FAROS News › Fewer Cats, More Rats 17/08/2008, 00:04

Last month we asked the question “Where have Symi’s cats gone?” and talked about the collapse in the number of “unowned” (feral) cats on the island. Many people have responded to the question, by telling us that they too have noticed that cat numbers are down and that rat numbers have risen in response. Several have said that this summer alone, they have seen more rats than in the past twenty years put together. The consensus opinion is that deliberate poisoning of the cats is the likely cause.

As well as talking with the people of Symi, we have also asked the opinion of the FAROS vets about the problem and if there was anything we could do. While people carry on the poisoning, the options are limited. Rat numbers increase because there are fewer cats and when people put down rat poison, it kills even more cats, making the whole problem worse, not better. We ask everyone to not put down poison for rats where there is any chance at all that a cat can find it. Anyone deliberately poisoning cats must stop it immediately; the rats will thank you for getting rid of the cats, but no human should. It is an illegal activity in Greece, and a cruel and painful way to end a cat’s life. If you know of anyone killing cats please ask them to stop.

While poisoning is a major cause of the problem, indiscriminate neutering can be as damaging.

The decision to neuter cats that are owned or cared for should always be left with the animal’s carer. FAROS vets will continue to neuter cats so long as somebody who cares for them brings them into the clinic. However, FAROS does not support the policy of sending out groups of people with baskets to catch feral cats and for a visiting vet to perform a mass neutering operation while the cat population on Symi is undergoing the present crisis. This has happened in late summer for many years now, when a British vet has come to the island. It is the opinion of FAROS that it would be irresponsible for it to happen again this year; the cat population needs to be left alone to recover to some position of strength as it is now on a knife-edge, and could collapse entirely.

There may be some who would view this as a good thing, but the cats have been a vital part of Symi for decades, supporting the human population by keeping pest numbers down. It is vital that we realise that a healthy cat population can be an asset to the island and should be looked after all year round.

It may well take years before cat numbers rise sufficiently high to get the rats under control again, but it may never happen without an effort by the people of Symi. Poisoning and indiscriminate neutering should stop immediately.

(8) Comments

  1. Marianne said on 16/08/2008, 23:49

    ohh, I hope people understand putting poison out is no sollution

  2. Simon said on 17/08/2008, 00:00

    One would hope so marianne, but as with the recent dumping of puppy's in a bin bag shows, some have scant regard for the animals of symi

  3. Marianne said on 17/08/2008, 03:50

    as all of the world I'm afraid *sighs*
    When I grew up I lost two cats to rat-poison. Don't think this is common i Norway now... now they just dump their pets in bins and on parking lots when they don't wan't them anymore...makes me so angry!

  4. Christos said on 19/08/2008, 01:25

    I do hope that all this publicity (the article was also published in the August edition of the "News of Symi") will deter people from putting poison down and also deter the SAW, and their British vet who comes to Symi every autumn, from going ahead with their yearly mass-neutering-of-feral-cats visit this autumn.

  5. Marianne said on 19/08/2008, 01:44

    Yes, fingers crossed!

  6. lizzykitch said on 19/08/2008, 17:52

    Sounds very sensible to me xx

  7. Lucy said on 20/08/2008, 07:04

    The fact is that even a domesticated cat will hunt and kill mice and rats, even if they dont actually eat them, there must be cats. The history of cats is ineresting, they were brought to cities, or ended up in cities, and populated areas for this reason alone. They are essential on farms and in the olden days on ships and wot not... I love cats with all my heart and poisoning is completly unacceptable. I could say so much more........

  8. Will said on 26/08/2008, 19:19

    A healthy cat is generally a better ratter than an unhealthy one. The instinct to kill vermin isn't diminished if the cats are looked after. This is what we are hoping people realise; that the relationship between cats and humans is a mutually-beneficial one. The reason the cats were brought to Symi in the first place, to kill rats, still exists, and will do so long as the waste-management is so poor.

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Updated 17/08/2008, 00:04, 2614 hits