Abandoned cats swamp Lingnan volunteers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am


A plea has gone out to pet owners to stop dumping their cats at Lingnan University in Tuen Mun, where volunteers are struggling to take care of more than 100 of them.

Domestic cats do not have the skills to survive outdoors or fight for a place in a colony, volunteer Bill To said. Some have been found dead or with serious injury or illness.

'They don't know how to look for food, and strays that live there fight against any newcomers,' To said in comments circulating on Facebook.

The university campus has long been home to large gangs of stray cats and their kittens. Four volunteers - existing and former staff members - feed them regularly, neuter the kittens and take sick cats to veterinarians. They pay for all this out of their own pockets.

It has never been an easy life for the cats at Lingnan, but the living conditions are deteriorating as more end up there because of irresponsible owners. The volunteers said about 10 that were obviously domesticated were abandoned during the Lunar New Year, including three long-haired cats.

Spring was a peak period for dumping pets, as the animals enter the mating season but their owners were unwilling to neuter them, volunteer Ding Cheung said.

'People wrongly think Lingnan is a cat paradise,' she said. 'In reality, competition for food is fierce. Many fall ill or die from inflammation of wounds resulting from fights.'

The few volunteers, who had no support from any established animal welfare organisation, barely had sufficient resources to deal with the growing cat population, To said.

The real burden was medical treatment, Cheung said. New cats need to be neutered and vaccinated, but each case costs hundreds of dollars. They may also need ultrasound scans or medicine for chronic illnesses. Surgery to remove decayed teeth requires HK$4,000, Cheung said.

She has taken home 19 cats, including the sick and the handicapped. 'I've spent as much [on cats] as the down payment for a new flat, but it's all a matter of choice. Living things are born to be equal. I'll try to save as many [animals] as I can.'