Over the years there has been a steady build up of feral cats at Queen’s Parade in Bangor. One cat feeder has been diligently feeding them over the years. There are now between 60 to 70 feral cats on the Queen’s Parade site.
Once the DSD took over the site last year I realised that the DSD were deadly serious about getting Queen’s Parade developed and up and running and they are going to push a fast deadline and clean up the site. They started with the Arts Pods and at the same time looked at sealing up the rest of the site. (Personally I still do not see the development starting for at least 3 more years.)
I received a pretty frantic phone call from the cat feeder that the DSD was going to bring in pest control to trap and euthanise the cats. As it turns out the pest control people were there to look at birds, mice and rats that may be on the site but it did not stop me creating merry hell to ensure that no pest control measures were taken on the cats. I managed to received assurances and guarantees that that was not going to happen.
Once that issue was resolved I asked for all the parties to meet. The Council, The DSD, The Animal Agencies and the cat feeder. We met on several occasions, both on site and in office meetings. After securing an agreement to fund the removal, re homing, treatment and spaying of the cats the small committee set a date to begin trapping, treating and re-homing. The stages would be this:
2) Checking to see if there were lactating mother’s, if so they would be released immediately to feed their young.
3) Other cats would be taken to a professional veterinarian and treated for any illnesses and IF there were obvious outward signs of any major diseases the cats would have to be euthanised.
4) Cats would NOT be routinely tested for HIV or FeLV as it can sit dormant in many cats.
5) Once the cats were treated they would then be taken to Cats Protection for domesticity tests.
6) Cats suitable for domestic homes would be re home as such and cats that failed any domesticity tests would be re homed in farms, stables or special feral cat sanctuaries, if any were available.
7) All homes would be inspected for suitability and periodic checks would be made on the cats that were re homed.
8) Trapping was and is being done by a dedicated expert.
9) The trapper is suitably experienced to examine for lactating mothers.
10) The vet is being paid for by the DSD as are all treatment costs. (Full blown HIV or FeLV cats have a very limited life span and a very limited quality of life. Also, full blown diseased cats are virtually impossible to home as the cost of treatments are astronomical and the suffering of the animal is very high.)
I know of one very special cat that is being cared for, in isolation, as he has the full blown disease and he looks very pitiful and cries out to be stroked but can only be stroked by people wearing gloves to avoid transferring the disease to the other cats in the sanctuary.
Cats Protection are experts on assessing cats for re homing.
Domesticated cats are much easier to home than ferals so the Cats Protection would be much happier if all of the cats passed the domesticity test. So far the trapping is going along well and I am very happy to report that no cats, to date, have shown signs of the major diseases. Once the site is cleared it will be thoroughly searched and then permanently sealed to stop any more cats taking up residence.
The DSD has been excellent throughput the whole process. They have worked with everyone concerned and have shown great compassion. As has the Council. Some people are requesting that the cats be trapped, neutered and returned.
That cannot happen. This must be done whilst under the ownership of the DSD. There are no guarantees that a commercial developer will care enough to make the same effort. Also, the number of health and safety complaints about cat faeces is growing. These complaints must be addressed by health and safety. The law states that they cannot turn a blind eye to these complaints.
Toxoplasmosis is a very common parasite in many cats faeces and can be very dangerous to pregnant mothers and their babies. Add to this the fact that there is a community garden being developed on the site, for children to work at, and it is clear that the issue must be addressed. Fortunately the health and safety have enough leeway to wait until the site is cleared of cats. As long as they see the issue being dealt with there is no urgency for them to take action. Note: From the CDC, Centre For Disease Control and Prevention.
Pregnant Mothers are most at risk……. “Accidentally swallowing the parasite through contact with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. This might happen by cleaning a cat’s litter box when the cat has shed Toxoplasma in its faeces touching or ingesting anything that has come into contact with cat faeces that contain Toxoplasma accidentally ingesting contaminated soil (e.g., not washing hands after gardening or eating unwashed fruits or vegetables from a garden)”