'Controlling population': Record number of stray cats caught in Flanders last year

'Controlling population': Record number of stray cats caught in Flanders last year
Stray kittens. Credit: Belga

A record number of stray cats were caught in Flanders last year as the region works to get the population of the animals under control.

A total of 15,380 stray cats were caught in Flanders, according to a survey of 252 towns and municipalities that was conducted on behalf of the region's Animal Minister, Ben Weyts. All but five local authorities took measures last year to tackle the stray cat problem.

"Never before have there been so many stary cats caught. With a well-considered approach we can keep the stray cat population under control and avoid unnecessary animal suffering," said Weyts. "Cities and municipalities are an ideal ally to make this happen."

In 76% of cases, the cats were sterilised and then rehomed or adopted, while about a thousand cats were euthanised for medical reasons. Shelters are provided in 172 municipalities. Just two municipalities in the region (Bever and Sint-Genesius-Rode) do not yet have a specific contact point where residents can report stray cats.

Local responsibility

In Flanders, local authorities are in charge of the care of all stray and lost animals in their municipality or city. The average budget that a municipality invests in the stray cat policy has increased by almost 14%, from €6,600 in 2020 to €7,500 in 2021.

In 2018, Weyts decided that every municipality should draw up a thought-out and efficient stray cat plan to tackle the growing population.

As part of this initiative, every cat born after 31 August 2014 must be spayed or neutered no later than five months of age. Since November 2017, there is also an identification and registration requirement for cats.

Weyts regularly questions local authorities about their stray cat policy to ensure these rules are being followed.

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