OVER recent weeks there have been reports of the poisoning of stray and feral cats in and around the Los Dolses CC area of Villamartin.
The latest report was from the area where the car park at the rear of Super Valu abuts the adjoining garden centre.
In the past there had been a problem with the number of animals at this particular location, that is until well meaning but mindless individuals exacerbated the problem by leaving food and bedding materials and even spreading cat litter over a small grassed area adjacent to the road and school, prompting the authorities to take action.
The majority of the cats disappeared overnight, and suffered an unknown fate.
Recently a few cats had returned, probably no more than half a dozen according to local observers, including a small litter of three kittens and these appear not to have been a problem in the now tidy area.
One of the kittens is known to have been caught and given a home by a local resident, but then on July 27 the body of another of the youngsters was found, apparently poisoned, with the remaining cats having disappeared presumably suffering the same fate.
This all followed an incident a few weeks ago when a large litter of eight kittens appeared in a different foliated location at the centre.
The parent cats were well known to many people who frequented the cafe’s and bars, and were very tame and friendly. Four of the kittens were taken off the street at an early stage and taken to good homes, with a fifth destined for the same. A lady who had intended taking in the fifth kitten arrived too late however, as she was informed that the remaining kittens along with the adult cats had all been poisoned overnight and several tiny bodies had been found.
One local business owner commented that, although it might be understandable that strays were viewed as a problem by some of the other establishments, particularly where food was sold, the use of poisons is simply not acceptable, and in any case is illegal.
Another owner, incensed at the use of dangerous chemicals, pointed out that many dog owners walk their pets in the vicinity and any of these could pick up pieces of poisoned food, and why if it was such a problem, had those concerned simply not picked up the phone and called one of the many cat rescue centres.
She also pointed out that sick cats tend to find an inaccessible place to die, and this in itself constituted a health hazard. A third disgusted businessman told me that he had his suspicions as to who was responsible for these cruel and heartless acts, and would not hesitate to report the perpetrators to the authorities if he could prove his suspicions.
Another local female resident with two young children was horrified when she learned that the kittens her daughters had been stroking only hours before, had been found dead. “What if my children had touched the poisoned food, how dare these people act in such a cavalier and cruel way” she told me. “It’s because of selfish and unthinking owners returning home that these poor creatures are dumped on the street in the first place. They deserve better”.
The strong feeling in Los Dolses seems to be that although scavenging cats can be a problem, other solutions must be sought without taking the callous and illegal route of mass poisoning.
The last word goes to a local resident who frequents the centre every day, who said: “Some of the local businesses here don’t help the situation, because there seems to be little effort to keep parts of the centre clean and tidy with some areas an absolute disgrace with discarded food and wrappers left on the walkways for days at a time.
“The lids to the rubbish bins across the road are left open which gives easy access to cats, and is pure laziness on behalf of the business users. I know for a fact that one or two of the residents here are prepared to have the female cats neutered at their own expense before releasing them back on the street.
“But what’s the point if some irresponsible idiot then comes along and takes the law into his own hands?”