street cats

Street cats still multiplying at ‘unsustainable levels’, warns Animal Rescue Algarve

ARA “fears streets will become flooded with animals, alive or dead”

ARA (Animal Rescue Algarve) is sounding the alert. In spite of its work and efforts to transform animal welfare in and around Loulé, the association fears local authorities have simply ‘under estimated the size of the problem’ they have on their doorsteps.

These last months from May through to July have registered an abnormal increase in requests for help for street cats – particularly newborn kittens.

“Although the problem of feral cats is not new, the rate at which these animals are multiplying is extremely concerning, especially when most private shelters – like ARA’s one at Cabanita – are full, and most municipal shelters are either inadequate or non-existent”, says a recent press release.

ARA’s focus this year is on its MEGA community cat project (in Portuguese Vila dos Gatos), but it cannot work miracles without the commitment of local authorities – and this is where things look like they are coming unstuck.

Says the release: “ARA fears that the streets will become flooded with animals, alive or dead. Despite their best efforts, shelters are currently struggling to keep up with the increase in numbers, with the majority of associations being overcrowded and understaffed, meaning that, without urgent further assistance, there will be a breaking point soon”.

A lot of factors have contributed to this dilemma – the ban on euthanising animals for population control purposes in 2018 – which failed, as many said it would, to be accompanied by measures and mechanisms necessary to control the inevitable increase in animal numbers – the lack of effective mass sterilisation campaigns/ adequate facilities and management that can catch and return animals to their colonies post-sterilisation, among many other things.

But what the general breakdown means is that cruelty and mistreatment continue on a daily basis: newborn kittens are still found dumped in rubbish bins; adult cats are callously mutilated (in worst case scenarios) or poisoned, and left to die in agony.

As ARA’s alert stresses, “it is in the public interest to tackle this issue now, because it affects the lives of all citizens – from both daily order and public health perspectives”.

No one wants to see sick animals dying in the streets – but that is where things are headed, says the association which believes its Vila do Gatos project needs all the support it can get.

Essentially, the plan is based on mass sterilisations “as the only and most immediate solution to the problem, since street cats are reproducing much faster than they are passing away”.

The project aims to sterilise 1500 feral cats a year – providing fresh water and food regularly, and installing up to 40 shelters a year across Loulé.

The blueprint maps out a future in which the number of reproducing cats should be halved in five years, and brought under total control in 10.

But Vila dos Gatos needs the funds, the will and the commitment of all local authorities involved to succeed. And clearly that is still missing.

Bottom line: this is not a problem that will go away. It will only get worse.

To learn more about Animal Rescue Algarve:

[email protected]