On Valentine’s Day, you can neuter a cat named after your ex

On Valentine’s Day, you can neuter a cat named after your ex

After years of the scorned and lovelorn turning old love letters into toilet paper or gleefully watching hungry meerkats gobble up cockroaches named for their exes, some pet shelters are taking Valentine’s Day revenge offerings to the next level.

“Neuter your ex” campaigns popped up across the country this year, from Maryland to Michigan to Washington state. Getting back at an ex can now mean neutering or spaying a cat because “some things shouldn’t breed,” as one New Jersey animal shelter put it.

Most work the same way: For a donation ranging from $25 to $50, animal organizations promise to fix a cat and name it after an ex bestie, lover or boss.

There’s a plot twist though: What might seem like the ultimate revenge is actually an act of love — in more ways than one, said Sam Ellingson, communications and marketing director for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.

“It’s shock advertising,” Ellingson said. “You’re pushing as close to that boundary as you can to catch someone’s attention, and get them to linger on that message or concept a little bit longer, as a means to really connect with them and to talk about the primary goal, which is to help fund spay and neuter for pets in our community.”

Is using a cat as a stand-in for a not-so-great ex petty or vengeful? Maybe. But it also helps reduce the number of unwanted animals in the community, Ellingson said — meaning, there’s more space and resources in shelters for pets “that don’t have anyone to care for them or need advanced medical care.”

Plus, for any animal to be put up for adoption, it must first be fixed — “so the campaign, in a way, is actually also helping these pets find a loving home,” Ellingson said.

In Baltimore, the volunteer Feline Rescue Association is another group masking its love with vengeance this Valentine’s Day — vowing to use proceeds from its own “neuter your ex” campaign to finance a feral-feline population control method known as TNR, for “trap-neuter-release.”

Every week, Elaine Rice and other volunteers tend to the city’s booming feline colonies — groups of cats that have either been abandoned or were born into a life on the streets. The cats are tracked, fed and given medical care. And once or twice a month, the group tries to trap them in cages — sometimes using chicken nuggets or homemade bait — so they can be neutered or spayed by veterinarians.

“It’s a labor of love that we do out of our own pockets because we simply love cats,” Rice said. “… We’re doing this not because we don’t want there to be cats anymore, but because we want a better life for these cats.”

In theory, TNR is a long-term method that gradually depletes cat colonies by preventing the animals from leaving litters upon litters of descendants behind. And, its proponents argue, it’s a more humane method than killing them outright.

“I mean, you have to remember that in eight years, you can get over 2 million cats from just one unfixed pair,” Rice said, adding that cats reproduce multiple times throughout the year and have bountiful litters. “Mating for them is pure instinct. And unfortunately, their instinct will often have them mating with their parents and siblings, and then your massive inbreeding issues.”

On the prowl with a trapper who works to keep D.C.’s feral-cat population in check

Apart from genetic issues, feral cat populations are often teeming with diseases that can spread to pets or even humans, said Jeanette Davis, a board member and volunteer at the Feline Rescue Association. When unfixed, cats also tend to be a lot feistier and willing to fight with one another. And mushrooming feral cat populations put native species — particularly birds — at risk.

With the over $1,300 the Feline Rescue Association has received so far with its “neuter your ex campaign,” the group will have enough resources to spay or neuter at least 30 cats — about a third of what the organization accomplished last year, Davis said.

One of those cats will be named “Robot Mansplainer,” she said, after a donor’s ex.

“She couldn’t remember his actual name because she had him in her phone as ‘robot mansplainer,’” Davis said. “So we’re naming the cat that. I’m very excited about it, I’m not going to lie.”

Other cats will be named Charles, Charlie, Steve or Stephen, Crystal, Emily, Brad and Chad. Several more will be called Joe, John, Jordan and Jonathan.

In Washington state, Ellingson said someone sent over a request for a Lord Voldemort, after the Harry Potter villain. “But these pets need some adoptable names, so I changed that particular one to Tom Riddle,” he said, referring to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s given name.

On Valentine’s Day, you can neuter a cat named after your ex

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