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Citrus Heights Teams Up with Non-Profits to Offer Free Cat Sterilizations

Residents can trap cats and bring them in for free sterilization, using a humane trap available for rent from the City.
Residents can trap cats and bring them in for free sterilization, using a humane trap available for rent from the City.

Citrus Heights residents can now neuter or spay feral cats for free, thanks to a grant from PetSmart Charities that seeks to address cat overpopulation and nuisance problems throughout the city.

“This grant and the pilot program affords residents who have cats, or are taking care of stray or feral cats, to do so in a way that saves lives and reduces nuisance issues associated with high concentrations of unaltered cats,” said Michelle Parker, program assistant for Citrus Heights Animal Services.

The grant includes $105,950 to cover surgery and rabies vaccination costs for up to 2,200 cats over a two‐year period. Feral cats will have the tip of their ear removed while under anesthesia to visually indicate that they have been sterilized.

The program has been met with success, according to Parker, who said about 200 cats were spayed or neutered in the first four months of the program.

Margaret Cleek, secretary of the Residents Empowerment Association of Citrus Heights, said about 10 cats have been spayed or neutered in her area of the city, and she appreciates the “Trap-Neuter-Release” approach to nuisance cats – rather than the euthanasia route.

Cleek said euthanizing feral cats can lead to a vacuum in the cat population of an area, which attracts more feral cats that aren’t spayed or neutered – and actually creates more of a problem. She believes the current program is the best way to humanely manage and stabilize outdoor cat populations.

Animal Services is also seeking to educate about the problem of cat overpopulation, hoping to nip the problem early on.

“It is critical to spay and neuter all outdoor cats as soon as possible,” said Parker, who mentioned that most people are unaware that female cats can become pregnant at just four months old, and can have as many as three litters of kittens per year.

Animal Services also emphasizes that the “Trap-Neuter-Release” program is the best option for the City’s budget, as it’s cheaper to spay or neuter one cat, than to try and euthanize or catch a dozen kittens that can come each year from an unaltered cat.

To take part in the program, a resident must apply for a sterilization voucher online from the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition or River City Cat Rescue, bring the cat in to a local veterinary hospital for surgery and vaccination, and then return the cat to the same area it was trapped in. Traps can be rented from the City for free, with a $50 refundable deposit, thanks to a donation of cages from Unleashed by Petco.

For more information, residents are encouraged to contact Citrus Heights Animal Services at (916) 725‐7387, or by email at

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