Stray cat on an empty lot. Photo: Prior Beharry
By Prior Beharry
FEEDING stray cats only encourages their population to grow and become a nuisance to residents.
So stated Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA) Sita Kuruvilla.
She was responding to questions posed to her from AZPNews.com about a stray cat infestation in the Valsayn area.
Kuruvilla said, “We are very aware of the current situation in Valsayn, both north and south. The cat population certainly in south Valsayn is supported by persons who leave piles of chow at various locations.
“This supports a breeding population. Cats can produce three to four litters a year and the females can themselves start breeding at around eight months.”
She added, “We at the TTSPCA and Animal Welfare Network don’t agree with the practice of feeding as the growing population encroaches on homes and becomes a nuisance with the fighting, mating and entering homes.”
Residents of Valsayn said within the last eight to ten months, cats have overtaken their neighbourhood coming into their yards and homes.
Kuruvilla said after the stray cat population grows, some residents start poisoning the animals as has happened in south Valsayn a few months ago.
She said cats were also killed by dogs and litters of kittens may even be killed by tomcats.
Kuruvilla said, “These cat populations are feral and therefore cannot be placed in homes. They are not easily caught, even if one was to consider a trap, neuter and return programme.
“We at the TTSPCA do not have the staff or resources to undertake such a project anyway.
“We are on a daily basis inundated with requests to take in cats and kittens.
“All must be vaccinated, cared for and then spayed or neutered at our expense before placing for adoption. The adoption fee that we charge does not cover these costs.
“The problem lies with the feeders of cats.”
Kuruvilla said in the first instance residents could help by trapping the stray cats, having them spayed and then return them to their location where they were picked up.
She said humane traps that cause no harm to the animal were available. The literature on TNR (Trap Neuter Return) is available online.
Kuruvilla said trapping the cats and dropping them at another location should not be an option.
She said, I would like to add that trapping these cats and dropping them at another location may seem preferable to some residents, however, from a welfare perspective, it is not an alternative.
“These cats, depend on the regular supply of food provided to them. If dropped at another location, most would starve.
“This abandonment of cats has occurred at Caroni swamp and in Chaguaramas among other locations. Many suffer. It also takes a toll on wildlife in the area.
“A difficult situation has been created. I hope in the residents’ response, the welfare of the animals is taken into consideration.”
President of the Valsayn Park North Association Neil Gosine said his organisation will look at the humane way to trap the animals and have them spayed. He said they will have have to investigate the logistics and the cost of doing this.
Gosine added that out of the 500 or so homes in the area only a few residents were feeding the cats. He said they did not want to bring any harm to the animals and will look at humanely dealing with the stray cats as they have become a nuisance.
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