Last month, the Congress of Deputies hosted the second Feline Parliamentary Forum to review the status of feral cat welfare in Spain.
Organised by the Parliamentary Association for the Defence of Animal Rights (APDDA), the Forum offered a wonderful opportunity for different entities responsible for feline welfare to explore the current situation in Spain, and to establish the steps needed to protect feral cats and improve their welfare.
200 attendees from across Spain attended and listened to an outstanding panel of veterinarians, feline experts, deputies and municipal representatives.
Cesus Yuste (APDDA coordinator) led into the conference with Emma Infante (President of Futur Animal) who recalled the presentation of the Cat Manifesto during the first Forum in 2015, and the impact it has since had on cat welfare in Spain.
International Cat Care’s Chief Executive, Claire Bessant, presented via a video the charity’s ‘International Declaration of Responsibilities to Cats’. This document provides a clear framework for a collaborative and coordinated approach to the protection and improvement of cat welfare. The Declaration received a very positive response, with Enrique Alonso (permanent member of the Council of State) later reiterating the importance of collaboration, especially between the public administration and the animal protection associations to achieve optimum TNR programme results. Claire asked all participants to show their support for the Declaration by signing and sharing it online.
Feline medicine and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programmes were discussed by a veterinary panel led by Joan Capdevila (Deputy member of APDDA). Capdevila was accompanied by Albert Lloret, member of the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCDvets), Rafael Laguens, President of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), and Valentina Aybar, President of the Feline Medicine Study Group of Spain (GEMFE). Ann Criel, secretary of the Federation of Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) made a presentation via a specially prepared video.
In another session, moderated by Jorge Luis (Deputy of APDDA), Agnès Dufau (promoter of the Feline Manifesto; CAROcat) mapped TNR and feral cats’ recognition in Spanish Animal Protection Laws and local ordinances. Local TNR programme examples were also given by Luis Medina-Montoya, general director of the Environment and Sustainability area of the Málaga City Council, on the Málaga TNR model and Ángeles Doval, from the association Micos do Barrio on the TNR programme of Santiago de Compostela.
APDDA will soon publish the conclusions in full, but important aspects highlighted at the Forum were:
- the importance to know the real public health risks posed by feral cats, to avoid disseminating incorrect alarming messages regarding colony cats;
- the call to fully understand that feral cat welfare can only be guaranteed in a managed colony and that they should not be kept in shelters or considered as adoptable animals;
- the need for all stakeholders to be trained on feline medicine and behaviour, and the necessary collaboration between the associations and the public administration.
For more information, including videos from the Forum, visit: http://carocat.eu/madrid-the-congress-of-deputies-hosted-the-ii-feline-parliamentary-forum/
To find out more about the Declaration and to declare your support for improving feline welfare by signing it, visit: icatcare.org/declaration