Con­trol­ling feral cat colonies is es­sen­tial

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - OPINION -

The sub­ject of feral cats is a very sen­si­tive one, which sparks much de­bate. Peo­ple are ei­ther all for hav­ing the cats around or dead against them. There is no mid­dle ground.

But this is where Project Feral Cat (PFC) comes in.

The NPO was set up by a cat-lov­ing Richards Bay res­i­dent who, through her good works, is not only help­ing to keep the city’s feral cat colonies un­der con­trol, but is also at­tempt­ing to ed­u­cate peo­ple about feral cat colonies.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, ex­ter­mi­nat­ing a colony of feral cats will by no means do away with the prob­lem.

It will make it worse, be­cause other feral cats will sim­ply fill the gap cre­ated by the ex­ter­mi­na­tion, and start breed­ing, cre­at­ing the same prob­lem again.

The ges­ta­tion pe­riod of a cat is be­tween 58 and 67 days, and a fe­male cat can be­come preg­nant at just four months of age.

But what is per­haps more scary is that a fe­male cat can be­come preg­nant again very soon af­ter giv­ing birth.

So, keep­ing colonies un­der con­trol through ster­il­i­sa­tion is cru­cial.

But where do you start? By na­ture, feral cats are vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to catch, let alone get to the vet for ster­il­i­sa­tion.

PFC of­fers a ser­vice of hu­manely trap­ping, ster­il­is­ing and re-re­leas­ing feral cats, and has cul­ti­vated a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal vets.

But to carry out this work, the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­quires fund­ing from res­i­dents and busi­nesses will­ing to spon­sor ster­il­i­sa­tion cam­paigns for the cat colonies that have made a home on their premises.

Apart from her day job, PFC founder Heilke Ack­er­man spends much of her time fund-rais­ing and ap­peal­ing for spon­sor­ship.

The rest of her time she gets her hands dirty by ac­tively tak­ing part in ster­il­i­sa­tion cam­paigns.

Some cor­po­rates in Richards Bay and sur­rounds have come on board by spon­sor­ing cam­paigns for the cats on their premises, but there are so many more colonies that need to be done.

Feral cats are not one per­son’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, but it is up to all of us to con­trib­ute to keep­ing these colonies, which can quickly be­come pests, un­der con­trol through ster­il­i­sa­tion.

This is a project we all should spon­sor and so con­trib­ute col­lec­tively to con­trol­ling an is­sue af­fect­ing us all.

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