In Qatar we have a serious issue with cat over-population, it causes all sorts of problems because a lot of people aren’t cat lovers to start with, plus when the cats aren’t fixed (neutered/spayed) the behaviour associated with mating (yowling and fighting) does not help their case, or indeed the continual flow of offspring. Unfortunately, this often results in residents complaining about the cats and asking for them to be removed, or taking things into their own hands, neither bodes well for the cats – who after all, didn’t ask to be born into such harsh circumstances!
The life of a street cat in the Middle East is extremely hard. Limited food sources, a harsh desert climate (over 50 degrees in the summer), people who are cruel and abuse them, plus the safety aspect of living next to busy roads.
Can you imagine the poor female trying to keep her kittens safe and heaven forbid a cat gets injured or sick …
On the gated compound where I live we do have our fair share of street cats, some people love them, some hate them and want them gone. However, there is a solution to keeping the number of cats under control, addressing the concerns of residents and also protecting the cats. Trap/Neuter/Return commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling the feral cat population. Using this technique all the feral cats in a colony are trapped, neutered/spayed and then returned to their territory.
BENEFITS OF TRAP NEUTER RETURN
- No more nuisance behaviour – studies show TNR improves relationships with human neighbours. TNR puts an end to the behaviours associated with mating (howling and fighting), that are often cited as concerns by residents. One study found that after Trap-Neuter-Return was implemented, the calls of complaint from residents about cats significantly decreased.
- The population stabilizes—no new kittens! Once TNR is in place, the cats will no longer reproduce, the population will stabilize.
- No issues with rats and mice – cats are predatory animals and help keep the mouse and rat population down! Even the scent of a cat deters rats; we would be overrun with rats if it wasn’t for the cats.
COMPOUND TNR CAT PROJECT
TNR is the solution we need on my compound (and in the whole of Qatar). I have done TNR extensively in various countries and a group of people on my compound have already started fixing the cats and are dedicated to making this work. The only thing holding us back is raising enough funds to cover the vets’ bills; it costs at least USD 70 to spay a cat! I am donating 20% from the sale of each piece of my Original Mixed Media Artwork to help fund a spay or neuter, it is nowhere near enough money but at least it is a start. We want to show the compound management and the residents, that there is a humane solution that allows the cats and the residents to live peacefully together. Our compound cats are fed by volunteers and carefully monitored by their carers to ensure they stay healthy but they are sadly under threat because their numbers are growing too rapidly, so we have to move fast and get them all fixed!
MEET OUR COMPOUND CATS
Here are just a few of our compound cats – they are very camera shy so might take a while before I get many good photos on here! Actually, we do also try to keep them wary of humans, the reality is that unfortunately, not everyone is nice to cats here.
You may notice some very “fluffy” looking cats who do not look like the native short-haired Arabian Mau, this is sadly because people dump their unwanted pets on the streets, leaving cats who aren’t equipped to handle the desert climate and have no idea how to fend for themselves. Outside one villa lives a cat whose family packed up, left the country and abandoned him on the street to fend for himself, he still sits outside what used to be his home – can you even imagine a person who would do such a thing, sadly it happens all too often. Fortunately for our compound cats, they will at least be fixed and receive food, thanks to a group of volunteers who care.
If you would like to learn more about TNR, please have a look at this really good site: Alley Cat Allies