By shadowing local vets, nonprofits aim to control feral cat population here and abroad

In recent years, Israel has had to deal with an exploding feral cat population. Whether in Tel Aviv or the Holy Land, it is apparent that the Middle Eastern country has nearly been overrun by felines.

However, two nonprofits — one from Israel and one from Sun Valley — will be teaming up in hopes of nipping the feral cat issue in the bud.

Since last Wednesday, members of Let the Animals Live have been studying and shadowing the technicians and veterinarians at FixNation, which is located near the north end of Hollywood Burbank Airport, to learn their procedures for spaying and neutering cats.

"I want to clone this in Israel," said Riva Mayer, a behavioral cat therapist and director of overseas contact and development with Let the Animals Live. "They are the best."

It's estimated there are about 2 million community cats, as Mayer prefers to call them, roaming Israel. Instead of caring for them, many of the country's people see a stray feline as more of a nuisance than as a pet they could save.

Wanting to help control the cat population in Israel, Mayer enlisted the help of FixNation's co-founder Karn Myers, whom she met four years ago. Since then, the two have been developing a plan to open a clinic, the first of its kind in Israel, that will specialize in spaying and neutering cats, much like FixNation.

"Lots of people call us and tell us that there's so many community or feral cats here [in Israel]," Mayer said. "There are kittens that suffer and moms that are starving. Lots of tourists come to Israel and are shocked by the situation. The people want to do something and now they have the chance."

Controlling the cat population in L.A. County

In 2007 Myers, a former entertainment executive, and her husband Mark Dodge, an attorney, opened FixNation to help address the feral cat issue in Los Angeles County.

---------------------

FOR THE RECORD

Sept. 29, 2:31 p.m.: A previous version of this story misidentified Mark Dodge as a former attorney.

---------------------

After starting their Catnippers feral cat clinic in 1999, Myers said she and her husband realized that they needed to do more than treat ill strays.

Myers said that FixNation is focused primarily on spaying and neutering feral cats to help reduce the stray cat population.

"We started off [spaying and neutering] six cats and now we're up to 135,000 cats," she said.

On average, the veterinarian team at FixNation can alter between 90 and 100 cats each day. The overall procedure on male cats can be done in under a minute while spays can take between five and 10 minutes to complete.

After being spayed or neutered, each cat has a small tip of their ear cut off to signify that they have been fixed.

The fixed cats will stay at the clinic for about a day and once they are ready, the cats are returned out to the community. More domesticated cats that are caught and fixed will be sent to nonprofits such as Best Friends Animal Society, to be put up for adoption.

Taking their talents back to Israel

Let the Animals Live would not be possible without Myers' guidance and $500,000 in donations from those who care about the cause in Israel.

The team from the Israeli group will be flying back to their home country on Saturday to finish planning out the new clinic, which is expected to open in October.

"The clinic is going to be about an hour away from Tel Aviv and it's going to be state-of-the-art and wonderful," Mayer said. "For us to be able to come over here is truly the best."

--

Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

Copyright © 2017, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
51°