STATEN ISLAND — An effort to curb an exploding population of stray cats in Staten Island neighborhoods has been launched by a nonprofit.
Neighborhood Cats, a group that works to control the population of feral colonies in the city, started "Staten Island Clean Sweep" in September to spay or neuter 1,000 strays in one year.
The group assembled a team of 11 trappers assigned areas known to have colonies of feral cats, said Susan Richmond, the group's executive director.
"Our long term goal is to have a major and sustained impact on the number of cats that are out there," Richmond said. "It is definitely a service to the public when there are fewer cats."
After they're trapped, the cats are taken to a local vet where they are vaccinated and spayed or neutered. Afterwards the group returns them to where they found them or puts them up for adoption at a local shelter.
The group set up a hotline and email address where residents can report stray cats they want spayed or neutered. Animal Care and Control will also give data concerning complaints about the animals, the group said.
Richmond said this is the group's second effort to spay or neuter strays — the first was in Jersey City where 250 cats were treated. The Staten Island project came after a $55,450 grant from PetSmart Charity was secured.
"There were pockets of cats located all across the borough," Richmond said. "It really needed a concentrated effort with the right resources."
Richmond estimated that the borough has several thousand stray cats in total. So far, the group has already fixed around 175 cats in the borough and averages about eight a day, Richmond said.
After the "Staten Island Clean Sweep" ends, Richmond said the group plans to keep a presence on Staten Island to help curb the population in the future.
"We'll look to maintain a presence on Staten Island until we really do have things under control," she said. "It's a solvable problem and we're committed to solving it."
Anybody who wants to report a stray cat in their neighborhood can call the hotline at 718-340-3868 or email CleanSweep@neighborhoodcats.org.