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Is your neighbourhood cat-friendly?

Many Co-op societies aren't so co-operative when it comes to being pet-friendly. Moreover, people confess to have a bias towards dogs and find cats aloof, unfriendly and not capable of affection. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

The first time I heard the term ‘cat menace’, it didn’t sit right with me. There are three reasons for this. First, cats are shy creatures who’d rather not come close to you. Second, they aren’t pack animals or scavengers like monkeys or dogs. Rather, they are lone hunters who, in fact, help us check unwanted rodent population. Third, they are pretty territorial. So, if we were to neuter and vaccinate the cats in our neighbourhood, not only would their numbers not go up but they would also protect their turf and not let other cats in. Some people are unsympathetic to animals and don’t understand animal psychology. They don’t think twice about catching and relocating strays. This is like giving them a death sentence because cats or dogs of another territory will surely attack them. This has also been deemed illegal. People think that if you feed one cat, more will come. That’s not true. But cats do adapt to humans quickly, so if you get one dependent on you feeding it, it’s only ethical to adopt it. Having said that, it’s equally cruel to adopt one and keep it tied or abandon it after some time.

Recently, there was a disagreement between some pet lovers and the RWA committee of our society. For some reason, they’ve put a blanket ban on allowing pets in the premises since 2012. This is an unlawful clause in the lease deeds and thus, needs to be challenged. Since home owners cannot be coerced to leave, tenants usually bear the brunt. There was an informal meeting in which everyone expressed their views. Our request for letting us put up temporary shelters for strays (simple cardboard boxes with newspapers) in the extreme cold got ignored. It wouldn’t have cost anyone anything! Some people were concerned about cat poop. Well, they’re neat creatures who always groom and cover their poop with soil because they don’t want their prey or other predators to catch their smell. As for house cats, they use their own litter boxes and don’t trouble anyone. In fact, most owners like to keep them strictly indoors for their own safety. There’s traffic, other predators, mean people, toxic substances and diseases out there.

According to Azmat Amanullah, a lawyer, most RWAs adopt a very adversarial and cruel approach when it comes to animals in general and strays in particular. While doing so, they choose to ignore the laws in India with respect to stray and pet animals which have been clarified time and again by the Animal Welfare Board of India. Knowingly or unknowingly, they act in direct violation of the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

It’s one thing to care for animals and another to get into squabbles with your neighbours. I wouldn’t advise anyone to pit themselves against the other camp but to have patience and understanding. Instead, you can educate people about cat behaviour. One can trap and take a cat to the local vet for spaying/neutering. It can cost up to Rs 4000-6000 for the surgery and post-op care. Additionally, a rabies shot costs Rs 250. Finally, help the animals get adopted by spreading the word on social media and donate to shelters. There are many compassionate souls out there who would love to foster a rescued animal as well.

Please remember, we humans are the ones encroaching land for selfish reasons. Animals are not unnecessarily cruel or greedy. Unless provoked, they don’t harm you. In fact, they trust us easily and if cared for, shower us with love in return.

Illustration credit: @paperandsoup

Some online groups that educate people about care and upbringing of cats, and help with adoption:

Fans of Cats, Delhi

Cats Lovers, Delhi

Cat Adoption Delhi-NCR

Furrytude Delhi Pet Adoption

Also read:

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