SPCA: Gov’t paying twice as much to spay, neuter stray cats

Agriculture Ministry says cutting cost harms welfare of felines.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel (SPCA) has charged that the government is paying twice as much as necessary to spay or neuter stray cats, which means it can only perform the operation on half as many of them.
Last year, the Agriculture Ministry authorized NIS 200 per operation and a budget of NIS 4.5 million. Since then, 7,000 cats have been spayed or neutered, according to the ministry.
However, the SPCA said its own procedure costs NIS 100 per operation. The organization also claimed that the Treasury had only allocated NIS 3.25m. for the ministry’s project.
According to SPCA estimates, there are about two million stray cats in Israel. Even a stray cat whose life span could be just three to four years starts having litters of four to five kittens at age six months. There can be as many as three litters a year, so the population is rapidly growing. If nothing is done, cats may outnumber humans in Israel in a few years, the SPCA warned.
A well-cared-for house cat could live 15 to 20 years. Stray cats, however, are highly susceptible to cold and heat during winter and summer, as well as to diseases, and have a life span of only a few years, SPCA veterinarian Dr. Elad Shapira told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
He outlined some of the reasons it was important to neuter stray cats.
“Exposure to infectious diseases is very high among stray cats – diseases like herpes or AIDS for cats,” he said.
“Stray cats can also carry rabies, which is lethal to humans. Rabies is also coming increasingly closer to the Center of the country rather than isolated cases in the North or South,” he told the Post.
“Cats that die are colonies for harmful bacterias, as well as a threat to groundwater [as they decay], so the neutering campaign is beneficial to everyone,” Shapira added.
Explaining why its operations were twice as expensive, a spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry said: “The prices were set by professionals in the ministry in relation to the accepted price and with the desire to ensure the quality of the operation. As the price drops, there is more of a chance of affecting the welfare of the cat because of a lack of investment – in anesthetics, surgery thread, etc.
“We, as the ministry in charge of animal welfare, do not want to see a situation where animals are returned to the street after shoddy operations with their wounds open and bleeding. The sum which was set – NIS 200 – per cat includes capturing it, the operation, recovery and returning it to its territory,” the ministry said.
“A few of the local authorities have managed to reduce the cost per cat by relying on volunteers and non-governmental organizations,” it continued. “This enables them to spay or neuter more cats with the same budget allocated by the ministry. Hadera, for instance, has reduced the cost by using volunteers.”
The ministry praised NGOs “for their volunteer efforts on behalf of animals and the public.”
Shapira, however, rejected the claim that SPCA performed its operations with inferior supplies.
“People who bring their cats to us get the same care that they would inprivate clinics,” declared Shapira, who also works in a private clinic.
“Our supplies are brand new and top of the line, and we are veryexperienced. Whereas a private clinic might do the operation twice aday, we sometimes do it as much as five to six times a day. It’s agood-quality surgery,” he said.
SPCA doctors are not volunteers, either, but are paid by theorganization. SPCA spokeswoman Ruth Rubinstein said they did not makemoney on the operations, but also did not lose money; the NIS 100 peroperation included the doctor’s fee for his or her time as well.
Moreover, Rubinstein said the SPCA was not funded by the government,but by donations, and still managed to do the operation withhigh-quality supplies at half the cost of the government.