What do you do if you visit an area famous for its street cats but discover there’s no spay-neuter program you can donate to?

You start one of course! That is how Kotor Kitties began as the first on-going program offering free neutering in Montenegro. It was 2018 when some American tourists and their Airbnb hosts agreed to raise money to fund 10 spay surgeries through the local family vet in Kotor Municipality; they had no idea that there were no other neutering programs in the entire country

In its first year, Kotor Kitties spayed and neutered 796 cats, expanded to work in 3 municipalities, began a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program, fielded numerous reports of sick, injured, and abandoned animals and helped coordinate care through its Facebook and Instagram pages.

Kotor Kitties attributes the program’s rapid growth to the TNR program made possible in part by a donation from SNIP International. Even before Kotor Kitties was eligible to apply for a donation, SNIPi pointed the charity to an equipment distributor in the UK, MDC Exports, who kindly offered a discount on equipment and helped solve the problem of prohibitive shipping costs to Montenegro.

SNIPi’s generous equipment grant last autumn gave a huge boost to the trapping program. Prior to this, there was only one humane trap known to be available in the entire country, and it circulated from community to community. At times it would “disappear” for months – meaning it wasn’t passed on – and the rescue community couldn’t remember who had it. But then it would resurface and be passed on again. The small amount of TNR work that was done was mainly by tourists employing laundry baskets and boxes!

Now at the 18-month point, over 1,500 cats have been neutered by Kotor Kitties.

Kotor Kitties has a core group of volunteers, along with its Board of Directors, who together form the organisation’s ‘Planning Committee’. People were nervous about whether the precious TNR traps would be cared for or quickly disappear. Each has a stainless-steel ID tag attached, labelled with an ID number, the group’s name and contact, and the request that if found it be returned to the closest veterinary clinic. And so far, the group happily reports that the check-out and return process is going smoothly, as people are so happy to be able to engage in catching, neutering and returning the cats in the safest and least stressful manner for cats and humans alike!

April King, General Coordinator, Kotor Kitties

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