Ten Lives was made of up a small group of people who wanted to do something to help homeless cats. While our very first instinct, back in 2012, was to help by opening a shelter, we soon realized that the best way to help homeless cats was to keep them from becoming homeless in the first place. Altering cats—spaying females and castrating (neutering) males—became our focus. Cats who are fixed can’t multiply, and that can help them get—or keep—homes. Fixed males don't have strong-smelling urine and altered females won't be going into heat—and their caretakers don’t have to worry about finding homes for kittens two or three times a year. It’s when cats are constantly giving birth to more and more kittens that the odds are increased that they, their offspring, or other cats will be homeless.
While we weren’t able to end cat overpopulation in Broome County, we were able to help fix more than 700 cats (and two dogs). That’s a lot of cats for a group as small as Ten Lives. We got cats fixed who wouldn’t have been altered without our help. We helped cats get homes because, when fixed, they were welcome indoors. We helped keep down the homeless population by fixing feral (untamed) cats. We believe we saved lives by getting cats fixed.
There’s always going to be the argument that, if people can’t afford cats, they shouldn’t have them. While we wish that everyone who has a pet would have the money to take care of that pet, it’s a reality that there just aren’t enough homes. It’s often the people who are struggling to make ends meet who are most willing to take pity on a homeless cat. We helped a lot of people like that, which means we helped those people give a home to one cat, rather than one cat who becomes, in a few months, one cat and several kittens.
There were several times when we helped find homes for homeless cats who no one else would take in. Individual members occasionally helped cats who needed more than just a spay or neuter. Sometimes we had other groups helping us. There was a memorable young kitten who was homeless and very cute, but he had an injured leg and needed more than just a simple neuter. A special fund raiser was held to get him extra medical attention. When we were told his leg needed to be removed (not an inexpensive procedure), we were fortunate enough to find out that SNAP in Cortland could get Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to do the kitten’s surgery for free through a special grant program. That little male had his leg removed, and a young woman studying there to become a veterinarian fell in love with him and adopted him. (She later got in touch with us and said he was doing very well!)
We had so many good experiences and have so many happy memories. We are very grateful to everyone who donated to our cause and helped get over 700 cats fixed. We’re grateful to SNAP in Cortland and Binghamton and to the local veterinarians who reduced their charges to give us low-cost surgeries. We’re grateful to those veterinarians and to the local businesses who helped us raise funds by letting us collect donations or conduct fund raisers at their offices or stores. And we’re very grateful to everyone who donated to us or helped us raise funds. Thank you for helping us help so many cats!
One final note: If you, or anyone you know, needs assistance in fixing a cat, we encourage you to call the Humane Society and ask them about their program. If you have a veterinarian, you could also talk to him or her; many of them are willing to help their clients if it means a homeless cat will get a home.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us (to borrow some words from our logo) “extend cats' lives through spay/neuter!”