Carol Ann Geldenhuys, founder of Dubai-based non-profit animal welfare group Kittysnip.
PHOTO BY SUPPLIED
DUBAI – What do you do if you spot a furry feline on the street?
It is not unusual to find stray cats roaming the streets of the UAE. Unfortunately, there just are not enough homes for all cats on the streets.
So what can you do to make their life a little better?
In Dubai, feeding stray animals is actually a violation and invites fines of Dh200. The Dubai Municipality said that the rule is aimed at preventing the risk of humans catching disease. Although the rule has been in place since 2003, it hasn’t been strictly enforced.
Expat Media talked to Carol Ann Geldenhuys, founder of Dubai-based non-profit animal welfare group Kittysnip, on her tips to caring for stray cats.
Here’s what the expert says:
The number one priority is to try and neuter the stray cats that you are feeding. A well-fed cat will automatically breed, which is the last thing you want.
If it’s at your workplace, it may be a good idea to suggest a new Corporate Social Responsibility activity for your company – for instance helping to have the stray cats in the area neutered.
Dubai is a desert. We have loads of snakes, scorpions, rats and mice among us. The community cats help to keep them under control. It is a myth that a well-fed cat won’t catch them. It’s part of a cat’s nature to – they are natural hunters even when they are not hungry.
If you are dealing with cats in your residential area, it may be a good idea to try and get all the neighbours to join forces and contribute to having the cats neutered. This act of kindness will benefit not only the cats but everyone in the neighbourhood. A lot of the charity groups will be able to assist you.
When feeding stray cats, follow these helpful tips:
• Do not feed them milk. Cats are lactose intolerant. Give them fresh water instead.
• Do not feed them bones of any kind, especially chicken or fish bones.
• Don’t give them spicy food to eat
• Don’t place food directly onto the ground. It makes a mess and attracts ants.
In the majority of these cases, the mother has gone to hunt or find food and will return. A lot of people make the mistake of picking up the kittens. When the mum returns, she is left frantically looking for her babies. The best thing to do is leave the kittens if they’re in a safe, comfortable place. But keep closely monitoring from a distance to see if and when the mother returns.
Most diseases that infect cats can only be spread from cat to cat, not from cat to human. You are much more likely to catch an infectious disease from the person standing in line with you at the grocery store than from a cat. In fact, a 2002 review of cat-associated diseases published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that, “cats should not be thought of as vectors for disease transmission.”
Ear-tipping is a widely accepted means of marking a feral cat who has been sterilized. It also often identifies them as being part of a cared colony. Ear-tipping is the humane surgical removal of 1/4 tip of the left ear. The procedure is performed by a licensed veterinarian, typically during the spay/neuter surgery.
Unfortunately, you are going to come across many cats on the streets. No one knows exactly how many. But it’s estimated to be over 200,000. If the cat is in a safe area and happy, what you can do is leave it some water. Also, check if the cat has been neutered or spayed already by checking for an ear tip. If not, it would be worthwhile looking into TNR (trap-neuter-return).
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says TNR has been shown to be the least costly and the most humane and efficient way of stabilising community cat populations.
The other option would be to rehome the cat or look for someone to adopt it.
There are organizations that take in sick or abandoned animals and offer them medical assistance then advertise to re-home them. You can also contact your local veterinarian and explain it is a stray cat and ask for charity rates or you could try contact one of the non-profit charity groups.
Animal Action UAE
Email: Email: [email protected]
Rescue of Abu Dhabi
Facebook: Click here
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