Warszawa ( mapka )
ul. Chrzanowskiego 13
tel.: 535 870 225

Urban cats

Why don't we say "free-living", "wild", "cellar" cats? We call them so for a purpose. We want to emphasize that they constitute the common property and responsibility of all Warsaw citizens and they must be treated as a permanent and desirable component of the urban landscape. In the legal regulations the term "free-living" is a synonym for wild animals, meaning animals that have the most prosperous life in its natural environment - meaning far away from people. Urban cats, even if not tame, are not wild animals. The whole species of "the domestic cat" stands for domestic animals. Those straying often tend to be untamed and many of them should remain in this state for the benefit of themselves and the environment.

Their straying should be perceived differently than that of dogs. The latter, as herd animals, should be taken to somebody's house. They can also survive in a shelter for homeless animals. For the majority of urban cats, especially adults and untamed, this is not a solution. It is proved by the cats' high mortality rate in shelters. These cats require particular care in a place they are living in, with respect for a distance to humans. This is why the fate of those animals is more dependent on the people than any specific municipal services and facilities.

There is no single routine treatment of urban cats. Most of them are adult cats that have never been domesticated and are not likely to ever be. More and more often there are individuals among them that had been raised at home and then thrown out for some reason. Those cats still should find a new home. Kittens, generally, can be tamed. There is also a number of the sick and crippled animals that require full care regardless their degree of domestication.

Urban cats in Warsaw

It is estimated that Warsaw is inhabited by tens of thousands of free-living cats. The majority of them behave like wild animals - they avoid contacts with humans, are mistrustful, and when attempting to get closer to them, they react either with escaping or aggression. Their behaviour usually is caused by the lack of domestication and by living in the wild for many generations. Historically, they have become domesticated animals; they do remain in the surrounding of man and need human help, but the lack of tameness means that they do not want to live indoor. Probably, it would be correct to describe them as wild domestic cats, that can not be moved to homely environments any more.

On the other hand, an unknown but certainly large number of tamed cats that live on streets, in basements or on parcels, could easily become household pets. For these cats, the best solution would be to provide them with loving and responsible homes.

The number of urban cats - both wild and domesticated, is constantly growing. As a result - it is more difficult for them to find a safe place and food. For this reason, it is necessary to take steps that will prevent the further growth of the cat population, improve the living conditions of already existing cat colonies and - in the longer perspective - reduce their suffering.

A small body size and a low physical strength make it obvious that the cats as a species manage to survive thanks to their cleverness and well developed process of reproduction. Early puberty, provoked estrus and the possibility to become pregnant (even when feeding the previous litter) enables one pair of cats to bring a dozen kittens into the world that after about six months can start to reproduce. Assuming, that a female cat gives birth twice a year to a total of 10 kittens, of which 5 are females, within one year the cat population can theoretically increase by 35 cats thanks to one female cat. And this happens only if we take into account the female cat since the number of kittens fathered at the same time by one male is difficult to estimate.

Of course, not all kittens survive but those who do, contribute to the sustainable increase of their population. Factors such as: the poor living conditions, the lack of food or the lack of shelter do not limit their reproduction. These animals continue to multiply, increase homelessness of its own species and, simultaneously, reduce the available places where they can safely stay. Furthermore, the excessive number of cats promotes spread of diseases that can easily move from one cat to another, and contributes to the decrease of accessible food.

The only way to strengthen the cat population, reduce their suffering and limit conflicts with residents, is to reduce their growth in numbers in cities. At present, the only effective and humane method is the spaying- or neutering treatment, which significantly reduces the number of cats, improves their fitness and health and makes odour disappear. For these solutions, there are no effective alternative.

Read also:

ARGOS Foundation for Animals, 04-886 Warszawa, Garncarska 37A st., KRS: 0000286138
+48 22 615 52 82 | e-mail: fundacja@argos.org.pl | http://www.argos.org.pl
bank account: SWIFT: PKOPPLPW PL 47 1240 6133 1111 0000 4808 5915
The KOTERIA neutering clinic for feral cats in Warsaw, Chrzanowskiego 13 st., Warszawa, +48 535 870 225
Manager of KOTERIA Anna Wypych: tel. 603 651 044 | Chief vet Iwona Kłucińska-Petschl tel. + 48 502 642 932