It’s Kitten Season – And It’s Time to Spay/Neuter!

By: City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

It’s springtime, and love is in the air – which means of course, it’s going to be kitten season again, very soon! As adorable, loveable, cuddly and sweet as cute little kittens can be, allowing our domesticated and community cats to roam about town without having done the responsible thing of having them spayed or neutered just means we’ll have LOTS more cats in the months and years to come. We’re calling on all Atascadero residents to help ensure that all cats, both our own household pets and free-roaming community cats, are spayed or neutered. To learn more about having your own household pet spayed or neutered, please call 805-464-5034 or visit the Woods Humane Society Spay/Neuter program link at

What is a community cat? These are the kitties that live outdoors and are unowned by anyone. Some are friendly, some are feral. In times past, people assumed that all stray cats should be treated the same as stray dogs and have turned them in to Animal Control.  However, that practice generally isn’t in the best interest of the cat that actually might belong to the neighbor down the street. It also doesn’t address the many issues that surround unowned community cats, including the fact that they’re usually difficult to adopt, often being very fearful or feral. Additionally, once a community cat is trapped and removed, it’s been proven that another cat will move in to fill that gap, which results in a perpetual cycle of trapping and euthanasia of thousands of cats without any notable improvements being made to the community. Prominent animal welfare organizations now strongly advocate for a more responsible approach.

It’s important to know that for these reasons and many more, SLO County Animal Services will now only receive, shelter and care for stray cats and kittens that are actually injured, ill, or abandoned. All healthy, free-roaming cats will be left in place. Residents who find or know of community cats are encouraged to work with local animal rescue groups to ensure these cats are altered through Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs. Animal Services works closely with such groups and with organizations like Woods Humane Society to promote the availability of spay and neuter services for community cats.

This year, SLO County Animal Services has directed $25,000 towards the spay and neuter of community cats. They have partnered with Woods Humane Society to provide the surgeries, free of charge to the public. Residents can schedule spay/neuter surgeries for stray and unowned cats with Woods in Atascadero and the cost of the procedure will be covered by Animal Services. This program is only available through May and only while funding lasts.

Additionally, the Woods Humane Society Community Cat Spay/Neuter subsidy program, called Project MEOW, is allowing Woods to provide an ultra-low-cost option for feral and community cat sterilization. Cats can be altered under this program for just $25, for as long as funding is available, on a first come/first served basis. You can find out more about Community Cat Spay/Neuter programs and Project MEOW at

As always, if you have any questions regarding this or any other topic concerning the City, please feel free to contact me at

City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

Rachelle Rickard is a native of California and a nearly 30 year resident of Atascadero. She graduated with a business degree from California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University in San Luis Obispo. In February 1997, She took a job as the Accountant with the City of Atascadero and was promoted to the position of Director of Administrative Services. At the time of her appointment to the position of Administrative Services Director for the City of Atascadero, she was the youngest person ever appointed to that role; she was also the first female Department Head ever appointed within the City. Rachelle Rickard was appointed to the position of City Manager of the City of Atascadero in June, 2013.