Why stray cats can save our streets

 

  

Thousands of stray cats roam Durban’s streets, unwanted and untamed. They’ve learned to live off scraps of food, with no love to spare. As their numbers have increased, so has the animosity towards them. But there’s more to these colonies than life on the prowl. With a heart to help them, Niki Moore is managing the number of cats living a life of suffering and dispelling ignorance around their presence.

An unspayed cat can produce a litter from as young as three months, resulting in exponential population growth within a short time. The fight for territory and food becomes a nuisance to people, who aggravate the problem by refusing to sterilise them. Through a trap-neuter-release system, Moore is working alongside Cats of Durban to ensure that strays aren’t increasing in population. As feral cats cannot easily be domesticated, they are released back to their original environment. While they have learned to survive on their own, ignorance around their presence leads to abuse. It’s heartbreaking work, knowing that business and homeowners would rather the cats be put down.

Together with an enduring group of volunteers, she’s educating people on the role these cats play. Their natural hunting skills are a sustainable method of vermin control, reducing the number of snakes, rats and cockroaches in an area. A managed colony of cats will mostly stay out of the way. Hurting, killing or otherwise removing them only results in other pests moving in. “All animals have a place on this earth,” says Moore. “They depend on us, they rely on us and the very least we can do is return the unconditional love that they give to us.” Through Cats of Durban, Moore is able to ensure a little more love for the city’s strays.