Sunday, 4 December 2005

Lock up your cats!

Those of you reading this from the US will think that keeping indoor cats is the right and probably only thing to do anyway. On this island, if you live in a town, then it is also, because there are always people who will poison cats they feel are a nuisance. Not just locals either, I know of British people on residential communities doing so and talking as if this is an acceptable action.

It may be unintentional, but in most rural areas and on banana plantations there are almost always chemicals in use that kill cats. Let's not get into what it is doing to the environment.

Both of those are reasons I moved to this area, which is inside the Teno Rural Park, where poisons are "banned". Well, we all know rules are made to be broken: there's less of them used anyway and, therefore, up to now, my cats have been relatively safe.

The attitude to cats in the Canary Islands seems to be that they are vermin. Occasionally, they are thought useful for keeping down the mice, but that is the best consideration they are likely to get.

Dogs don't get a better deal, most often kept on very short chains and even shorter rations, outside in all weathers, as "guard dogs".

As I have mentioned before, people do not even think of neutering and spaying here. This is as a result of ignorance and meanness, pure and simple. They simply will not pay to do it. It isn't that Catholic vets won't do it, because they will and have done all of mine.

What the Island Council fails to realize is that it is impossible to cull all of them and that what will now happen is that those that are left (unfixed) will merely multiply faster to refill the space available.

My own fear is that this is in our district, is inside the Teno Rural Park and is only a short hop over the mountains from us. Collars to identify an owned cat might help, but I wouldn't bank on it (mine won't keep them on anyway.)

So it was potentially worrying to read that The Tenerife Island Council has ‘withdrawn’ (the euphemism ‘withdrawn’ used here, means that the cats have been removed and killed) nearly forty cats from the ancient mountain village of Masca. The animals had all become adapted to living perfectly well in the wild. Some were originally domestic animals abandoned by their charming human owners, while others were actually born in a savage condition. Their crime is that have to eat to live, and the daily diet tends to be giant lizards and birds that are, according to the Cabildo ‘threatened with extinction’.

Thirty-five ‘wild’ cats taken from the Barranco de Masca
Cruel cull in the “Catskill” Barranco

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