Sunday. I read about discussion in Greece on a proposal for the compulsory sterilisation of stray cats and dogs. There are similarities in Portugal: concerns about animal welfare and a burgeoning stray population. However, there is some cultural resistance to neutering.
I have heard most of the arguments, such as people saying, “it’s not natural”. Hmm. By that reckoning, it’s “natural” for a female cat or dog to be worn out with endless, successive pregnancies and to bin or drown the newborn litters?
In the article I read in The Guardian, One animal welfare spokesperson said that Greek men are “especially opposed because they equate sterilisation with denuding animals of their manhood.”
Recently, I read a claim on Facebook that neutered female cats were more prone to diabetes. “Just ask any vet” the writer said. So I did. The claim is complete b****x. The one thing that makes your pet more vulnerable to diabetes is being overweight. So stop feeding it titbits and treats! Encourage your cat to play, and take the dog for a walk! (Note to self: those extra lockdown pasteis de nata have not done you any favours).
Monday. It turns out there are 11 Veranda cats, not 10. The cats were stranded on the back veranda of an apartment in the centre of Olhão, after the building of a hotel cut off their “walkways” to rooftops and the street. They have all now been captured, but are skin and bone. The youngest have to recover in a half-way house before they can be neutered and transferred to the ADAPO* cat shelter.
A couple of years ago at the Olhão Municipal canil, or kennels, a rescued dog was so thin that the vet said you could practically see through her, and called her “Transparente”. The name stuck. But a happy ending; she regained weight, came out for walkies, and was later re-homed.
Tuesday. To date, 103 cats have been neutered on the Ilha de Armona. Thanks are due to the remarkable funding efforts of SOS Animal Algarve, and the work of Fatima and her family, who by now must know every cat on the island; Gil, who transported them with his boat to and from the island, and Célia, who drove them to and from the vets. If you meet an Armona Cat, it will have the tip of its left ear clipped off. Vets do this to show that the stray cat has been neutered, thus avoiding re-capture of a cat, or unnecessarily repeating surgery.
There are an estimated 8 colonies of between 12-20 felines on the island. But a controlled cat population means healthier cats, with no unwanted kittens. And let’s face it, happier tourists! Unexpectedly, the vets reported they had found one cat with both male and female reproductive kit. (You weren’t expecting that, either, were you?) The Armona cats have also been vaccinated against rabies, and carry a microchip. Each one is technically the property of Olhão Municipal Council, and has a name. We ran out of suitable names early on, so many are just called “Tigrado Amarelo”, or “Preto Zangado” (ginger, angry black cat, etc). The hermaphrocat was called Lola, L-O-L-A.
Wednesday. I’m not going to post any misery photos of abandoned kittens. But more have been found, this time by the side of the road. All this brings me to the ADAPO campaign of trap-neuter-return.
The Olhão Urban Cats Project will target specific colonies in the city, starting with large numbers at the Olhanense stadium, the Municipal Piscinas area, Olhão cemetery and other sites. We work in conjunction with trusted local vets. ADAPO volunteers will capture the cats, and transport them to the surgery where they are examined, sterilised, receive a long-lasting antibiotic and rest overnight before they are returned to their colonies.
All cats will also get a microchip and anti-rabies vaccine, legal requirements, funded by Olhão Municipal Council. We welcome your suggestions for names. ADAPO will photograph each cat captured and publish details of their return on our Facebook page.
If you can donate, ADAPO will be able to pay the vets for the surgery for as long as funds allow. Please give a reference for any donations: Olhão Urban Cats Project. Details for donations are as follows:
NIB: 0033 0000 4526918084305
ADAPO main FB page (in Portuguese): https://www.facebook.com/adapo.pt/
ADAPO Bigodes/ Whiskers for Adoption (in Portuguese and English): https://www.facebook.com/ADAPO-Bigodes-para-Ado%C3%A7%C3%A3o-em-Olh%C3%A3o-Whiskers-for-Adoption-in-Olh%C3%A3o-107847097748659
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
*ADAPO - Associação de Defesa dos Animais e Plantas de Olhão. Founder: Célia Caravela