By Cheyenne Kent
The Heaven Can Wait Animal Society’s Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) doesn’t just target the overpopulation of feral cats. Community Cat Coalition of Clark County (C5) president Keith Williams said it focuses on actively solving the problem.
“By stopping the reproduction, we stop the impact on the community,” Williams said. “It’s about managing the numbers.”
Williams estimated that with OCS sterilizing about 200 wild felines a session, they prevent a load of 800 kittens to deal with later. He said sterilization causes mating behaviours to go away, which result in fewer complaints from the community.
Once a month, volunteer vets spay and neuter strays that volunteer trappers bring in from known cat colonies. They are first anesthetized and then permanently fixed before they move on to be groomed and held by volunteers. The cats wake up to find their right ear clipped to indicate that the sterilization procedure was performed.
None of these feral cats are adopted, and they are returned to the colony they were trapped in after a holding period. Males are held for around 24 hours and female felines for 48 hours. Williams explained that feral cats beyond eight weeks old are deemed beyond ability to socialize.
“This is probably the best medical care these cats get in all their lives,” said Williams, adding that the cats are also evaluated for medical problems and that the clinic doesn’t see a lot of those in the feral community.
On thier website, C5 says they’ve trapped and sterilized 904 cats.
Williams estimates that the stray cat population has decreased six percent this year, and this number increases one and a half percent a year. He said by keeping track of these efforts, all resources of OCS can be put into effective strategies.
OCS is a 100 percent volunteer program, and 100 percent of all donations go to vaccinations, surgeries and medicine. “[The volunteers] are a huge part of making [OCS] all work,” said Williams, adding that more volunteers and donations are always needed.
The Operation Clean Sweep program is the combined work of: Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, Community Cat Coalition of Clark County (C5), Las Vegas Valley Humane Society, Clark County Animal Control and The Animal Foundation.
“This is really about people in the community coming together, not just for the cats, but for the community,” Williams said.