A local cat rescue group will be fixing its 45,000th cat this weekend.
Operation Catnip, a nonprofit spaying and neutering project for feral and stray cats, is hosting a free clinic Sunday.
The caregiver of the lucky 45,000th cat will receive a gift bag, and there will be a cake to commemorate the accomplishment.
But despite the number of cats spayed or neutered, the nonprofit’s job is nowhere near finished, said Julie Levy, a UF professor of shelter medicine and founder of Operation Catnip.
“We know there are so many more cats that need our help that we’re not reaching,” Levy said. “We can celebrate for one day, and then we have to figure out how to reach those other cats.”
Alachua County’s intake per capita is relatively high, sitting at about 23 animals per 1,000 people, said Audrey Garrison, executive director of Operation Catnip.
Since the Gainesville chapter’s inception in 1998, Operation Catnip has provided free spaying and neutering to stray and feral cats, courtesy of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.
“We need to have the cats that are out there healthy and happy and not being a nuisance,” said Emily Henderson, the cat and caregiver coordinator at Operation Catnip.
To participate, residents in the Gainesville area can request a free trap from Operation Catnip and bring in the stray or feral cat to the college on the day of the event.
On average, each event aids about 150 cats and requires about 105 volunteers to help with the cats’ arrival, surgery and recovery.
To volunteer at the event, fill out an online application at ocgainesville.org and attend a quick orientation before the event. To make a reservation for Sunday’s spay and neuter clinic, call 352-380-0940.
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 2/3/2015 under the headline “Operation Catnip to pounce past milestone at free clinic"]
Veterinarians perform surgeries to spay and neuter feral and stray cats in a clinic hosted by Operation Catnip.