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Program helps control stray cat population

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-21 07:28

Program helps control stray cat population 

Coralie Debras checks on a stray cat in her community in Shanghai's Pudong New District.Photos By Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Coralie Debras, a resident of Shanghai for the past 13 years, said she is relieved to have not found any pregnant cats in her community during this year's mating season.

Debras, 46, said it is a result of the trap-neuter-return method that she helped implement four years ago, which aims to control the population of stray cats.

"It has become less noisy at night and the streets are cleaner, while the number of complaints about stray cats that the residential committee received this year is half that of last year," said Debras, a French citizen living in a high-end residential community in Pudong New District's Lujiazui financial area.

Her idea to introduce the TNR method was born five years ago when she discovered that cats in her community were dying because residents who were fed up with them fighting, making a mess of garbage and being noisy during mating season began poisoning their food.

"I even saw some cats with traps attached to their feet. I understood people's frustrations, but felt there was a better way to address the situation" said Debras, who is a stay-at-home mother and a child care and animal welfare volunteer.

She put forward her TNR proposal, a method of humanely trapping stray cats, neutering them and then returning them to the location where they were found.

"It helps control the cat population, and following the veterinary procedure, the cats are less aggressive and noisy," she said.

While TNR is a popular way to control stray cat populations in the West, where governments provide financial support for professional associations to conduct such operations, it's a relatively new concept in China.

Debras made brochures for residents in her community, detailing the initiative in French, English and Chinese.

"Reproduction is an instinctive act, which the animals cannot control. Most cats fight or become infected with diseases during mating season. TNR is a humane and effective way to enable them to live in the community without disturbing residents," she said.

Neutering costs about 200 yuan ($30) for a male cat and 400 yuan for a female, with an average of 20 treated each year.

At first, Debras relied on donations, but she now hosts an annual flea market in the community to raise money for neutering.

"We held this year's event in mid-May and raised 8,000 yuan. As residents witness the changes, they show more support," she said.

Two years ago, she became a member of the residential committee of her community, where 40 percent of residents are expats.

She has since established a community pet club for residents to share their experiences of how to take care of or train pets and be responsible pet owners.

"We have also made a fixed feeding area for stray cats so that the environment remains clean and the cats stay healthy," she added.



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