Image Credit: COURTESY Dubai Muncipality

Dubai: Dubai Municipality received 3,284 notifications about stray cats in the emirate and captured 314 feral felines in the first half of this year, the civic body announced on Tuesday.

Hashim Mohammad Al Awadhi, the head of the Veterinary Section of the Department of Public Health Services at the municipality, said the section is carrying out a campaign to control the number of stray cats.

“Apart from attending to the complaints and reports about stray cats, we are checking all areas in Dubai every Saturday as part of the campaign.”

Speaking to Gulf News later, the official said the high number of notifications is because many reports on stray cats are by different people from same areas.

The cats nabbed by the vet control unit are then sterilised to prevent their proliferation, he said.

“If the cat is in good health, we release it to its habitat, the area where we had found it, to ensure the ecological balance of the environment. If it is in a very bad health condition or aggressive in nature, we have to put it to sleep.”

He said the municipality has implemented a comprehensive programme that has been approved by the World Society for the Protection of Animals to catch and sterilise stray cats.

Dr Murad Basheer Mustafa, the head of Therapeutic Services at the section, said the male cats are neutered and the female cats are spayed under the TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return) programme. Most of the captured cats are released back to the localities from where they had been netted, two days after the surgery for sterilisation.

The officials could not provide the number of cats that were euthanised.

Al Awadhi noted that there was no disagreement about the moral duties of taking care of animals and providing them good treatment as per religious beliefs.

However, he noted that people tend to forget the threat these animals pose towards public health and safety.

Many stray animals, especially the non-registered and non-vaccinated ones, transmit diseases to human beings and create lethal damage especially to the health of those who lack good immune system like elderly and children, Al Awadhi pointed out.

Diseases generally transmitted by stray cats include rabies and toxoplasmosis.

He said there was no case of rabies reported in Dubai in the recent past. However, he warned that toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that affects those who frequently deal with infected cats. may lead to abortions of pregnancy and deformation of the organs of babies.

The dangerous diseases that stray animals could pose call for the cat control programme and penalties for people who foster them, he noted.

The municipality imposes a fine of Dh200 if anyone is caught feeding stray cats.

Faisal Ebrahim Al Muammeri, the head of the Vet Control Section, said no such fine was issued in the first half of this year. “Usually, by the time we reach a spot after receiving a complaint about someone feeding stray cats, those people would have left,” he added.