A New Flatbush Cats Clinic Is Bringing Affordable Care to Brooklyn
Brooklyn pets and parents can expect their new neighbor to arrive this summer.
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Listen up, Brooklyn pet parents: There’s a new affordable vet clinic coming to the heart of the borough this summer, on track for late summer. For the past year, Flatbush Cats founder Will Zweigart and the dedicated animal lovers on his team have been building a brand-new, low cost, high-volume spay/neuter and basic care veterinary clinic from the ground up. The new clinic will be located on Flatbush Avenue, just a few blocks north of Brooklyn College.
“Construction is well underway,” Zweigart tells The Wildest, as his rescue cat, Garfield, purrs away on his lap. “We signed the lease last year, but we are really taking the time to get it right at every stage because, ultimately, we know the need in New York is massive, and we want to build a facility that can accommodate high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter surgery, as well as the critical wellness care that all of our pets need.”
Zweigart moved to Flatbush in 2017 and founded Flatbush Cats in an effort to help the countless feral cats who roamed the neighborhood. “Any block I went on, I could find three colonies with 10 to 20 cats,” he says. “That really lit a fire in me, and I wanted to not just help these cats, but to prevent more cats from ever suffering in the future.”
The answer, he decided, was a combination of adoption services and, more importantly, TNR (trap, neuter, return). Through TNR, Flatbush Cats is able to control the feral cat population without destroying them or relying on individuals to take them in. “This simply is not a problem we can adopt our way out of,” Zweigart says. “Because, look, I love rescuing cats, and I love fostering and socializing spicy kittens — all that good stuff is so fun and heartwarming and rewarding — but if that’s all we’re doing, we’ll never actually get ahead of the problem. We need to make sure that fewer kitten are being born on an annual basis in New York. Then we can give each one that is born the home that they deserve.”
City Cat Parents Need Help Now More Than Ever
In a city where basic spay/neuter surgeries can run pet owners between $600 and $2,000, Flatbush Cats aims to offer services well below even the low end of that range and be as competitive and accessible as possible. “I’m not ready to share the exact numbers just yet, but let me put it this way: I think they are going to be very well-received,” he says.
People across the city who depended on access to low-cost vets to care for their pets have been left in the lurch ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, when many non-profit and low-cost veterinary providers shut down and feral cat populations exploded.
“Flatbush Cats is doing the hard thing, which is to build this veterinary clinic — while we’re having record-high inflation, while we have a veterinary shortage, while it’s expensive to do anything in New York, let alone build a facility,” Zweitgert says. “It doesn’t matter. None of those things matter. We have to do this because people need those services.”
The Future of Flatbush Cats
Zweigart’s goal is for his new clinic to perform 7,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the first year and grow from there. To that end, he has partnered with veterinarian Dr. Casey Singh, who specializes in high-volume spay/neuter surgery.
Dr. Singh spent her first three years out of veterinary school working in emergency medicine. “I was extremely busy and the facility open 24/7, so it was really hard.” Still, she found the time and energy to volunteer on the side, performing spay/neuter surgeries for her local TNR, Alley Cat Advocates. “That work was the light that kept me going during those dark times,” she says.
Now that the new clinic is preparing to open its doors, Dr. Singh is excited to make spay/neuter her primary focus. “I’ve always found comfort in doing the same thing every day,” she says. “And, of course, you get a huge variety of different surgeries [within spay/neuter]. You’ll see cats that are in heat, cats that are pregnant, fat ones, skinny ones, malnourished ones, body malformations — all of which keep things interesting. But, ultimately, I really like the routine of it. It was a really nice change from the chaotic nature of emergency medicine to be able to be like, ‘All right, I know exactly what I’m going to be doing every single day,’ and to walk in with that confidence. Also, I just really enjoy it.”
Dr. Singh is thrilled to be in a position to provide affordable care to the community. “Not having your animal spayed or neutered can lead to tons of problems later in life, which I have seen in emergency medicine often,” she says. “I’ve had to euthanize animals multiple times because of it. So, it really is great to know that I can help in that small way and get back to the root of why I became a veterinarian.”
Essential Support For the Final Stages
At the end of the day, Dr. Singh and her colleagues do the work that they do because they love animals and want to help them lead the best lives possible. “We want animals to stay with their owners. We don’t want them to end up homeless. We don’t want them to end up in shelters or euthanized because their owners can’t afford the cost of healthcare. And while I will say that I do not think owning a pet is a right, I do think everyone deserves access to affordable veterinary care.”
As the clinic nears its grand opening, Zweigart and the team at Flatbush Cats are making a final push for essential funding. To that end, they’ve recruited celebrity allies, including actor Rosie Perez and her partner, artist Eric Haze, to help them get the word out. The couple also recently joined the Flatbush Cats board of directors.
“They are the proud parents of several rescue cats, so they know first-hand about the scope of the problem,” Zweigart says. “At the same time, Rosie is a Brooklyn native, and I think our belief that this is, ultimately, an equity issue really resonated with both of them. They believe, like we do, that how much money you have in your pocket shouldn’t dictate whether or not you get to enjoy the love and companionship of a pet.”
If you’d like to learn more about Flatbush Cats’ clinic, you can find them here, and click below to donate to help them continue their essential work.
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