Why you should fix your female cat

Spay Neuter Charlotte opened in 2011 with the express purpose of ending the needless euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals in the Charlotte area. We believe that providing affordable spay neuter services over the last five and a half years has had a significant impact on this issue.  Since opening we have spayed over 15,000 female cats. But according to the recent statistics there are still significant numbers of cats being euthanized annually at the local shelter.  Why?   Because there are too many unwanted litters and not enough adoption.

Think about this.  On average, a female cat goes into heat by 4-6 months of age. From that point on, if she is left unfixed, she can have a litter every 3 months from spring until autumn producing 3 – 5 kittens in each litter.  This season is commonly referred to in the rescue world as “kitten season” because of the number of cat litters born during this time.  Using a conservative estimate that means that one unfixed female cat can produce 2,097,152 kittens in 10 years.  Yes, you read that right: one unfixed female cat can lead to over 2 million cats.  No small wonder that so many cats end up being euthanized at the shelter – it just isn’t possible to keep up with the numbers being produced.  

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Spaying your cat can help reduce the pet overpopulation problem that America and Charlotte experience.

If knowing that by fixing your female cat you can prevent the needless suffering of homeless cats isn’t enough of a reason – spaying your cat also has significant health and behavioral benefits as well. Fixing your female cat reduces her risk of mammary and uterine cancers and life threatening infections called pyometras. If you’ve ever lived with a cat in heat – you know it isn’t fun. Cats in heat will yowl and roam at all hours of the night – with no regard for your sleep schedule – and sometimes will take up “marking.” Marking refers to when a cat will spray urine on objects to leave their smell behind for a potential mate. The reason they do this is because their urine contains pheromones and hormones which can alert other cats that they are in heat.  

The spay procedure is a relatively quick procedure performed in our facilityBefore the spay we shave your cat’s belly to provide a clearer view of the surgical site, and remove all hair and debris that can cause an infection.  This is called a sterile surgical prep. On average it takes one of our experienced spay neuter veterinarians 5-7 minutes to fix a female cat. At Spay Neuter Charlotte we spay cats when they are in heat because we joke if we didn’t, it would be hard to fix any cats at all! We give the cats a mix of drugs called Kitty Magic, to make them sleepy as well as anesthetize and provide long acting pain relief throughout the surgery and post operatively.  The surgery is pretty straightforward: we remove all of the cat’s reproductive organs including the two ovaries, the uterine horns and the uterine body. At the incision site we insert a pain blocker that numbs the surgical site and eliminates most of the post-operative pain immediately following surgery, up to 6 hours. To provide further comfort we also give our feline patients oral post operative pain medication to go home.

After the spay has been completed we put a small green tattoo on the cat’s belly near their surgical site. The fur will grow back making this tiny green tattoo virtually invisible to your eye

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All animals we fix at SNC receive a small, green tattoo as easy, visible proof they’ve been fixed.

Why a tattoo?  It is one of the best ways to prevent an unnecessary surgery. Without the tattoo if your cat gets lost one of the first steps an animal shelter or a responsible pet owner will do is take is to schedule a spay procedure. The green tattoo is a quick way for a veterinarian to tell that the cat is already fixed and does not need to undergo a spay procedure. We have seen a number of cats at Spay Neuter Charlotte that were scheduled for a spay procedure, only for our veterinary surgeons to find that they had a tattoo or a faint spay scar.  Unfortunately, cat spayed at an early age may not have a visible scar, which means on occasion, we have opened up a cat only to discover that the uterus and ovaries was not there.  A tattoo in these cases would have been beneficial and saved the cat from undergoing a needless procedure. 

 

abdomen-tattoos

We recommend that cats that have been fixed spend the night in our clinic to allow the anesthesia to wear off and keep them calm and stress free. By allowing them to stay overnight they get the chance to recover safely supervised by a trained medical staff member which can administer the pain medication, which comes in a syringe, with as little stress as possible. 

When pet owners pick up their female cat the morning after the surgery we will send them home with two more doses of pain medicine  They will have already received a dose the previous night and a dose prior to discharge, administered by our medical staff. By that time your kitty should be walking and acting normally. In case they aren’t, we provide you with an email address – doctor@spayneutercharlotte.org – which puts you in touch with one of our experienced doctors who can answer your questions and provide follow up care. 

It takes 7-10 days for female cats to recover fully. One of the best ways to make sure that her recovery goes smoothly is by putting an e-collar on your cat.

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Your cat won’t love her e-collar but it helps keep her heal after the spay and prevents most post-operative problems!

 

We know that she hates it. We don’t blame her. But it prevents post-op licking which is the leading causes of post-op problems. Just like in humans, when the incision site begins to heal and the skin knits back together, it can itch. The best way that cats know how to deal with this itch, is by licking. While an e-collar isn’t fun, it does make sure that your cat doesn’t have to deal with even worse problems, like an open and infected incision.

Spaying your cat is an easy way to improve the health of your pet, make her easier to live with in your home and reduce cat overpopulation problem.

If you have a friend who isn’t sure whether or not they should get their kitty fixed – share this blog with them!

-Dr. Welch, Medical Director

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Coming Soon – Spay Neuter Charlotte Lake Norman!

We are so excited that renovations are almost complete at 325 Rolling Hill Road the third site for Spay Neuter Charlotte. All of our fingers and toes are crossed that we will be ready to open by the second week in January. To begin the clinic will offer surgery appointments Tuesday through Thursday and provide basic medical care on Fridays. Our intention is eventually use this location as a regional spay neuter hub, providing transport to and from other communities who are in need of services but aren’t able to easily reach us. Opening up a clinic in Lake Norman was the natural next step in making sure that everyone Charlotte-area has access to affordable veterinary care. Having a clinic in center Charlotte (near Uptown) and one in the south in Pineville, it only made sense to expand our reach up north. There aren’t resources readily available in Lake Norman/Mooresville. We know that the large number of homeless animals in this area contribute to the number of dogs and cats euthanized in the region. Spay Neuter Charlotte’s ultimate purpose is to prevent the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals in our community. Opening up a clinic in Lake Norman will get us closer to that goal.

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SNC is expanding to 3 locations! Here is a map of where you can find us in the Charlotte-area.

The new building is two minutes from the Exit 35 off of I77 and can also be easily accessed by Rolling Hill Road. It was formerly used as a day care center but we have revamped it for our purposes. The space is fabulous; a large lobby and spacious rooms for our animal kennels and there are windows in every room including our new surgical suite!

 

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Dr. Molly Foley

Dr. Molly Foley who currently works in our NoDa clinic will open the clinic assisted by our new staff veterinarian Dr. Cat Moore who will ultimately serve as the anchor veterinarian in this location. Dr. Moore joins the SNC team from a private practice in Maiden, North Carolina and is excited to support our mission to create a region without homeless pets.

 

 

 

We will host a community open house on Sunday, February 5th from 2:00 – 4:00. We hope that you plan to attend and spread the word. We are so looking forward to being in the neighborhood and making friends in the community.

-Cary Bernstein, Founder & Executive Director

Can I Get A Ride? Why Rescue Transport Maters

At SNC, about 25% of our surgery patients are rescue animals. These are dogs and cats that, in their few years (or weeks) on earth, have been through so much in life. Ranging from 8 weeks to 15+ years old, some of these dogs or cats were born strays, some were surrendered by their owners, and many have been saved from horrible situations that we think only happen on TV. The general public knows about rescue groups and the slogan “adopt, don’t shop!” time and time again or the hashtag #adoptdontshop. But what you may not know is the important role of rescue transport.

At Spay Neuter Charlotte, we work closely with several rescue groups, one such group is Project Safe Pet,  who frequently transport dogs and cats from southern to northern states. Due to lack of (and poorly regulated) spay/neuter laws in the southern states, our shelters quickly become overpopulated with dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. So often a female dog or cat will get pregnant and owners don’t want the financial or emotional burden of a litter so the pregnant dog or cat will get surrendered to a shelter, where she then has babies. These noble rescue groups will save the moms, the babies, those with special needs, the sick, the old, the scared and the “unadoptable.” They will vet these animals, spay/neuter them and once the dogs and cats are healthy and healed, they will be taken to places like New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, and more. Many of these rescued animals have potential adopters before they even reach their northern destination. States in the northeast have stricter animal laws and thus don’t have the abundance of homeless pets and overcrowding that we unfortunately experience in North Carolina. 

Rescue groups always need help from volunteers. They need donations of dog and puppy food as well as monetary donations to go toward vet bills, crates, interactive toys, treats, fosters, transporters, and advocates. If you have any interest in donating time, goods, or helping foster a dog or cat between shelter life and their forever home, email rescue@spayneutercharlotte.org and we can help get you in contact with some amazing people who work hard to save lives every day! 

-Nora, Patient & Rescue Services Manager

Illustration credit: Ed van der Hoek

Here are some dogs we’ve fixed from one of the various rescue groups that send the animals up north once they are vetted and healthy!

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It’s 7:30 am and you’ve just walked through our clinic’s doors – what happens next?

The staff of Spay Neuter Charlotte can appreciate how nervous our clients are when they are dropping their puppies and kittens off for surgery. Our check-in process can seem a little daunting, and may even add a little more stress to the owners, at first. Almost every day, however, we hear from at least one owner how easy going and quick the process truly was. A “well-oiled machine” is a common phrase thrown around in the morning. If you are new to our organization, and would like some insight on what to expect on your pet’s surgery day, please continue reading!

We open the doors first thing in the morning at 7:25 AM, and allow five minutes for everyone to get in the building. We ask that everyone with a dog please keep them in their car. Although our check-in discussion is very brief, if there were 15-20 dogs in the lobby during the “spiel” – I’m sure you can imagine the chaos that would ensue! We ask that anyone with cats bring them inside in their carriers. We do require that all cats come into our building in carriers because it makes them less stressed, easier to handle, and safer around the dogs. Once everyone is in the lobby we then take a few minutes to go over everyone’s surgical release. We require that a surgical release be signed for every pet receiving surgery that day.

Once your paperwork is signed, you will check your pet in for surgery with one of our staff members. We will take a minute to discuss what your pet is scheduled to get done for that day and if there are any additional services you’d like to add on. We will also require your rabies paperwork at this time. If your pet is up to date on their rabies, we are required, by law, to have some sort of documentation, so please don’t forget this at home! If you are seeing us to get your dog fixed we give you a collar made out of paper for you to put around your dog’s neck. This is important because it ensures that we know exactly who your pup is!

Once you’ve finished checking in with a staff-member you are able to then get your dog out of your car and bring him or her in with their collar on. The vet techs will then come up and take your dog into the back office for their pre-surgical exam. If you have a cat, we’ll ask you to label your cat’s carrier with a sticker and kennel card. Once your cat is labeled, you’re all finished and ready to go! Overall, this process typically takes 15-20 minutes if you arrive at 7:30 AM.

We take our patient care very seriously at Spay Neuter Charlotte and we want everyone who walks through our clinics’ doors to enjoy their experience. The best thing to do is come prepared (bring rabies paperwork, don’t give your dog or cat food after midnight, and bring your cat in carrier if you have a cat), take a deep breath and be patient with us – it’s 7:30 AM for us too! 🙂

– Kelly, Pineville Clinic Manager

What does wellness mean exactly?

Have you ever visited Spay Neuter Charlotte in NoDa on a Wednesday for Wellness? What about on a Friday in Pineville? If you have, you know we keep a steady and busy flow of doggy and kitty friends coming through the lobby for appointments. Some of them are here simply to have a vaccine updated, while others are waiting to see the doctor. When you’re making the appointment, you will be asked if you need a visit with the doctor or a visit with the technician. But what does that mean? We’re here to help with that.

When you contact us here at Spay Neuter Charlotte and ask to book an appointment for vaccines, we will book you for what we call a tech appointment. This type of appointment is what the majority of you, our clients, are looking for. We know that not everyone is looking for a visit with the doctor and sometimes you just need to come in and update Chuckie’s rabies vaccine or to get Tito a nail trim. A tech appointment is simply an appointment where your animal goes to the back with one of our trained technicians for services while you wait in the lobby. If you do not have questions or concerns for your pet that need to be discussed with a vet, this is the type of appointment you want.

These appointments are usually quick affairs, as we schedule three technicians’ appointments every fifteen minutes and you pay only for the services you need. We are usually able to schedule you for a tech appointment within 3-5 days of your contacting us to schedule. During a tech appointment, your animal receives a brief physical before any services are administered. If our staff sees anything out of the ordinary, we let you know about it, and if it is something we can help address, we go over your options to care for it as well. Some folks though are looking for a more complete physical exam, or have questions that need to be answered by the doctor. For these kind of appointments, we would schedule you for an office visit.

An office visit is an appointment where you go into a room with your animal with a technician and the doctor. An office visit is $25, plus the cost of whatever services are requested in addition to the office visit. During these visits, you have some one on one time with one of our doctors and are able to ask questions while your dog or cat is examined, and go over any concerns you might have. If your animal has a skin issue, or an ear infection, these would be addressed in an office visit appointment with the doctor. Our office visit appointments book up more quickly than our tech appointments and usually run 3-4 weeks out at a time. The office visits are booked as either a fifteen or thirty minute appointment depending on the day of the week you are scheduling and the reason for your office visit.

We are not a full services veterinary hospital and unfortunately are unable to see all types of visits here as we have limited diagnostic equipment. As an example, we do not have x-ray here so if your pet has a leg injury, we would refer you to your primary vet. If you are looking to schedule an appointment for something that is beyond the scope of what we can see here, we will advise you that Spay Neuter Charlotte can’t help in this situation and will refer you to your primary. In some instances, we can see you for an office visit to start a conversation but our veterinarian may have to refer to a primary vet.

As a general rule of thumb, unless you ask for a visit with a doctor, we will schedule you for a tech appointment. If you do want to see the doctor, please ask us when you are scheduling your appointment so we can make sure you are scheduled for the right visit. For every wellness day we have one technician dedicated to helping in the rooms with the doctor, and a different set of technicians working on the tech appointments. If you come in for an office visit appointment, you might see other appointments go back with a technician that came in after you while you are waiting. Because you are waiting to see the doctor and they aren’t, our technicians will take those back as they come in, but may help start services for your office visit appointment if there is a break and there is anything they can do to help get your visit started.

We now offer wellness three days a week at NoDa, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as well as continuing to have those appointments available on Fridays at Pineville. You can make an appointment by giving us a call, or by using the online scheduler on the website. The services we offer on wellness days can be found on our website, as well as pricing. We hope to see you soon!

-Nicole, NoDa Clinic Manager

A Reflection on Four Years

For the past four years Spay Neuter Charlotte has been my home away from home. I have come into work everyday to see the people who I have laughed with, cried with and celebrated with for years. I have had the pleasure to share stories with clients about their pets, their children and more. I’ve watched animals who were originally scared to come near me, happily meow or wag their tail when they saw me. Spay Neuter Charlotte is the place where my son came into work with me only weeks after he was born to meet all the people I called my family.

I have so many emotions when I talk about Spay Neuter Charlotte but one of the things I am most proud of is being able to say I was in the trenches when SNC started. Spay Neuter Charlotte started in late 2011 and I joined less than a year later. Since 2012 I have watched the organization grow from less than ten employees to more than 25. We celebrated completing 20,000 surgeries, then 30,000 and now over 42,000 surgeries. We started providing wellness care on Wellness Wednesdays at the NoDa Clinic and then due to high demand we added even more days to help more people. I helped grow, sometimes painfully, the level of technological involvement into business area that traditionally hasn’t had any.

It is hard for to articulate all that I have been part of during my time at Spay Neuter Charlotte the last four years. As I move on to another job and leave SNC on a daily basis, I am embracing the cliche “it’s not a goodbye – it’s see you later.” If you come to a SNC fundraiser or event you will see my smiling face there alongside all the other incredible people who work at Spay Neuter Charlotte. So here’s a big hug, smile and a see y’all really soon!

-Billie, former Business Manager

Pitbulls and Birthdays

This month we celebrate our 5th birthday and the accomplishment of 42,000 surgeries.  We are very proud to have achieved this incredible milestone. Since we opened in 2011 there have been so many changes…

We have grown from a staff of five in one location to a 25 person staff spread out over two clinics and are moving forward to open a third clinic before the end of the year. In the beginning, back in 2011, we were working with one rescue group. Now more than thirty use our services on a regular basis and have become more than just clients and patients but partners in improving the lives of animals in our community.

We have pioneered a number of new and innovative systems to improve our patients’ experience with our organization. Back in 2011 we created appointments over the phone – now all it takes is three clicks on our online scheduler and you can have a date and time for your pet’s surgery or wellness appointment. Automated reminders go out to help remind folks of their upcoming appointment and to notify them that their pet’s vaccine will soon expire. There have been so many changes but one thing has remained a constant: our affection for the bully breeds.

Not to step on anyone’s toes (or paws) but if you took a poll in the clinic, pit bulls would hands down be favorite breed of our staff.  We have fixed more than 3,000 pitties since we opened and I am continually amazed at the wide variety of people who own them and how many different iterations of the breed there are – brindle, red, blue, brown, fawn.  Why do we love them so much?  In my humble opinion it’s because (in no particular order): their fur is like velvet, they want to kiss everyone (we laugh because more times than not they are licking the faces of the doctors while being given an injection or having their nails trimmed), will pretty much do anything to get you to rub their bellies, and their tails are wagging from the minute they come through the door until the moment they walk out of the clinic in the afternoon.  It can often feel like all we hear about pit bulls is the bad stuff. But as someone who interacts with multiple pit bulls five days a week for five years there is absolutely no question: not every dog is perfect but in our experience pit bulls rock!!

-Cary Bernstein,  Founder & Executive Director