Marie Wagner, in her letter entitled Feeding Of Stray Cats Gets Out Of Hand, complains about a man who is feeding stray cats in an area of Swieqi not far from where she lives. Since I too feed homeless cats, I felt it my duty to balance things out by clarifying a few points that Ms Wagner may not be aware of.
First of all, the man she spoke about is David Agius, a respected member of the community whose only crime seems to be that, like myself, he cannot close his eyes to the suffering of others including animals, and he does something about it.
People like us (cat feeders) are these days called colony caretakers and we do not go around in a clandestine way. Most of us are very busy people, some with health issues but who still find time for God’s creatures. Our function is not only to feed but we also form part of a national trap, neuter and release programme which is funded by several organisations, including the state which incidentally has just inaugurated a hospital that caters primarily for stray animals.
Now I ask Ms Wagner, what sense would there be for the state to pay for this programme if we are then going to starve these animals to death as would seem to be her wish?
Apart from all this we also take the heartbreaking decision of removing very sick cats from the colony which are then put to sleep humanely if no cure is possible. We even remove dead cats and this is done in order to keep the other cats and the area disease free. Is this not a service in itself? We invest in good quality food which does not attract flies and does not smell and we do clean up the area, if only for the sake of the cats themselves.
The only problem is that there are some kind souls who think they are being helpful by visiting our feeding stations with leftover scraps that are quite unsuitable for cats. There is nothing illegal about feeding near the street since that’s were these poor cats have been forced to live.
People like us have homes full of animals which we took in to appease people like Ms Wagner but we just cannot and will not turn our backs on those left behind, some still wearing the pretty little collars that their owners bought them before the novelty wore off and they kicked them out.
We will go on doing what we are doing. Behind these homeless animals and all over Malta there is an ever growing army of docile but dedicated people ready to defend the rights of these creatures so my advice to Ms Wagner is that she tries to fit into the big picture and leave Mr Agius and the innocent cats alone.