Fears feral cats may starve during coronavirus lockdown
That was the stark reality on the plight of feral cats during the Covid-19 lockdown described by advocate Andre Stokes, who, with advocate Damien Bond, secured a last-minute high court order on behalf of non-profit organisation, Cats of Durban, for feral cat colonies to still be fed during the 21-day lockdown period.
The feeding of feral cats falls under animal care in the essential services list.
Speaking to the Independent on Saturday yesterday, Stokes said: “I don’t sleep at night. All the buildings, hotels and shops which have closed and where gates have been locked, the feral cats have been closed in and they can’t get out. There are hundreds of cats in Durban who have been locked in and those cats are going to starve.”
Stokes, who also owns the Nine Lives Sanctuary for cats in Waterfall, went to a locked shop premises one night this week, where he knew of a friendly feral cat.
“I wanted to try to persuade the guard to open up shop so I could feed the cat, but he wouldn’t listen, so I ended up buying the cat,” said Stokes.
But other cats will not be so lucky.
“There are hundreds of cats trapped in buildings which I know of, so there must be more,” said Stokes, adding that one passage in central Durban has two locked gates, preventing him from even pushing food through the gate.
“I can see the cats on the other side of the gates and they can see me,” he said.
Meanwhile Cats of Durban volunteer, Rodney Claassens, was out in the industrial Bayhead area yesterday morning.
Claassens has been feeding an estimated 80 cats this week, which is double the number he normally feeds.
“I have also been feeding cats in the Addington area of South Beach, as well as around the Bayhead area,” he said. Claassens pays for all the cat food out of his own pocket and is often involved in rescuing cats and kittens.
On Thursday, he travelled more than 400km around Durban, which apart from feeding, included a call from a veterinary clinic where a cat had leapt over an electric fence and was hiding in the next door property. Then it was on to Verulam, where he rescued four kittens.
On another recent kitten rescue, he was called from work and had to tuck the tiny cat into his backpack as he was travelling on his motorbike.
“The public needs to understand that cats are crucial for vermin control and these feral cat colonies keep rats under control for companies around Durban.”
Claassens, who is a cat owner, said he started volunteering to help with feral cats about two years ago.
“I started feeding a feral cat and if I saw a feral cat, I would stop to feed it and then I got more and more involved.
“Now I assist with trapping feral cats all over Durban and help companies and private home owners to manage a feral colony so it doesn’t grow any further.”
Cats of Durban offers a mobile clinic which can assist in the management of feral colonies, including trapping, sterilising and rabies control.The Independent on Saturday