SAN ANTONIO – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big effect on the cat population in San Antonio.
The closure of spay neuter facilities over the past few months has led to a population explosion of outdoor cats.
“San Antonio is known to have a huge population of outdoor cats. In San Antonio, the cats breed year round,” said San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition President Sherry Derdak.
The coalition was formed about 15 years ago to help spay and neuter cats, and has grown tremendously over the years.
"We also rescue and do adoptions. We help people with their vet bills, we help with food," Derdak said.
The pandemic has thrown all that work into overdrive.
“Around mid-March a lot of the spay neuter clinics had to close due to COVID, and then by the end of March, the Animal Care Services Community Cat Program closed down and they were the high volume spay neuter clinic for outside cats. They had a free service,” Derdak said.
She said Animal Care Services was spaying and neutering about 120 cats per week through the Trap Neuter Release program.
“We started looking around trying to work with anyone who was still open, doing cats, including private vets, and we were able to work with some but we had to pay full price,” Derdak said.
The procedures can cost up to $100 per cat.
In the month of April, Derdak’s spay neuter bill was $29,000. Typically, it’s around $10,000.
Still, she said paying that much money is a necessary investment.
"More kittens were born and will be breeding and having their own kittens by the fall. So we're going to be digging out of this for quite a while," she said.
The feral cat coalition is run strictly by volunteers. They request grants when available but operate primarily on donations.
If you’re interested in volunteering or donating, head to their website.