SPCA reluctantly drops desexing plan for Victoria Park cat colony

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 March, 2004, 12:00am

An animal protection group has received permission to trap and sterilise a colony of wild stray cats in Victoria Park, but has been told that the cats cannot return to the park.

Pauline Taylor, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said she could not move ahead with the project because it would not be feasible to put these cats up for adoption.

'Sadly, we have nowhere to take them after they're desexed,' she said.

'Nobody would take them into their home. They're wild animals. You can't touch them. They'll scratch, they'll pee.'

The original proposal called for trapping and sterilising the cats before the breeding season and then returning them to the park. Dr Taylor estimated there were between 100 and 150 wild cats in Victoria Park.

A spokeswoman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages public parks, said it was against 'proper management of public facilities' to allow the cats to stay on.

'Simply catching, desexing and returning the cats to Victoria Park will not address the nuisance and hygiene problems caused by the stray cats,' she said.

'It will, on the contrary, send the wrong message to additional irresponsible cat owners to desert their cats in the park and aggravate the situation. We consider that it is entirely unfair for the community to suffer the problems caused by irresponsible cat owners.'

Dr Taylor has sent another request to the department to reconsider the cats' return to the park. 'We really do think that they should seriously consider why they should listen to organisations like ours,' she said.

Dr Taylor said some of the cats had probably already had kittens. The kitten season usually starts around March and continues for two to three months, she added.

Each female cat could give birth to three to six kittens at a time. This means that about 200 kittens could be born in Victoria Park if the cats were not sterilised immediately, Dr Taylor said. It could lead to a total of more than 300 cats in Victoria Park after the kitten season was over.

Maddi Conway, spokeswoman for Save Stray Cats which was formed last year to care for the cats in Victoria Park, said having the cats return to the park was the only way the group could continue to care for the cats.

'It's going to create the same problems if we bring the cats elsewhere,' she said. 'The government is only looking at a short-term solution to the problem. They don't care about the quality of life of the cats.'

Her group of six members has been feeding the cats every night. It has also received about 3,700 signatures in support of the project to bring back the cats after sterilisation. Ms Conway estimated there are more than 20 cat carers in Victoria Park.