Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Municipality and Feline Friends are taking action to reduce the number of stray cats by 70 per cent and have recently signed a contract with four contractors to help them achieve their target.
By September 2007, there were more than 10,000 stray cats roaming the streets of Abu Dhabi, but each contractor's role will be to trap as many cats as possible in a humane manner.
The Pest Control Companies [PCC] will have to maintain a reasonable number of cats in each district to preserve their natural equilibrium.
The process begins by trapping the stray cats and placing them in individual cages. They are then moved to a warm and comfortable room where they are given food and water until the following day, when they are transported to the American Veterinary Clinic to be euthanised in a non-painful procedure.
"I know that some people may not agree with us about euthanising these cats, but it saves a lot of other cats in the future. Our plan is to reduce the number to at least 70 per cent so that we can control the amount of cats reproducing in the city," said Collin Signorino, Assistant Coordinator at Feline Friends.
If all goes as planned and the number of cats is reduced by 70 per cent, the municipality, contractors and Feline Friends will carry out discussions and the sterilisation process will begin by March 1.
"So far, I am happy with the outcome we have seen regarding stray cats. Our aim is to provide a non-cruel lifestyle for those cats to survive on the streets," said Anita Signorino, Coordinator at Feline Friends. She explained, "By reducing their numbers and sterilising the remaining healthy ones, they stand a chance of surviving on the streets.
"The only issue I have is that some of these street cats may be pets who have been abandoned or lost by their owners. Clinics who receive some of these cats should check for a microchip on the neck area to make sure they do not wrongly put the cat to sleep."
According to Signorino, the process of putting cats to sleep involves two injections.
The first injection puts the cat into a normal state of sleep and the second injection in a vein, helps the heart shut down. The animal does not feel any pain in the process.
The four contractors, namely under Alpha Med (AM) and Eagle Environmental Services and Pest Control (EESPC) have organised a five year public awareness programme for the public. It specifically targets pupils, people in malls and public areas.
"We have all invested Dh20 million for a five year plan for the Abu Dhabi community to develop a public awareness campaign. Our aim is to raise public understanding regarding cruelty towards animals," said Malek Hassan, Division Manager at Alpha Med.
He added, "People need to be educated on how to treat animals ... this is a crucial project that has already been submitted to the municipality who have approved it and we expect to start by May 1." According to Feline Friends, the winter days cause cats to die from starvation and a lack of shelter.
"We are trying our best to monitor the trapping process with the contractors and educate them regarding how to trap cats and where to shelter them," said a Feline Friends member.
"However, some of these cats are already found dead by the time trappers get to them due to being stuck in a car engine where they sometimes hide for shelter during the cold."
Gulf News got in touch with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and learnt that they had recently expressed their willingness to the municipality, to come to the city and help train the new contractors.
The new contractors expressed their interest at the prospect of receiving additional training.