The right for feral cats to live in Iceland would be recognised for the first time if a change in the regulation on pet welfare passes, Vísir reports. Áslaug Eyfjörð, vice-chairperson of the animal welfare organisation Villikettir, has praised the bill.
“This will make the association’s work very easy, but it will have the effect that all feral cats will be neutered,” she said, adding that Villikettir will work with a policy of trap-neuter-release (TNR).
Nearly 360 memoranda were submitted to the government offices’ legislative drafts centre on the changes to the regulations on animal welfare, where organisations which aim to improve the welfare of stray cats are permitted to tag strays as having been spayed or neutered by clipping a part of their ears.
Áslaug implied that earmarking the cats in this way is a necessary evil. “We have taken in cats and neutered them, but since they have not been earmarked, it has been difficult because we have not been able to recognise them,” she said.
“It’s bad to disturb the cats by trapping them and checking if they have been neutered. Our goal is to reduce the number of feral cats, and this has been the case since this rule has been applied abroad.” These organisations are also allowed to keep feral cats in their custody for a short period of time without being considered pet owners before releasing them.
At this time, cats are often captured and killed in many municipalities, according to Áslaug. “We do not consider this acceptable, and we, together with the other animal protection organisations, have been fighting this for the last six years,” she said. “Stray cats need their rights. They have been in the country for centuries, and in the past supported households by hunting rats and mice.” Today, a big concern amongst animal enthusiasts is cats who catch birds. Áslaug says that this can be prevented if cat owners give their feline companions enough food and attention.
She added that Villikettir wants to prevent unnecessary cat deaths, and offer them food and shelter. “There are many stray cat shelters in the capital area, for example, and many volunteers provide shelter and food.” Áslaug herself often provides shelter to feral cats and is currently sheltering 14 cats. “I mainly take in the feral female cats and get newborn kittens used to being around humans,” she said. “Cats are so calming and nice. You listen to them purr and go into your Zen zone.”
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