Animal welfare volunteers anticipate the number of complaints to rise as more cats are abandoned by their owners over the summer. Amy Leang / The National
Animal welfare volunteers anticipate the number of complaints to rise as more cats are abandoned by their owners over the summer. Amy Leang / The National

Stray cats are the most common complaint in Dubai

Stray cats have topped a list of the three most common complaints received by Dubai Municipality during the first half of the year.
Obstruction of sewage networks and removal of waste were the second and third most reported issues.
Animal welfare volunteers said more stray cats are expected on the streets over the summer as residents leave pets unattended when travelling.
Neutering is the best method to deal with the problem of strays, said Dr Susan Aylott, founder the Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi, adding that the numbers were high in the capital as well. 
"People leaving for holidays adds to the problem because a lot more cats are being dumped. We are also finding kittens all over and we need to advocate sterilisation or we will be in the same situation every year," she said. 
Concern that the cats will be put down is one reason that residents do not take the strays to government centres.
"We are being contacted more and more by people about kittens that have been abandoned. They need to be fed, given water and sterilised," Dr Aylott said. 
"There is a reason they don't want to take their pets to the authorities because they are worried they will be put down so they prefer leaving them to chance than taking them to a shelter where they don't know what will happen to them."
Residents said they had seen many more strays in community areas since the school summer vacations began last month.
"There are usually only a few cats out for a stroll in the mornings and evenings on most days but of late in shaded areas near the lakes I see many more strays," said Evelyn Augustine, a resident of the Springs community.
"They seem well fed because cat lovers leave out food and water. But I wish people didn't abandon their pets when they go on vacation and made some arrangements for them."
During the same period last year, the Dubai Municipality said it had caught 314 cats in the first half of 2016 and received more than 3,000 calls about stray cats in the city. 
In previous years, officials have said that the veterinary section sterilises cats but those suffering from poor health conditions that were a threat to public health and safety were put to sleep.
Animal welfare groups appealed for vaccination and care of the animals instead of euthanasia.
Volunteers said more required to be done by authorities as part of regular Trap, Neuter and Return programmes in which male cats are neutered and the female cats are spayed.
"This city like many other cities has a stray cat population and it's a normal thing.
The main problem is that the municipality does not have a proactive trap release and neuter programme but a reactive one," said Debbie Lawson, an animal welfare volunteer explaining that the department traps stray cats only after they receive complaints about the animals from nearby homes.
"We've been doing their work for decades. In community areas there are networks of people who trap, neuter and release. We and hundreds of other people spend money from their own pockets to sterilise the cats. Like any other civilised city, we should have a proactive population control for strays to deal with the problem in a proper way."
The municipality also said that the three main queries received in the first half of the year related to housing fees, occupational health cards and rental information.

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