Abu Dhabi: Many residents are distressed over the way street cats are being euthanised and report that a number of pet cats have gone missing.

People said they have seen the private contractors trapping street cats, crowding the animals into small cages.

The trapping process is currently done by two pet control contractors under the Abu Dhabi Municipality. They are required to trap at least 10 cats per day.

As previously agreed with Feline Friends (FF), cats are meant to be placed in individual cages and transported to a safe, healthy shelter overnight, where they are given water and food. The next morning they are taken to the American Veterinary Clinic to be euthanised in a non-painful procedure.

It's a temporary solution aiming to decrease the number of street cats by 70 per cent until the sterilisation process begins, according to officials, on April 1.

An Abu Dhabi resident said: "My cat Roly disappeared on March 4. I spent the next day searching for him around pet shops in Abu Dhabi. I rang the pest control company to see if he had been trapped in my area. They would not give me the exact location of where they had been trapping over the phone - so I went to the pound to check if Roly was there. Sadly and thankfully, he wasn't," said the owner.

"When I went to the pound I found ten cats crowded into three cages. Since the cats were distressed and crammed into far too small cages we separated them and I arranged to follow the cats to the Falcon Hospital the next day where they would be euthanised."

Even though the agreement with FF and the contractors was to euthanise the cats in the American Veterinary Clinic, cats are still being transported to the Falcon Hospital.

"The next day I followed the trappers to the municipality site in Mussafah. Another pest control company was waiting there with two traps containing 18 cats.

"A small van from the Falcon Hospital came to collect the cats from the yard, but the van was too small to carry all the cages. At that point we had insisted on moving the cats to separate cages. In the end the company took some cats directly to the Falcon Hospital. The Falcon vehicle took the other cats."

The resident said she followed the two vehicles to the hospital, but they would not allow her to see how or where the cats were euth-anised. "Their reluctance to allow me to view the procedure left me with doubts about whether the cats were being dealt with in a humane manner," said the concerned cat owner.

Anita Signorino, of FF Abu Dhabi, sent a letter to the trapping companies complaining that the cats are treated inhumanely.

"We want to work together but Feline Friends cannot be affiliated with companies who treat cats that way. I don't want to end my relationship with the contractors but some of them have no idea of how to treat those cats. They are transporting them in wrong way. They are doing other things right but it's that one thing that I find inhumane," she said.

'Bad luck'

Gulf News contacted a spokesperson at Falcon Hospital, who said: "Both pet control companies are dealing with the cats humanely with 99 per cent care and accuracy. It only happened once that the cats were delivered late and they ran out of cages so had to put more than one cat in a cage. Our team was ready to euthanise the cats directly after they were delivered and it took less than ten minutes to get the procedure done."

Around 15 cats are euthanised per day at Falcon Hospital, he said, not including Friday and Saturday. The procedure of euthanising the cats involves giving anaesthesia. Once the cats are sleeping, they are given a C61 injection, a type of poison. The cats feel no pain and are instantly put to sleep.

The Falcon Hospital spokesperson added: "There is no reason for FF to complain against these [trapping] agencies. Those agencies are trying their best and are doing a great job. We recently stumbled upon two clean, friendly street cats that we dared not euthanise. When we returned them to one of the companies they placed both cats in safe homes. What are they doing wrong?"

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Your comments

The so-called feline lovers do not think twice before dumping leftovers for the cats to feast on. The hazards are cats multiply without any control. I know of many friends who were bitten/scratched by stray cats. Any one interested in raising a pet at home is fine. But stray cats moving around in residential, industrial areas are clearly a risk and have to be controlled.
Posted: March 29, 2008, 09:29