, which are generously accepted, are designated to help pet-owners who are in financial distress. These are grants, of sorts, used to cover spay and neuter costs.
Murfreesboro Humane Alliance’s Kostkowska said all animals should be fixed and stressed the need for legislation requiring as much.
“The lack of education shows how far behind we are from requiring this,” she said. “It just takes one time, one day, and nine weeks later, you have kittens.”
Cats can have between four and six cats at least twice a year, she said. One cat can generate an exponential amount of offspring.
Spaying and neutering pets eliminates unwanted puppies and kittens, but it also calms the animals down – females are less edgy and males become nice rather than aggressive.
Kostkowska’s group held a fundraiser at Moxie! Art Supply in downtown Murfreesboro earlier this week to raise money to spay and neuter stray and feral cats.
“We get funds so that when we come across a stray, we can get it fixed,” she said, adding that through a partnership with Dr. Carmen Stallman of South Church St. Animal Hospital. “Then we tip the ear so we can tell which has been tamed.”
Those animals are then adopted out to loving homes. Kostkowska explained that many stray cats were once someone’s pet. One the other hand, feral cats have never been touched by a human or loved like a pet.
“If it is impossible to find a home for the cat, we release it where we found it,” she said.
This solution doesn’t eliminate the problem of stray cats, Kostkowska said, but it does prevent more offspring.
Just as Bob Barker ended The Price is Right for so many years, “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.”