Salem Friends of Felines expands spay, neuter clinic to confront cat overpopulation

The Salem area’s largest cat rescue is quadrupling the hours for its spay and neuter clinic.

Starting in January, Salem Friends of Felines will sterilize cats Tuesdays through Fridays at its Keizer clinic and adoption center, expanding a year-old program that had previously been open only on Wednesdays.

The nonprofit’s leadership announced the expansion at a fundraising auction Nov. 19.

The expansion comes as area cat rescuers say they’re confronting a serious cat overpopulation crisis, the result of veterinary clinics shutting down early in the Covid pandemic. That led to two years of reduced sterilization surgeries for cats, allowing far more feral and stray animals to reproduce.

In response, Friends of Felines last year hired a new executive director, Chelsey Marks, who is also a certified veterinary technician. Last November, Marks worked with the board and other staff to open a spay and neuter clinic, sterilizing cats to be adopted out at Friends of Felines and other area rescues.

With the expansion, Marks said they hope to perform 160 to 200 surgeries weekly.

The expansion required some renovations to the surgical suite that cost about $20,000. Marks said that will allow the adoption center to remain open while surgeries are taking place. Another $13,000 of new cages to allow more surgical patients to recover have also been ordered.

In addition, it’s taken “blood, sweat, tears, a lot of late nights and early mornings,” she said in an email.

“My amazing board members understand … that we’re investing in ourselves and so thankful for them for approving the spending,” she added.

Once the clinic expands, people will be able to contact the adoption center to schedule surgery for their cats.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.