logo

TLC Home


TLC Frequently Asked Questions

This was the FAQ for our Michigan programs
which are no longer active.


1. What is the Zimmer Foundation?
2. Why should I get my cat fixed?
3. How old does my cat have to be to be sterilized?
4. Can I get my cat fixed while she is pregnant or nursing kittens?
5. Can I get my cat declawed while she is being fixed?
6. What if I can't catch my outdoor cats?
7. Do I have to make under a certain amount of money
8. How do I apply for a spay/neuter voucher?
9. If I apply, how long will it take to get my cat fixed?
10. How many spay/neuter vouchers can I receive?
11. Can I apply more than once for spay/neuter vouchers?
12. How do you select the veterinary clinic
13. What work does the spay/neuter voucher cover?
14. What happens if I lose my voucher?
15. What happens if my voucher expires before I use it?
16. If I don't live in your service area.
17. If I am not approved for vouchers.
18. Do you help pay for sick or injured cats?
19. Will you take cats for adoption?


1. What is the Zimmer Foundation?

We are a private operating foundation (501(c)3) established in 1980.  In 2000 we established our TLC/for The Love of Cats Spay/Neuter Programs to help reduce — and eventually eliminate — the shelter practice of killing homeless cats — which, in Michigan, kills over 75,000 cats and kittens annually.  We are not an open-door clinic — rather we're a safety net for cats below the spay/neuter radar: feral and stray outdoor cats and lower-income family pets.

We are truly a grass-roots organization — the cat caregivers handle getting their own cats to/from the surgery appointments performed at a network of participating, veterinary clinics.  Through their efforts, we've fixed over 12,000 total cats — and continue to do over 1,000 cats each year.  We have no paid-staff or brick-and-mortar office.  Our programs are administered by Internet, fax, mail and phone.

Fixing these at-risk cats is important because the majority of cats and kittens taken to shelters or abandoned outdoors are given up because they are not sterilized — and the caregiver can no longer cope with repeated litters of kittens or the other unsavory behaviors of unfixed cats.   The simple act of sterilization often makes the difference between a cat keeping or losing its home while at the same time stemming the annual flow of surplus kittens.
Top

2. Why should I get my cat fixed?

Fortunately, most cat caregivers today (of both indoor and outdoor cats) want to get their cats fixed.  If you're one of the few still questioning, fixing your cats will make them better long-term companions — no longer spraying, yowling or getting into cat fights — and healthier — no longer at risk of some cancers.  But most importantly, getting your cats fixed stops their reproduction — which is good for you not having to find repeated homes for kittens, for the cat who no longer has the physical stress of repeated pregnancies, and for the community who has fewer homeless cats to kill.
Top

3. How old does my cat have to be to be sterilized?

Cats can be safely sterilized as young as 8 weeks and 2 pounds — this is the standard practice at many large animal shelters that require sterilization prior to adoption.  In private veterinary practice, the age of sterilization varies but many clinics will fix cats at 12 weeks and 3 pounds.  Since cats can reproduce at 16 weeks, we recommend sterilization prior to that age.
Top

Yes.  As sad as it may sound, we believe that spaying pregnant cats is critical to stem the killing of already-born cats.  Most clinics routinely spay a pregnant cat at least up to the halfway point.  Many will spay a cat late into the pregnancy.  We recommend spaying the cat whenever possible.  If you want to enjoy kittens, rather than letting your cats reproduce, volunteer for a cat rescue to home-foster kittens that could not have been prevented.

Some vets will fix nursing mom cats but most want to wait until the kittens are weaned which can be done when they are 4-5 weeks old.  For outdoor cats we recommend bringing litters indoors at that age to separate them from the mom.  Then you can socialize them to place person-to-person in good indoor homes and the mother's milk will dry up so she can be spayed.  Nursing mom cats can be pregnant so it's important to fix them quickly after the kittens are weaned.
Top

5. Can I get my cat declawed while she is being fixed?

Not through our programs.  Declawing is an elective surgery — no cat "needs" to be declawed.  You can easily control your cat's scratching by keeping their nails trimmed with toe-nail clippers and providing them with scratching posts.  We do not endorse the practice and do not issue vouchers for cats that will be declawed.  If you must declaw your cat, it's best to schedule both procedures together to save your cat from being under anesthesia more than once.
Top

6. What if I can't catch my outdoor cats?

Most property owners caring for yard or barn cats have the ability to live trap all their cats "if" they follow a strict feeding routine and use the live-trapping guidelines in our Feral Colony Handbook.  Fixing only the friendly cats or kittens is not an option in our Feral Colony Assistance program — the feral cats will continue to reproduce and undermine your (and our) efforts.  Consistency and patience will enable you to fix your entire colony. 
Top

7. Do I have to make under a certain amount of money to apply for a voucher?

That depends on the program.

Our Lower-Income Spay/Neuter Program only issues vouchers for cats (indoor or outdoor) cared for by families with a combined annual income of under $40,000 per year who can afford the day-to-day expenses of having a cat, but don't have the front-end money to get them fixed.

Our Feral Colony Assistance Program does not set an upper income limit because it works to encourage property owners to leave the naturally-occurring cats (feral or stray) in their outdoor habitat — unlike indoor pet cats, these are not cats that the caregiver consciously brought home.  By leaving the cats outdoors, fixing them and providing daily food, water and outdoor dry shelter, the property owner helps the community by establishing a kitten free zone.  We facilitate this by paying to get the cats fixed, provided the property owner commits to their ongoing management and care in accordance with our Feral Colony Handbook.  And, because this program is set up exclusively to help property owners manage outdoor cats naturally living on their land, it excludes any cats or kittens brought to their home to live outdoors.
Top

8. How do I apply for a spay/neuter voucher?

The procedure is simple: Applications and program requirements are online — see Lower-Income Spay/Neuter Program or Feral Colony Assistance Program.  Read the Application Directions carefully to determine if you qualify and if you do, fill out the application and submit it to us with the required attachments for processing. 
Top

9. If I apply, how long will it take to get my cat(s) fixed?

That depends on many factors, but as a rule for our Lower-Income Spay/Neuter Program, from the time you submit your application to when your cat is fixed can be as little as 7-10 days.  Our Feral Colony Assistance Program application takes a bit longer. For either program, as soon as you get the voucher(s), call the veterinary clinic listed on it to set up your appointment to get into their surgery schedule.  We are sorry but we cannot issue vouchers on an emergency basis and do not pay for surgeries when the cat is at the vet clinic or fixed prior to our issuing a voucher for the work.
Top

10. How many spay/neuter vouchers can I receive?

Our Lower-Income Spay/Neuter Program has a lifetime limit of 3 cats, so the total number of vouchers available is limited to 3 or less depending on whether any of your cats have previously been fixed through any of our programs.

Our Feral Colony Assistance Program is open to larger numbers of cats provided you are committed to getting all of the cats on your property (male, female, friendly or feral, present or newcomers) fixed rapidly to ensure that no more kittens will be born on your land.
Top

11. Can I apply more than once for spay/neuter vouchers?

Yes if you provide us with a new application and meet the guidelines below:

Under our Lower-Income Spay/Neuter Program, whether or not we can help a second time depends on how many cats we've previously fixed for you and whether you complied with our program requirements.

Our Feral Colony Assistance Program is intended as an on-going program.  Notify us (by phone or email) if/when new cats join the colony (and before they have kittens) — we'll return (by mail or email) a copy of your Colony Worksheet to be updated — and after you've done so, we'll mail the necessary vouchers — all contingent of course on your continued compliance with our program requirements.
Top

12. How do you select the veterinary clinic to issue a spay/neuter voucher to?

We distribute our vouchers among our participating vet clinics, taking into account client requests, the age of the cats, and convenience.  In most instances, the clinic we select will be within 15 miles of your home.
Top

13. What work does the spay/neuter voucher cover?

Our vouchers cover the full cost to spay or neuter the cats (including any extra charges for pregnant or in-heat females and cryptorchid males) and vaccinate one time for rabies and distemper (if done at time of surgery).  There is no charge for cats done under our Lower-Income Spay/Neuter Program,

Cats done under our Feral Colony Assistance Program are also given a treatment for parasites and have their left ear-tipped to identify them as sterilized outdoor cats. ( Ear-tipping is a procedure done under anesthesia that removes the top 1/4" of the left ear making it flat instead of pointed.) There is a $100 registration fee to join this program..

The veterinary clinic may suggest other work be done while the cat is being fixed.  If you have the money to pay for the extra work and want to do it, pay the vet directly for these extra services.  Examples of extras not covered by our vouchers are antibiotics, viral testing, post-operative pain medication and other vaccinations.
Top

14. What happens if I lose my voucher?

Please make sure you notify us as soon as you realize your voucher is missing.  If you have an appointment scheduled, we can often mail a replacement so that you can still keep the appointment.
Top

15. What happens if my voucher expires before I use it?

It is extremely important that you only apply for a voucher when you are ready to use it and will call the veterinary clinic immediately on receipt of it to schedule an appointment so that you can easily get the work done within the 30 days the vouchers are valid.  We do not reissue vouchers that expire unless there is a compelling reason the original voucher was not used.

If you are actively trying to live-trap cats (per the guidelines in our Feral Colony Handbook) and your voucher is close to its expiration date, contact us for a replacement voucher.  We'll mail a replacement so you can continue trapping for one more 30-day period.  If you aren't actively trapping and/or let the voucher lapse, your participation in our program will lapse and you will not be able to reapply — so it's important to stay at it until the entire colony is done.
Top

16. If I don't live in your service area, can I use someone else's address who does?

No.  We do not process applications that are not truthful, and we do verify the content of all applications we receive.
Top

17. If I am not approved for vouchers, where else can I get my cats fixed?

As much as we would like to issue vouchers for all cats, we are limited in the numbers of cats we can fix and consequently limit our assistance to those situations most fully satisfying our program requirements.  If you have intact cats and do not receive vouchers from us, here are a few things to try:

18. Do you help pay veterinary bills for sick or injured cats?

No.  You may find help at IMOM.org.
Top

19. Will you take cats for adoption?

No.  For assistance with cat adoptions, visit Petfinder.com.
Top


TLC Home