A van loaded with stray cats from the Saint John SPCA set out on the road early Saturday morning for P.E.I, to help the city get a handle on its out-of-control stray cat problem.

The cats were sent to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown to be spayed and neutered as a part of Saint John's "Operation Catnip," in an effort to save money on spay/neutering costs.  

It normally costs the Saint John shelter about $86 to spay a female cat and about $56 to neuter a male, but the college is charging $25 and $10, respectively, for the same service.

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In Saturday's trip there were 33 strays and two cats from low income families sent to P.E.I. to get spayed/neutered. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Volunteer Sheila Whitworth helped load the 35 cats into carriers early Saturday morning.  

"We're overwhelmed with stray cats," she said. "People get a cute little kitten for Christmas, come February it's not a cute little kitten anymore. It's scratching their furniture, it's scratching their kids, they dump it."  

A search for a solution to the cat population boom began this summer.  

In Saturday's trip there were 33 strays and two cats from low income families.  

Dave Snyder is one of the drivers transporting the cats in what has been nicknamed the "neuter scooter."  

"We got to take care of the cats, over and back. And while they're there in the recovery room, we got to stay with them there."  

Once it's over, Snyder and the cats will drive back, where the strays will be put up for adoption. Shelter Manager Kathy Illingworth hopes they won't always have to go through this much trouble.  

"Maybe down the road they could actually set-up a mobile clinic and come here to do this," said Illingworth.