Are there cats in the Maldives?

In answering the question in the title, it is useful to know that there are about 1,200 Maldives islands of which 200 are inhabited. The biggest island is called Laamu Gan and it is connected to 3 nearby islands with an 18 km road. The name is officially ‘Republic of Maldives’.

The current population of the Maldives is around 540,000 people. There are no laws banning the importation of domestic cats. There is a ban on importing dogs.

Kuramathi, one of the islands of the Maldives
Kuramathi, one of the islands of the Maldives. Image: Tourist Board.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment written by visitors. It is a way visitors can contribute to animal welfare without much effort and no financial cost. Please comment. It helps this website too which at heart is about cat welfare.

There are some restrictions on importing cats into the country, but the Maldives does not quarantine cats provided they meet the requirements includes pet micro-chipping and vaccinations. A cat must be vaccinated for rabies and other diseases a minimum of 30 days and less than 12 months prior to entering the Maldives. Once in the Maldives with your cat a licensed veterinarian will complete a health certificate.

You have to have a tapeworm treatment administered by a licensed veterinarian or a test carried out which should be negative for Dirofilaria Immitis (heartworm). And within seven days of bringing your cat onto the island he or she should be treated for intestinal parasites. I would recommend researching this point further.

So down to answering the question in the title. It is likely, bearing in mind what I’ve said, that there will be domestic cats on at least a number of the Maldives islands particularly the biggest.

I don’t expect there to be large numbers and as some of the islands are small there will be no cats on them. They appear to be tourist islands only without many residents or no residents. We don’t have estimates on numbers but with 0.5m people there must be hundreds of domestic cats throughout the islands at least.

A person who visited the islands about 13 years ago said that there have been “two or three cats on every island that we have been to”. But, as expected, they keep out of the way and hide. This implies that they are no longer domestic cats.

I suspect that they might be abandoned domestic cats turned feral and survive on small mammals like mice which have been brought to the island by people.

The same person said that they were told that the cats’ presence helps to stabilise the guinea pig population on the islands. I suspect the guinea pigs were imported by people as pets and then became wild and procreated.

The native species of the Maldives include fruit bats, marine wildlife which you would expect and in terms of mammals there are very few, but they include the flying fox and a species of shrew. Rats are not native and have been introduced by people.

Other native species also include reptiles and amphibians including a species of lizard and a species of gecko. There are also birds which appear to be Eurasian migratory birds. There are some birds from the Indian subcontinent which are seasonal such as the frigate birds.

I’ve mentioned native species because it means that feral and domestic cats outside can prey on some of these animals to sustain themselves. I expect the authorities are unhappy about this.

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