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    Israel to launch cat spaying programme to counter stray cat issue

    NewsTuesday 29 October 2013
    The Agriculture Ministry in Israel is launching a NIS 4.5 million campaign to spay and neuter approximately 45,000 stray cats in cooperation with local authorities. 
    The main aim of the programme is to improve the quality of life in the city for both humans and felines. 
    The programme will enable municipalities to perform surgical sterilisation of their feral street cats, which will help to reduce the suffering of cats while reducing the rate at which they are spreading. The large numbers of stray cats in Israel has become an environmental or health hazard according to the ministry. 
    In order to help cover the costs of sterilisations, hospitalisation and returning the cats to their areas of habitation, each local authority is able to receive up to NIS 200,000. 
    Dr Dganit Ben-Dov, chief animal welfare officer at the ministry’s Veterinary Services, is reported to have said: “As a result of a multitude of feeders and food offerings in the streets, stray cats have multiplied significantly.
    “On one hand, this is a severe problem of animal welfare, since street life results in cats suffering. On the other hand, in many cases, the cats become an environmental hazard, posing risk to food establishments, various institutions and hospitals.” 
    Dr Dganit Ben-Dov also stressed that baby kittens born from stray cats become the fiscal responsibility of the local authorities from day one, due to them being born on the streets, unlike puppies of abandoned dogs. 
    With the ministry funding, the local authorities will perform the sterilisations of a certain number of street cats over the age of four months by the end of May 2014. 
    Once they have been spayed, the cats must then go through a recovery period in a veterinary clinic of around 24 to 48 hours. Then, once they have spent their time in the clinic, the cats must then be released in the same spot in which they were found. 
    The clinics are also required to ensure that the cats have been vaccinated against rabies before they are returned to the streets. 
    Although, according to estimates, there are approximately 200 million stray cats worldwide, there is no precise data on the matter, the ministry noted.
    Research which has been conducted in Western countries has indicated that about 80% to 90% of domestic cats are sterilized, as opposed to only 2% of their stray counterparts. 
    Since 2009, the Agriculture Ministry began funding the sterilization of stray cats in local authorities, and between 2009 and 2012, more than NIS 10m. was used to spay and neuter more than 90,000 stray cats in dozens of municipalities, the ministry said.
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