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WSPA counters abandonment of cats in China

May 2, 2008

In March 2008, WSPA began investigating claims that a mass 'cat cull' was planned in China in advance of the Olympic Games, as was reported in several news sources.

To date we have found neither evidence nor direct reports of indiscriminate catching/trapping of cats by the authorities of Beijing.  However, a service was established via the 18 district offices in Beijing offering a cat ‘collection' service apparently intending to operate as a ‘pound'.  Information via local media advertised this service for citizens, stating some unsubstantiated information about cat diseases, subsequently spreading fear among cat owners.  As a result many people either abandoned or requested collection of their own, healthy cats or community colony cats (some already cared and fed by members of the community, some even neutered by the 'Lucky Cats' group of Beijing).  Cats were collected and then held at a central holding adoption facility.  Reports of some killings were conveyed but none witnessed.

This facility was visited on March 28, 2008 by representatives of some international and local animal protection organizations. Over 50 cats remained in individual vertically stacked cages, most with signs of infectious viral 'cat flu'.  They did have food and water at the time of visit.  Some cages had dates as far back as March 2007, so it is possible the collection service has occurred over the past year.  Cats were apparently only available for adoption if healthy, which was few.

The unbalanced information from the authorities has, and continues to cause the unnecessary abandonment or surrender of animals.  WSPA's Beijing office is providing Responsible Cat Ownership educational material for Beijing animal protection organizations to distribute to Beijing citizens and cat owners to counter further abandonment and explain ways to care for cats as pets.  Our office in Beijing will continue to monitor this situation, and China Small Animal Protection Association, Lucky Cats and other local contacts have also met with the authorities offering advice and suggestions.

Promoting long-term solutions

WSPA works with local animal welfare groups and governments around the world to address stray cat and dog problems humanely and comprehensively. Effective long term management can only be achieved through working with the local communities to encourage responsible ownership.

Kate Blaszak, Veterinary Programs Manager for WSPA Asia, emphasizes the importance of education about pet ownership to prevent cats from being unwanted and abandoned in the first place:

“We are working to get the message out that cats are safe pets, particularly if vaccinated, de-wormed and sterilized, to encourage people to be responsible pet owners and not let their cats or unwanted offspring end up homeless”.

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A cat cared for by member society the Phuket Animal Welfare Society, Thailand