“their situation is neglected, we must act”

Despite the mobilization of associations and some residents of Amiens, stray cats multiply in and around the city. Often sick, starving, abused, they try to survive on their own. To stop the phenomenon, residents propose sterilization campaigns and alert the municipality.

Aurélie Ducat is a volunteer at the Chipnoum association based in Corbie. She lives in Amiens, and it was in 2020 that she decided to join the association. “At that time I adopted a cat from Chipnoum and I realized that there were many kittens outside, strays, healthy or not. I wanted to help. But it’s a gear. We take care of more and more cats and we can’t get out of it. Today I have five cats in my apartment and four are in foster care. We spend a lot of money treating them and getting them sterilized. Economically, it will be an abyss.”

The association is financed by donations from individuals, but also by the charity sales they organize. Volunteers work in and around Amiens. The money collected helps foster families who collect cats for food and veterinary care. But since the Covid crisis, the situation has become worse. “For two years, efforts in the area have dropped significantly. The litter of kittens has multiplied in Amiens. Last summer, the phenomenon took on an unprecedented scale“, explains Aurélie Ducat.

The first breeding season for cats is in the spring, with the birth of the young in May. Then another in August with births in September. This explains the associations’ strong activity in the summer months. The SPA and the pounds are overwhelmed and the associations are overwhelmed with requests. “I asked Amiens Town Hall to organize sterilization campaigns, but I received no response. I feel like it’s not their priority. However, it does not cost much to draw up a concrete municipal budget. It would be for everyone’s well-being. The proliferation of cats causes nuisance, but also poses a traffic risk, not to mention animal welfare, which should also be taken into account.“, insists the volunteer.

Every day I find myself in front of the misery of these animals

This is also the observation of Mako, a resident of Amiens, who has just launched a petition about myopinions.com, For the care of stray cats near the city of Amiens. Far from wanting to create controversy, she wants to warn about the situation of cats in the capital of Picardy. “I did not understand why a micro-controversy was launched on the Courrier photo saying that I am attacking cats’ friends when I ask for the sterilization of stray cats“, explains Mako. This young Amiens has been looking after the cats in her neighborhood for 10 years. Currently she feeds about twenty of them.Every day I am faced with the misery of these animals. Many litters are born every week on the street, the mothers are often sick, one-eyed, the males are skinny. It is an unknown situation and I wanted it to be known“, says Mako. Faced with this catastrophic situation, she contacts Amiens town hall, who advises her to call the pound.”At the pound they told me they had no room for new cats and that the next ones would be euthanized. The Cat Protection Association replied that they could not intervene in this district, due to a lack of municipal authorization.“, she laments. The petition was launched at the end of July and achieved more than 2 000 signatures.

We would like to do much more, but technically it is complicated

Caroline Verlinde, chairman of the Amiens association Les Chahuttes

The town hall of Amiens finances ten sterilizations of cats per year, feral cats that are recovered on the streets by the association Les Chahuttes, an Amiens cat protection association. By municipal decree, it also allows volunteers to intervene in about ten neighborhoods a year to catch cats. It is a hatch system, located at the bottom of a cage. The door closes automatically when the cat places its paws on this hatch. The animal is then taken to the vet to be sterilized and identified. “We castrate between 20 and 30 feral cats a year, and we receive around 200 stray but sociable cats for adoption. In this case, the latter remain fortnight in isolation in our host families before their adoption.“, explains Caroline Verlinde, chairman of the Chahuttes association.

The association has 25 members, but only five host families. Too little to take care of all the stray cats in town. “We would like to do much more, but the problem is not so much financial as logistical. When we sterilize stray cats, we then place them in isolation for their recovery between 1 and 5 nights. But we don’t have enough space in a foster family, because it requires a completely isolated room to prevent the cat, if it is sick, from contaminating the other animals in the house. Technically, it is complicated” adds Caroline Verlinde. Feral cats are returned to the place where they were found after the sterilization operation. In some neighborhoods, residents feed them, but sometimes these animals are considered pests. According to the chairman of Chahuttes, they are useful in certain areas districts of Amiens.We see that when these feral cats are released, there are fewer rats and rabbits digging holes in the gardens. It creates a certain balance“.

The situation of the cats in Amiens is neglected

Impossible to determine the number of cats wandering the streets of Amiens. Abandoned, runaway or from a litter born on the street. They often hide in abandoned lots or gardens, sometimes in packs. “The situation of the cats in Amiens is neglected. Domestication causes cats to become dependent on humans. They cannot feed themselves. Ten sterilizations a year is ridiculous. When we see the number of kittens increasing, we must act“, explains Mako.

At Amiens town hall, Bruno Bienaimé, deputy mayor for Nature in the city and health, says he is aware of the problem, but limited by the rules. :”To sterilize a cat, it must be identified. We then go through the vet at the pound. But when they are not identified, nothing can be done. The Rural District Act is very strict.”

Some municipalities have found the solution. This is the case with Abbeville. In this town in the hinterland of the Somme, the town hall’s green brigade service has organized several campaigns for the identification and sterilization of stray cats every year for the past five years.

Thanks to a partnership entered into with the 30 million friends fund, the municipality receives grants for up to 50 % costs. 86 cats were caught, identified and sterilized this year at a total cost of £6 000 euros. “We had noticed that stray cats were multiplying in the city and the SPA was overwhelmed. We used the proposed convention of the 30 million friends fund to organize these campaigns. After sterilization and identification, feral cats are released back to their original capture sites and are owned by the foundation.”explains Marie-Noëlle Robin, head of the general secretariat of the town hall in Abbeville.

A valuable help that the town hall of Amiens was not aware of. “We have a global budget for animal issues in the municipality. If there is an additional solution, we will look into it.”says Bruno Bienaimé.

According to the opinion of friends of cats whom we asked, it is necessary to take the evil at the root. Identification of cats is mandatory in France to avoid abandonment and reinforce the responsibility of owners. But the checks are not carried out and many felines are still not identified. According to some associations, sterilization should be mandatory for all cats.

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