Our good friend Agnès Dufau, Co-Founder and President of FdCats and recipient of the International Cat Care Welfare Award in 2014, has kindly sent us this report on a recent Parliamentary Forum that took place in Seville in March. It is great to see such a holistic approach being taken to cat welfare!
“The First Andalusian Feline Parliamentary Forum took place in Seville, in the Parliament of Andalusia, on the 24th of March. The event organised by FdCats included eight different presentations and an institutional welcome panel that aimed to take a step forward in feline protection.
This event was historic for the region of Andalusia, due to the magnificent institutional venue in which it took place, and also due to the “wide angle” programme of the conference which included talks about feline welfare whatever cats’ lifestyle and situation: in shelters, municipal pounds, cat clinics, and cat colonies. Presentations included topics such as successful cat population management, effective shelter management, cat friendly clinics, cat colonies poisoning and abuse, and legislative issues, with renowned national and international speakers.”
The welcome panel was attended by Ana María Mestre, first Vice-President of the parliament of Andalusia, Encarnación Aguilar, Deputy Mayor Delegate of the Animal Health and Protection Area of the Seville City Council, Fidel Astudillo, President of the Andalusian Council of Veterinary Colleges, Esperanza Oña, Member of Parliament and Agnès Dufau, president of FdCATS.
Given the relevance of the people present, we are confident that the will to do good for cat welfare will be transformed into tangible improvements at local and regional level. The new law 7/2023 on the Protection and Rights of Animals will certainly be a great boost to start doing things right.
Overview of the presentations
Agnès Dufau, president of FdCATS, insisted that TNR is based on a scientific and demanding methodology that produces results when it is applied correctly. You cannot blame TNR for its ineffectiveness when the steps that constitute it have not been scrupulously followed. Anybody can now learn about well managed TNR programs such as the one of Córdoba, which is an example of best practices implemented over the last 2 years in the Andalusian city.
“A TNR programme is not about giving four grants to four friendly organisations to neuter a few cats that cause nuisance in a neighbourhood“. The president of FdCats lashed out at the city councils and NGOs that irresponsibly use the term TNR program, jeopardising the credibility of the efficiency of the method.”
Alejandra Mier gave the keys to the successful management of a centre for animal protection as head of the Municipal Centre of Oviedo and member of Fundación Protectora de Asturias. She has also been successful for two decades with TNR programs in three different Asturian municipalities. Her reflections on the need to eradicate abandonment and to limit the entrance of animals in municipal or private centres, are one of the nine key points in which she has delved into, among which “Turning the kennel into a cattery” stands out
Octavio Pérez Luzardo, the professor of toxicology best known in the community for his arguments on cats and biodiversity, gave a magnificent lecture on poisoning. Cats are the victims of numerous poisonings, and every week a cat arrives at his laboratory in Las Palmas intoxicated. He criticised the ease of access to poisons, the lack of control and indirect poisoning – through the consumption of poisoned animals or plants. He emphasised that poisons are a harm to wildlife, a risk to domestic animals and to public health, and have an economic impact on the affected area. He told the audience what to do if there is a presumption of possible poisoning and the key precautions. He indicated that the authorities should come forward to initiate a chain of custody. The laboratory analysing the remains must be well trained and equipped. Expert evidence is key to securing convictions, as well as other solid information and testimonial evidence.
Eduardo Olmedo, the environmental prosecutor of Valencia, gave the only presentation focused exclusively on legislative issues. He made a comparison between current Andalusian legislation and new national legislation, with special emphasis on the reform of the penal code.
Victoria Reyero and Yolanda Herrera
The Cat Friendly Clinics had Victoria Reyero and Yolanda Herrera as their perfect representatives. It was especially relevant what they told us why they work in Seville and demonstrated the high level that the Andalusian capital reaches punctually by the hand of these two members of GEMFE. A lot of data and images that explained the complexity and detail that must be carefully taken care of so that the experience of the medical visit is not traumatic for the cat. They told us, among many others, an interesting fact: Which European country is the second in number of clinics exclusively for cats? Surprisingly, yes! Spain is the second country, after the UK, with the highest number of Cat Friendly Clinics. Hopefully, the knowledge of local professionals will flourish among municipal, animal health centre and shelter officials as the orange blossom does.
Julie Levy and Lena DeTart were the international guests who could only be present from a distance, but can now be followed on the Jornadas Felinas Andaluzas YouTube channel.
Julie Levy has been a veterinarian since 1989 and a world reference in Shelter Medicine. She has received 23 awards for her work. From Florida, the University and Maddie’s Shelter Foundation, she is doing a great job, not only in research, but also in teaching and promoting good practices. She is an unrepentant promoter of the CER method and has the joy of having saved at least three and a half million cats directly, and many more through the recognition of positive feline immunodeficiency and leukaemia tests as a possibility, not a death sentence. Her proposals are successful and her good work keeps us up to date on the latest developments in feline medicine. Millions of cats are indebted to this great professional. It is well worth listening to her and having her as an inspiration. Julie Levy’s talk is available here.
Lena DeTar has been co-editor of “The Guidelines for Standards of Care for Animal Shelters” in its second edition. It features an iconic illustration of the layout of the litter box, the feeder and the litter box. We shared funny moments such as when we had to remember that: “a cat is not a dog”, and that the specificity of felines required specific training and care. It is essential to emphasise that we are facing a paradigm shift, we will no longer use the fifty-year-old term of animal husbandry that pointed out the “five freedoms of animal welfare” and we will talk about the five domains. David Mellor’s concepts of 1996 are revived, introducing an interesting change. Nutrition, environment, health and opportunity – in Mellor the Behaviour – are completed by the fifth domain which is the state of mind. The Guidelines set out the so-called key actions that distinguish between unacceptable, mandatory, recommended and ideal practices. It would be interesting for all those responsible for public, private or mixed animal facilities to soak up these guidelines, make changes, some of them immediate, or else they will not be able to talk about welfare and health in their shelters. Lena de Tar’s talk is available here.
All presentations will be available on the Jornadas Felinas Andaluzas YouTube channel.