There is no move to forbid anyone for feeding stray cats in public places, the agriculture ministry said on Sunday following a furore on social media that such a rule had been put in place.
The ministry said in a written announcement that its animal welfare policy was based on the five internationally recognised basic freedoms of animals.
These are freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from unnecessary suffering, freedom from injury, pain and illness, freedom from fear and anguish and freedom to express normal behaviour, with suitable living conditions.
“In this context, and taking into account the welfare of stray animals, the ministry does not in any way support the destruction or removal of containers placed for feeding stray animals,” the announcement said.
“The problem created by overpopulation of cats in specific areas is not solved by depriving animals of food, but by implementing comprehensive sterilisation programmes.”
To this end, the ministry, through the veterinary services, it added, implements an islandwide plan for the sterilisation of stray cats in collaboration with municipalities, community councils and animal welfare organisations.
“The ministry recognizes the work of animal-friendly volunteers, who work daily at a significant cost to themselves, for the protection of animals in our country and calls on all stakeholders to approach the issue in a spirit of cooperation in the interest of animals and, by extension, of all citizens of our country,” it said, adding that just for clarification purposes on the issue, it would consult with the attorney-general’ office.