1. What is the Zimmer Foundation?
2. Why should my cats be fixed?
3. How old should my cats be to have them fixed?
4. Can I get my cat fixed while she's in heat, pregnant or nursing kittens?
5. Can I get my cat declawed while she's being fixed using one of your spay/neuter vouchers?
6. Do I have to make under a certain amount of money to apply for spay/neuter vouchers?
7. Do I have to live in Santa Fe County to apply for spay/neuter vouchers?
8. How do I apply for spay/neuter vouchers?
9. What work does the spay/neuter voucher cover?
10. If I apply for spay/neuter vouchers, how long will it be before my cats are fixed?
11. What if I can't catch my outdoor cats to get them fixed?
12. How many spay/neuter vouchers can I receive?
13. Can I apply more than once for spay/neuter vouchers?
14. Can I go to a clinic not listed on your voucher?
15. If my cat was fixed before I knew about your program can you reimburse me for the cost if I meet the program qualifications?
16. What happens if I lose my voucher?
17. What happens if my voucher expires before I use it?
18. If I'm not approved for vouchers, where else can I get my cats fixed?
19. Do you help pay veterinary bills for sick or injured cats?
20. Will you take cats for adoption?
1. What is the Zimmer Foundation?
We are a private operating foundation (501(c)3) established in 1980. From 2000-2009 we provided free cat spay/neuter vouchers to cats living in southeastern Michigan through our TLC/for The Love of Cats programs. TLC sterilized about 13,000 cats in the two groups most at risk of not getting sterilized otherwise: naturally-occurring colonies of feral and stray cats and pet cats in lower-income families.
In 2010 we moved to New Mexico where our programs have shifted to assisting low-income individuals and families to provide long‐term care for their pet cats by providing free and local spay/neuter assistance and — in the event of a fixable medical emergency — with acute veterinary care.
Our ultimate goals are
(1) to end community reliance on shelter euthanasia to manage cat populations and
(2) to minimize the formation of feral cat colonies.
We work at this by trying to keep the cats most at risk
(those in lower‐income homes) of being relinquished to shelters or
abandoned outdoors in their original homes.
There are many good reasons why your cats should be fixed — to stop the killing of homeless cats in shelters (which is estimated in the millions annually) — to be a "responsible pet owner" by ensuring your cat isn't reproducing — and to be a good caregiver by lowering your cat's risk of preventable illnesses such as uterine infections or mammary, uterine and ovarian tumors.
But, even if you don't care a whit about helping your cats for these reasons, you still should get them fixed — for your own benefit. Sterilization is safe and is the best way to ensure that you'll enjoy your cat for life. Otherwise, the cute and cuddly kitten you fell in love with will quickly mature sexually and develop behaviors that make it difficult for them to live in your home. Neutered male cats are less likely to spray — and if they do spray — the odor is less noxious. Spayed female cats no longer yowl because they no longer go into heat every two weeks from March to November — and if they have outdoor access -— they no longer get pregnant. With their hormones in check, sterilized cats are calmer, friendlier and better long-term companions than their unsterilized counterparts. Top
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 most will fix cats by 12 weeks and 3 pounds.
Since cats can reproduce at 16 weeks, we recommend sterilization
well before that age.
Yes. Depending on the veterinarian, a cat can be spayed at any time provided she is in overall good health. If you suspect your cat is pregnant, make sure to spay her as quickly as possible — the more pregnant she is, the more complicated the surgery. Some vets will fix nursing mom cats after the kittens are a few weeks old and give them back quickly so they don't miss too many feedings, but most vets require that the mother be done nursing and that her milk has dried up — a process that takes a few days after the kittens are weaned.
Check with the vet before scheduling the surgery.
For outdoor cats we recommend bringing litters of kittens indoors
to socialize for adoption at 4-5 weeks of age —
when they're able to eat on their own —
and to separate them from the mom (if she's feral).
Once the kittens are indoors, spay the mom quickly —
nursing moms are often already pregnant with their next litter.
If you plan to declaw your cat, please don't apply for a voucher.
Declawing is an elective surgery —
no cat "needs" to be declawed.
We don't endorse the practice and won't honor vouchers
for cats to be declawed —
even when the caregiver pays the additional cost for the procedure.
You can reasonably control your cat's scratching
by keeping their nails trimmed with toe-nail clippers
and providing them with scratching posts.
These programs are open only to families with gross annual income
(for all the adults in the home combined)
Although we’re based in Santa Fe, our vouchers
are currently accepted by veterinary clinics
in Bernalillo (except Albuquerque, which has their own program),
Catron, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Socorro, Taos,
Torrance and Valencia counties.
If you live in any of these counties you can apply for our spay/neuter vouchers.
The procedure is simple. Call us at 505‐466‐1676 during weekday business hours to apply. It takes only about 5 minutes and — if you clearly meet our criteria — we can often approve your application while you’re still on the phone.
In some cases, we may require additional information to verify your income — typically the first page of your federal income tax return. In these cases, we can accept verification via e‐mail, fax or US mail.
If you have more than 8 cats in your care —
we’ll also need a written application from you,
which we’ll mail once we've pre‐qualified you
as meeting our basic program requirements.
Our voucher covers the full cost of a brief pre-surgical exam,
the spay/neuter surgery itself and a rabies shot
(if done at the time of surgery).
We also pay add‐on charges if your cat
is in‐heat, pregnant, or cryptorchid.
For cats over 8 years old we also pay for a pre‐surgery blood panel
to rule out any underlying health issues that might affect the surgery.
You will not be charged for any of these services.
However, if you request additional services,
they will be at your expense.
We have no waiting list,
so once your application is approved,
we’ll mail your vouchers within 3‐5 business days.
are listed on the voucher,
so once you receive it you can call the clinic you want to use
to set up your appointment.
It’s important to schedule your appointment as soon as you receive the vouchers
to ensure you get in before the expiration date
(typically 8 weeks from date of issue).
It may take time to get an appointment with the clinic
and if the vouchers expire, we cannot reissue them.
If you are providing outdoor cats with daily food and water,
you should be able to live-trap them for sterilization.
Details on feeding routines and live trapping
are in our Feral Cat Management Handbook.
We typically top out at a maximum of 8 vouchers per household
but can work with backyard cat colonies of up to 20 cats.
We require that you get all of your cats fixed
at the same time (ie., during a 6‐8 week time period from application).
Occasionally — if you adopt a new cat later on —
or if you have kittens too young (typically under 12 weeks) to fix initially —
we can help.
Follow‐on vouchers are solely at our discretion and are based on
the total number of cats previously fixed
and whether you fully cooperated with us and the clinic
with your first vouchers (ie., you used all of them
and still have the cats we originally fixed).
If there's a particular clinic you’d like to use,
tell them about our program before you apply
and if they’re interested in becoming a participating clinic
they can contact us.
Only if they’re added to our list of
before you apply for your voucher,
will you be able to use them.
We're sorry but we can only pay for work done after an application
has been submitted to us and a voucher has been issued.
Payments are made directly to the veterinary clinic after receipt
of both their bill and a copy of our 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 your appointment.
It's 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 your appointment
so that you can get the work done before the voucher expires.
We do not reissue vouchers that expire.
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 don't receive vouchers from us, here are a few suggestions:
We recently added an
Acute Veterinary Care program
that pays participating clinics up to $300
to treat fixable health issues such as
wounds, broken bones, infections, etc.
This is last-resort assistance for caregivers
who cannot afford the cost themselves
and cannot qualify for Care Credit.