Categories: volunteers

Brazil’s Cat Island

Brazil’s Cat Island. Screenshot.

The cats of Brazil’s Cat Island need help because the coronavirus pandemic has left them supported to a much lower level than before. Tourists who fed the cats don’t travel to the island anymore due to coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions. It is believed that the colony of semi-domesticated stray cats on this small island was founded by a couple who lived there with cats a decade ago. They left the island and left their cats behind. They were unsterilized and they mated. Other cats there have been abandoned by people. It seems that it has become a dumping ground for unwanted cats.

It is called Furtada Island (Google Maps can’t find it). It is 20 minutes by boat from Mangaratiba.

Sometimes videos such as this one stop working for various reasons beyond my control. If that has happened I am sorry.

Fishermen have also helped to feed the cats in the past. Residents on the mainland are aware of the approximate 250 cats that live there. Some of them help as you can see in the video. They have set up dry cat food feeding stations but there appears to be a lack of water from time to time because there are no water springs on the island. It appears that they rely on water provided by volunteers visiting the island and I suppose rain which pools out in the rocks. Ironically it looks almost like an idyllic environment for stray cats but it simply isn’t.

Some cats are starving to death and it is sad to report that the cats have resorted to cannibalism which was reported by fishermen. Volunteers make weekly trips to top up the food and water dispensers. Apparently it is a crime to abandon cats on the island but it doesn’t stop it happening (through lack of enforcement it seems).

The cats are preyed upon by lizards who attack kittens and there are pit vipers on the island which are obviously a hazard to the cats. It is reported that some cats are injured when they are abandon by being thrown onto the rocks of the island. Volunteers do their best to bring injured cats to the mainland for veterinary treatment and they try to find adopters.

Comment: what is happening on this island is not that different to what happens in many other places but it just happens to be an island which makes it less accessible. Abandoning unsterilized cats leads to a colony and they become feral. And when people see feral or stray cats in an area they abandon their cats in the same place believing that they will be fed by volunteers. This is because volunteers often help support feral cat colonies under TNR programs. Abandoned cats are an attractant to further abandonments. The good guys, the volunteers, try and resolve the problem but against the odds.

Clearly, the only real solution is to remove all the cats from the island and bring them to the mainland. This will require the involvement of the local government and more volunteers. They should all be treated by veterinarians. Those that are untreatable should be euthanised. The remainder who are healthy and socialised should be adopted out via animal charities. These cats shouldn’t be on an island like this.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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