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Famalicão makes communal space for stray cats

Famalicão makes communal space for stray cats

The city relies on volunteers to maintain the so-called ‘cat colonies’

The Portuguese city of Famalicão has decided to solve its stray cat problem by going beyond simply sterilizing the animals and letting them go on the street. The answer is the so-called ‘cat colony’, the first of which was created at the Praça Madalena Fonseca and counts with about a dozen cats.

City authorities argue that this is a better, and more humane, approach and they plan to replicate it on the whole territory of the municipality. The local animal collection centre and volunteers assist the City Council in carrying out this project.

‘Capture, sterilize and return’ is the motto of the cat colonies

The Famalicão administration reminds the residents that even stray cats are important for the community as they have their purpose, namely the control of rats and other pests. ‘Capture, sterilize and return’ is the motto of the cat colonies, however, we need to clarify that the ‘return’ here does not mean a return to the street and unsupervised living.

It means that people working with stray animals understand the particular attachment that cats have to the territories they inhabit. In that sense, the creation of a colony is the creation of a home for the felines – one that is located outside of a human household.

In the case of the Praça Madalena Fonseca colony, four cats have already gone through the process, and at the moment four volunteers are acting as caregivers. They feed the animals and take care of the spaces.

"This is a very effective process in the management of the stray cat population, which will certainly contribute to the reduction of several problems associated with reproduction, noise and unhealthy spots," explained the Animal Defense councilor of the city, Pedro Sena.

However, he also added that for the process to work “it is very important that the surrounding community collaborates and respects the cat colonies, namely by not placing food in the vicinity, nor removing the cats from the colonies”.

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