Neuter stray cats, don't kill them, say activists
Group urges humane policy for feral felines
Animal rights activists have expressed anger at the growing number of stray cats being destroyed and say the government should sterilise them instead.
They say cats are less fortunate than dogs because there is no microchip system to help trace their owners.
'Under the present government policy, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department destroys most of the feral cats they catch,' said David Wong Kai-yan, convenor of Animal Earth. 'The department will keep the cat for four days and they will destroy it if no one comes to claim it.'
Jennie Fung, of Hong Kong No Kill City Forum, said a policy of trap, neuter and release had proved effective elsewhere, but the government was not interested.
'By counting the numbers destroyed, they say killing is an effective method,' she said. 'But when we look at the number of feral cats left, we know it is not the case.'
The department said cat-capture operations were mounted only when complaints had been received from the public about a stray cat problem.
It said captured felines were kept in animal management centres for four days to allow owners, if any, to claim them back.
Efforts were made to find new homes for healthy, pleasant-natured cats and the rest of them were humanely killed.
But Ms Fung said: 'There are about 20,000 feral animals being euthanised each year; only 5 per cent are lucky enough to be rehomed.'
Since August 2000, after receiving the department's approval, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has been operating a programme aimed at saving the lives of homeless cats.
The department also issued licences to carers to use traps, said the SPCA.
Under the Cat Colony Care Programme, the SPCA carers trap, neuter and return stray cats to the location where they were found.
The carers also are responsible for providing the cats with food and water.
The department has agreed not to conduct capture operations within the programme's zones.
'Feral cats are taken care of by volunteer carers,' said Mr Wong, who also is one of the volunteers under the programme.
'These cats are taken to the SPCA centre for desexing and to be microchipped. After that, they are returned to where they were trapped to live out the rest of their natural lives.
'The very basic but ultimate concept behind this scheme is that animals have their basic right to live and we, as human beings, have no right to destroy them.'
Ms Fung said: 'Despite the government approving the SPCA to run the programme and issuing licences to carers for using traps, the programme is run by volunteers.
'Also, the AFCD still adopts killing as its resort to reduce the number of cats, which is in fact not effective.
'I think this is not the best way and the trap, neuter and return policy should be more widely promoted in order to really solve the problem.'
Jennie Fung, of Hong Kong No Kill City Forum, says the proportion of feral animals killed after being caught by the government is 95%
The number of days a stray cat is kept before being put down: 4