Throughout the summer, the population of stray cats in the streets increases and Doha’s Cat Assistance Team are inundated with requests. Volunteer Carlotta Gelmetti gives us the lowdown on CAT’s activities.
Cat Assistance Team (CAT) was formed in Doha just over a year ago by Gill Shurey and Reem Mansour, as a volunteer group aiming to protect, assist and manage the growing cat population in Qatar.
Over this time, CAT has been able to help more than 230 cats through medical care and rehoming but right now, due to the increase in cat owners leaving during the summer, it is caring for more than 40 cats and kittens with some in foster care and some in the dedicated adoption room.
CAT is under-resourced and managed with the support of the community. As a result the organisation relies heavily on volunteers to assist with fostering, finding forever homes and holding fundraisers. And, naturally, the main outgoing payments are vet bills which can often add up to considerable amounts.
‘A day seldom goes by when we don’t have an emergency on our hands,’ says co-founder Gill. ‘We see everything from a dumped Persian with a gangrenous paw, which may need amputation, to a litter of orphaned, blind kittens.’
Suffice to say, this is one organisation that needs more people to volunteer and donate expertise, as well as support for dedicated fundraisers as a community on a regular basis. As a selfless volunteer, it’s easy for you to make a huge difference with minimal effort, says co-founder Reem. ‘[Volunteer efforts] can be as little as two hours a month of providing transport to vet appointments. You can also attend one of our fundraising events throughout the year such as our Zumbathons and quiz nights. But without the help and ongoing support of the community, we can’t survive.’
Strays in Qatar
Wherever you go in Qatar, you are never far from a stray cat. While they tend to curb the mice and rat population, many street cats, sadly, are not born on the streets. Particularly during the summer, when people leave for holiday or for good, pets are simply dumped outside. These cats are not street savvy and stand little to no chance of survival. They will be attacked by more dominant cats, killed by a car and unable to source food due to having been reliant on their home feed. Strays in Qatar is also constantly faced with the ever-changing landscape, fast moving cars and, of course, the extreme weather.
On top of all that, the male cats are territorial and if infected by FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), they will pass this on to other males through bites or infect females through procreation. Plus pregnant cats will have to put their bodies through enormous pressure, which will drastically reduce the life expectancy.
And yet, these street cats can be homed and often make wonderful pets. Just be sure you are ready.
Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR)
The only way to control the cat population and maintain healthy colonies is to trap, neuter and return. Cats are humanely trapped, evaluated, sterilised and vaccinated by the vet and returned to the same place of capture. TNR reduces the cat population considerably and prevents the spread of disease among the colonies.
Get in touch with CAT if you’re interested in helping, as it offers training to safely and humanely trap strays and manage your stray cat community.
Other ways to help this summer
• Every day leave a fresh bowl of water in a safe and shaded area, preferably with ice cubes. Cats will find it if you leave it somewhere.
• Don’t leave leftover fish and meat with no bones in your bin. Instead, place on open foil beneath the bin in the evening when cats scavenge.
• If you find newborns without their mother, chances are she is off looking for food. Do not move or touch them unless they are in imminent danger. Check on them often until the mother shows up which could be several hours later.
For more information and to offer your support please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.facebook.com/CatofQatar