A male feral cat wakes up in recovery while a volunteer rubs his chest at the mobile spay and neuter clinic Sunday at American Legion Post 184 in Wildwood. The Animal Alliance of Cape May County Inc. received a grant to have feral cats of the Wildwoods spayed and neutered.

Dorothy Sheehan

WILDWOOD — In a MASH-style animal hospital Sunday, nearly 100 cats — mostly strays — were spayed and neutered in an assembly-line style clinic to humanely reduce feral populations.

Wildwood resident Lisa Taylor trapped 10 strays — seven females and three males — in her neighborhood and took them to the Animal Alliance of Cape May County’s one-day clinic, which offered free service for cats from the Wildwoods.

A cat lover, Taylor typically pays to have strays fixed, something she has done since 1983 and has cost “thousands,” she said.

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“It’s so sad, there are so many unwanted,” she said.

“I truly believe in TNR (trap, neuter and release), but I also believe in the follow-up, to put dry food and water out there in stations that are presentable. You don’t want to make your neighbors unhappy.”

The Animal Alliance of Cape May County, a nonprofit of about 20 active volunteers based in the Crest Haven complex in Middle Township, put on Sunday’s mobile clinic at the Wildwood American Legion Post 184 on Atlantic Avenue in Wildwood.

The organization used a $22,000 donation from PetSmart Charities to offer free service Sunday to the Wildwoods, said Lew Vinci, president of the Animal Alliance. For cats from other areas, there was a standard $55 charge, he said.

“It’s going to stop a lot of litters from being born, and it’s going to curb the spread of rabies because they’re all being vaccinated,” said Vinci, 50, a Buena Vista Township resident who is originally from North Wildwood.

The organization, which offers low-cost spay and neuter programs by appointment at its Crest Haven location on Thursdays, is responsible for having fixed 17,000 animals since 2005, he said.

On Sunday, the cats — mostly feral, but some pets as well — were lined up in their cages, awaiting anesthesia, inoculations and the procedure that will prevent them from reproducing.

Afterward, volunteers gently massaged the animals as they awoke from the anesthesia.

Vinci said the Wildwoods can be a particular area of concern for stray cats, as their population tends to uptick at the end of the summer season.

Some of that, Vinci said, is due to vacationers who leave their pets behind at the end of the season.

“The other problem is people who just throw food out there and don’t do the whole job. They don’t understand getting a cat fixed is a part of the responsibility. That’s why education is a big part of our organization,” he said.

Chris O’Neill, a 22-year-old resident of Seaville, Upper Township, picked up his kitten, Leonard, on Sunday.

O’Neill, whose family has a plumbing business in Wildwood Crest, found the kitten about five months ago.

“She was sick. We got her to the vet, nursed her back to health,” he said. “It was right before Hurricane Sandy and she was on the side of the road. Her hair was kind of missing. My girlfriend saw her and she felt bad.”

So O’Neill got Leonard spayed. For those who don’t know, female cats are spayed.

“We didn’t know if it was a girl at the time,” he said.

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