MUMBAI, INDIA-NEWS AND COMMENT: The police based at Matunga Police Station have told the senior citizens who use a beautiful park called Maheshwari Udyan that they cannot have the feral cats in that park relocated out of the park. The senior citizens who use this park, which is under a flyover, say that the cats trip them up. In other words, they are a hazard to their health and they want them relocated.
The volunteers who feed the cats complained about this and the police have stepped in and said that relocating the cats away from the park is illegal. Comment: an interesting thought. I wonder if it is truly illegal. I can’t see being a crime so why are the police involved?
The plan was to relocate the cats with the help of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) formerly known as the Bombay Municipal Corporation. In essence this is the administrative body of Mumbai.
A group of 60 senior citizens are unhappy with the cats in what appears to be a very nice park. They wrote to the BMC about their problems with the cats. Apparently, their numbers have grown from around 5 to 35. The people who feed the cats say that the BMC have a responsibility to sterilise street cats and they are not discharging their responsibility.
The answer is to sterilise them and not relocate them. It appears that the police are supporting the volunteers who feed the cats. Comment: my understanding of the relocation of feral cat is that it is problematic in a number of ways. Firstly, if you relocate you leave a vacuum for new cats to move into that space and therefore it doesn’t work. Secondly, the relocated cats have been removed from their home range. They may return to what they consider to be their home i.e. the park, and they will certainly be discombobulated by being removed from their home. And what about the people living in the place to where the cats have been relocated? Might they complain too?
The police have told the BMC to give the feral cat feeders space in the park to feed the cats. The senior citizens who wrote to the BMC said that: “We are not against the feeding of cats but we are against the nuisance in the garden. While walking in the garden the cats keep crossing our paths, which scares us and we lose our balance and fall. We wanted to relocate the cats as their population has increased in the garden.”
Comment: This is a classic ‘feral cat problem’ between competing interests. There are those that consider the cats a nuisance and there are those who want to act humanely towards them. In the middle, in this instance, is the police acting as a referee who have sided with the feral cat feeders and in the background is the BMC, the corporation which runs Mumbai, which appears to have abdicated their responsibilities in not running TNR programs to ensure that the cats are sterilised and therefore do not procreate.
It is essential that the cats are sterilized. Not doing it has resulted in the increase in numbers. Also, people dump cats in the park which increases their numbers. The feral cats need better management and it should be an offence (it probably is) to abandon cats in the park or anywhere else as it is cruel. Perhaps the police should tackle that problem?
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