Cats trapped, neutered and returned as part of cat management on fish factory premises

Floris Steenkamp

When you enter any fish processing facility in Walvis Bay, be sure that everyone and everything on that particular premises is subjected to some or other system or cycle of management. Whether you are an employee, a visitor, a feral cat living on the premises or whether it is an asset like a processing machine or a fishing vessel – some or other management system keeps track.

And yes, you read correctly – feral cats. Several fish factories at Walvis Bay have joined a voluntary Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program whereby feral cats living on fish factory premises are captured, neutered at a local vet and then returned to the premises to do what cats do best – hunting mice and rats.
The program is an initiative by the Have-A-Heart Foundation which distinguished itself across Namibia as a lea-ding voice for responsible domestic animal ownership and care. From neutering pro-grams in townships to this latest initiative to control cat populations on industrial premises without having to kill the animals in order to keep numbers under control.
“Killing cats is Ineffective. There are feral cats all over Walvis Bay. Because of the avail-ability of food, they are attracted to the fish factories. Many of these cats and their kittens end up at the local S.P.C.A.”, explained a spokes-person for the Have-A-Heart Foundation in Walvis Bay this week.
Adding, the SPCA does not have the capacity nor the financial means to look after all these cats. To reintegrate cats to new families is difficult and in the case of feral cats it poses even more of a challenge.
“Killing cats to eradicate them as a nuisance animal has proven to be ineffective. If cats are removed from a site, this creates a “vacuum” effect: other cats will take their place and start reproducing. The cycle starts again. Killing cats is also cruel and in-humane and thus cannot be justified towards an animal-loving public. In addition to that the animal protection act prohibits killing animals in inhumane ways”, it was further explained.
In the case of trapping the cats, have the cats neutered at a local vet and returning them to their home at the factory has a positive spin-off. The cat would continue to fend the premises as its territory and no cats from outside come in to join the family on the premises.
“Trap-Neuter-Return is a method of capturing, sterilising and then returning the cats back to where they have been captured. If the animal is badly injured or sick, it is humanely euthanized.
The National Council of SPCA’s says: “The most effective and humane method is to reduce the numbers and control future breeding by trapping, sterilising and returning a stable group to the site, able to defend its territory against other cats.”
And the Humane Society says: “These programs have shown evidence of stabilizing cat numbers that eventually dwindle to zero as the cats naturally pass away.”
Neutering or spaying will reduce the cat population in the long-term. As the cats stay in the area, they prevent new cats from moving in. If a new cat does move in, it will also be sterilized. Trap-Neuter-Release there-fore creates a healthy cat population which will slowly decrease.
In Swakopmund a huge feral cat colony of 250 animals has been reduced to about 50 within a couple of years.
About Have A Heart Walvis Bay: this is a non-profit welfare organisation (part of the national and inter-national movement Have-A-Heart which spays and neuters, deworms and inoculates dogs and cats of the poor community. Have A Heart Namibia is registered under non – profit number 21/2014/0378. From the very start of HAH, there has been a great demand for their services, illustrating the great interest in humanely reducing the stray population all over Namibia.
Support from the Community and the Municipality: Have a Heart Walvis Bay has full support from the Walvis Bay community, the Municipality and Walvis Bay’s veterinarians.
We are also very happy that we do cooperate with Walvis Bay SPCA.
The Procedure and Costs: We would love to discuss the procedure and the cost involved in a personal meeting with you. It depends on how many cats you have on your premises and who can do the trapping.
We closely cooperate with Southern Cross Vet Clinic. They have certain dates on which the operations can be done. Appointments must be made beforehand. They only charge the absolute minimum for helping Have-A-Heart.
This is the procedure:
∙ We provide trap cages with which the cats can be caught without hurting them.
∙ We make an appointment with the vet on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday (these are the only days when they do operations).
∙ On the evening before the vet appointment (Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday) the trap can be positioned in a safe and quiet place where the public has no access.
∙ The trap is reliably con-trolled in the morning (Monday, Wednesday or Friday) latest at 7 am.
The trapped cats are taken directly to the vet. They must be at the vet at 7.30 am.
The cats can be picked up from the vet at about 2 pm on the same day.
In the evening after the operation the cats are released back to where they come from. The cats must be fully awake before being released. The area where they are re-leased must be safe and must offer space to hide.
We would like to thank you for considering our offer and becoming part of the solution. You can also visit our website or our Facebook page for more information.

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