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Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the Zimmer Feline Foundation?
2. Why should I get my cats fixed?
3. At what age can my cats be fixed?
4. Can my cat be fixed while she's in heat, pregnant or nursing kittens?
5. Are her kittens eligible for vouchers?
6. Are feral cats (ie, cats you cannot reliably handle) eligible?
7. What do your spay/neuter vouchers cover?
8. How do I apply for spay/neuter vouchers?
9. What will I be asked during the application interview?
10. What is your Service Area?
11. How long do I have to use my vouchers once they’re issued?
12. How many spay/neuter vouchers may I receive?
13. May I apply more than once for spay/neuter vouchers?
14. What happens if I lose my voucher?
15. May I go to a clinic not listed on your voucher?
16. Do you help pay veterinary bills for sick or injured cats?
17. If my cat was fixed or went in for acute care before I knew about your programs, can you reimburse me for the cost if I later apply?
18. If I’m not approved for vouchers, how else can I get my cats fixed on a tight budget?
19. Do you take in cats for adoption?
20. Do you work with other groups to spay and neuter cats?


1. What is the Zimmer Feline Foundation?

We are a 501(c)3 private operating foundation established in 1980.  Our focus on cat spay/neuter began in Michigan in 2000 with our TLC ?for The Love of Cats program.  After moving to New Mexico in 2009, we continued that focus.  To date (March, 2014), we've funded the sterilization of over 17,000 cats for over 6,600 families.  In 2013 we added an acute veterinary care program to our services to further help low-income families care for their pet cats.

Our mission is to prevent pet cats from losing their homes simply because their caregivers lack the money to sterilize them or treat their injuries. Our experience indicates that this significantly reduces both the pet relinquishment rates at animal control shelters and the formation of feral cat colonies,
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2. Why should I get my cats fixed?

There are many good reasons — most common are:

But in our view, the most compelling reason to get your cats fixed is that the behaviors of most unsterilized adult cats are simply not compatible with long‐term human/pet relationships.  Sooner or later the yowling, kittening and spraying will prove too much to handle — and you’ll start seriously considering abandoning them outdoors to live on their own or relinquishing them to an animal control shelter (where they'll more than likely be killed).  If instead you fix them, the incompatible behaviors will go away and you'll have loving companions to cherish for many years to come.

Note: This was the original reason veterinarians started sterilizing cats in the 1950’s (when the invention of kitty litter allowed cats to move indoors as pets) – to “fix” the behaviors that made them difficult or impossible to live with.  And it’s still the number one reason today to get your cat fixed.
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3. At what age can my cats be fixed?

Cats can be safely sterilized as young as 8 weeks and 2 pounds – this is the standard practice at many animal shelters that require sterilization prior to adoption.  In private veterinary practice, the age of sterilization may vary from 8 weeks to 6 months, depending on the individual veterinarian’s preference.  But since cats can be sexually active at 16 weeks, we strongly recommend you get them fixed no later than that to prevent an accidental litter.

If you have older cats, they too can (and should) be fixed.  If the vet deems further testing of your cat's health advisable, before the surgery, our vouchers cover that cost.
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Yes.  Most veterinarians are willing to spay cats that are pregnant or in heat, provided they're in overall good health.  If you suspect your cat is pregnant, have her spayed as soon as possible – the more pregnant she is, the more complicated the surgery (and the fewer the vets willing to perform the operation).

Under some circumstances, vets will fix a nursing mom cat when the kittens are a few weeks old – and give her back quickly so the kittens don’t miss too many feedings.  But they normally prefer waiting until the mother has weaned her kittens to spay her.

If this is the case with your cat, encourage the kittens to start eating on their own when they’re about 4 weeks old and as soon as they’re weaned, take the mom cat in to be spayed.  She can get pregnant while she’s nursing so if you don’t act quickly you may have another litter to deal with.
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5. Are her kittens eligible for vouchers?

Yes, but only if you keep and spay the mother — and only if you intend to keep the kittens as your own pets.  If you plan to give them to others, they must apply for vouchers themselves.  Our programs are for pet cats in permanent homes — and we expect applicants to be making that commitment.  We process kitten vouchers when they are 12 weeks old.
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6. Are feral cats (i.e., cats you cannot reliably handle) eligible?

No.  Our program relies on our Participants making (and keeping) pre‐arranged veterinary appointments so that the clinics we work with are not faced with last‐minute cancellations because the cat did not show the morning of the appointment.   If you need help getting feral cats fixed, call us and we may be able to refer you to an organization that specializes in their spay/neuter.  We can provide vouchers for outdoor companion cats who have dry shelter and are given daily food and water if you agree to confine them indoors for 48 hours before their scheduled appointment.
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7. What do your spay/neuter vouchers cover?

Our vouchers cover the full cost to spay or neuter your cat, including any extra charges the veterinarian feels necessary — and a rabies shot (if done at time of surgery).  This service is free to you.  If you request additional services or products, they will be your responsibility to cover.
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8. How do I apply for spay/neuter vouchers?

If you are the permanent caregiver of the cat and your household gross income is under $40,000 per year, simply call us at 505‐466‐1676 during weekday business hours to apply.  It takes only about 5 minutes and if your application can be routinely approved, you’ll have the vouchers within a few days.  If you haven’t received your voucher(s) within a week, call us to check on the application’s status.  Occasionally we need additional information. and will work that out with you when you follow‐up.
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9. What will I be asked during the application interview?

You will be asked your household gross income — it must be less than $40,000 for approval.  If it's near that (or if your home value is above $200,000), we may ask for a copy of your household's last-year's Federal tax return(s) (front page only).  You will be asked where you live so we can determine whether we have participating clinics sufficiently close to you.  You will be asked what mailing address to send your vouchers to.  And you will be asked questions to help us determine whether your cats meet our pet cat definition.

If your application is denied, it may be for one of the following reasons:

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10. What is your Service Area?

We have participating clinics located in Bernalillo (except Albuquerque which has its own program), Catron, Colfax, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, Socorro, Taos, Torrance and Valencia counties.  If you live in any of these counties you may apply.
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11. How long do I have to use my vouchers once they’re issued?

The vouchers carry an expiration date of at least 8 weeks from issuance.  But that is more for the clinic's use than yours.  Clinics may be busy and unable to schedule your appointment for several weeks — so it's important to make your appointment when you receive the vouchers.  Unused and expired vouchers are not renewable.  If you are unable to schedule an appointment with your first clinic choice, try others with driving distance.
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12. How many spay/neuter vouchers may I receive?

If your application is approved, you will receive a spay/neuter voucher for each of your cats.  Because this is a “pet” cat program, we generally limit applications to households with 6 or fewer cats.
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13. May I apply more than once for spay/neuter vouchers?

Since we require that you get all of your cats fixed at the same time, re‐application is usually unnecessary.  If you adopt a new cat — or have kittens that were too young to be fixed initially — we may be able to help.
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14. What happens if I lose my voucher?

Please notify us as soon as you realize your voucher is missing.  If you have an appointment scheduled, we can often mail a replacement to you so that you can still keep your appointment.
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15. May I go to a clinic not listed on your voucher?

No — but if there’s a specific clinic you’d like to use, refer them to the Participating Veterinary Clinics page of our website.  If they’re interested in participating they can contact us and if we can, we’ll add them to our list.
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16. Do you help pay veterinary bills for sick or injured cats?

Our Acute Veterinary Care program can pay up to $300 to treat fixable health issues such as wounds, broken bones, infections, etc.  This is a last‐resort assistance for caregivers who receive food stamps. This program is limited to one acute care incident per household.
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17. If my cat was fixed or went in for acute care before I knew about your programs, can you reimburse me for the cost if I later apply?

We’re sorry but we can only pay for work done after an application is approved and a voucher has been issued.  Payments are made directly to the clinic after receipt of both their bill and a copy of our voucher.
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18. If I’m not approved for your vouchers, how else can I get my cats fixed on a tight budget?

If you are declined our vouchers, here are a few suggestions of other ways to minimize your spay/neuter costs:

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19. Do you take in cats for adoption?

No.  We do no form of cat rescue.  For assistance with cat adoptions, visit Petfinder and search for rescues and shelters by zip code.
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20. Do you work with other groups to spay and neuter cats?

On occasion we can help other organizations provide free and local cat spay/neuter for cats — if they are working in an area that our basic voucher program doesn’t help and if they do not require a co‐pay from the caregiver.  Feline organizations can contact us for additional information.
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