Supervision, education needed to reduce stray cat numbers
by Phoebe Chau
Hong Kong streets have become too crowded, even for cats. Some of them have to be killed, the governent says. A total of 6,053 cats were enthanised from 2011 to 2013, according to government figures.
But some orginazations in Hong Kong say serilization is better than euthanasia.
A plan named "Trap-Neuter-Return" was introduced in 2000, aiming to ease the problem of too many wild cats by reducing their birth rate instead of euthanizing them.
The Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals been practicing TNR for 15 years and sterilised 51,000 stray cats.
Meanwhile, The Hong Kong Non-Profit making Veterinary Clinic has been running the Community Animal De-sexing Project since 2008, which works the same way as TNR, and so far has sterilised 1,310 cats.
"It is the most effective and civilised way to help homeless cats," said Zoie Cheng Kam-shan, public relations manager at the Hong Kong NPV.
But sterilisation, which is carried out only in certain territories, isn't getting the task done.
"The reproduction speed is too high," Ms Cheng said. "There can be six to eight baby cats per litter."
The Dogs and Cats Ordinance contains no specific regulations for cats as they are seen as less threatening than dogs.
"The Hong Kong government has extremely poor regulations on animal breeders," said Vivian Chiu, an education manager at SPCA.
Ms Chiu said 90 percent of cats for sale in pet shops come from illegal breeders. Hobby breeders will not need any license for breeding.
"Hobby breeders are exploiting the loopholes of the regulations," Ms Chiu said. "The result is cats are growing up in places like hell. Most of the cats raised by them are fragile."
Some people try to help the cats on their own.
"I have fed the street cats at the Cyberport Waterfront Park for three years, as I feel pity for them," said Ms Yu, a house wife who lives nearby and feeds stray cats every morning.
However, experts say feeding homeless cats can make the situation worse. Ms Chiu said the number of street cats in a certain area may increase if people simply feed them without de-sexing them.
"We do not encourage people to feed stray cats, it is an irresponsible behavior," she said.
Ms Chiu said neutering street cats should be the first step to solve the problem. After the neutering surgery, microchips will be implanted into the cats and the corners of thier ears will be cut for identification.
Animal activists say they are disappointed that the government pays little attention to stray cats.
Activists also appeal to pet owners not to abandon their cats. Animal Friends, a Hong Kong-based non-profitable charity organisation, educate pet owners on animal welfare.
(Edited by Airis Lin)
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