In 2003, Doha, Qatar, was home to an out of control stray cat population made up largely of ill and injured animals. But since taking on WSPA’s humane, holistic approach to population management, the animal welfare situation on the city streets looks very different.
Qatari authorities responded to public complaints about the numbers of strays by making ad hoc and inhumane attempts at population control. As well as causing animal suffering, this approach didn’t work – the remaining cats continued to breed and the use of inhumane methods continued.
In 2003, member society the Qatar Cat Coalition (QCC) asked WSPA to provide expert advice during a meeting with central government about the street cat problem.
Making the case for humanity
Supporting the QCC’s call for a change in policy towards the strays, WSPA staff presented an alternative strategy for population management: humanely trapping cats on the streets, having them assessed by a vet, spaying or neutering the healthy animals and returning them to their original location unable to increase the population further.
Government representatives then independently visited a WSPA-devised cat population project in Dubai to see for themselves how it worked.
Impressed by what they saw and with glowing recommendations from Dubai’s authorities about the difference humane stray management had made, WSPA and the QCC were asked to help set up a similar project in Doha.
WSPA delivered an enthusiastically received initial training course, covering:
- the theory and concepts of humane stray population management
- the legislation and regulations needed to back it up
- a discussion about how responsibility for the animals would be distributed
- an explanation of the ongoing commitment required.
In 2006 the authorities were ready for practical training and WSPA returned to Doha with a team including veterinary staff. Government and QCC workers were trained in safe, humane techniques for trapping, transporting and spaying or neutering cats. A WSPA veterinary consultant showed government vets how to assess those animals too ill to be returned to their original locations and humanely euthanize them if necessary.
Today: humane management in practice
In 2008, Doha has four government-run trapping teams, monitored by the QCC. The impact on the stray cat population has been huge – they are younger, healthier and fewer in number.
This project is evidence that a comprehensive, humane approach to stray population control is both kinder and most effective in addressing human complaints. Two years after the project commenced, the teams find only 5% of the cats they work with need to be euthanized; a massive reduction.
Find out more
WSPA works with member societies worldwide to improve the welfare of stray animals by promoting responsible pet ownership and helping authorities achieve lasting change.