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Oshakati hospital to control feral cats

Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, together with the Oshakati Town Council and the University of Namibia, are conducting a community education drive on the welfare of feral cats at the biggest hospital in northern Namibia.

The three institutions launched a community education outreach at the hospital yesterday.

This comes after The Namibian reported on feral cats frequenting the hospital’s wards in July, including feeding on placentas and babies’ umbilical cords.

Speaking at the launch, Oshana regional chief environmental health officer Maria Nandjala said the programme is particularly significant in line with the ongoing zoonotic diseases arising from the uncontrolled stray cats.

“There is a need for us to work together as a community to raise awareness as well as come up with better strategies on the control of feral cats and waste management strategies for preventing the spread of diseases of this nature under one health umbrella,” she said.

Nandjala said that zoonotic diseases are among the leading causes of illness in the world if not effectively managed.

“These diseases’ burden becomes less when tackled from all angles and we are delighted to have the partners on board to come up with this great initiative.”

Yvonne Hemberger from the University of Namibia said feral cats mice, snakes and insects they eat them.

Oshakati medical superintendent Ruben Kanime said when The Namibian published the report on wild cats at the hospital some people suggested that the cats be killed.

He added that the cats have been staying at the hospital and people and cats should co-exist.

However, a nurse at the hospital told the meeting that patients admitted at the hospital are not comfortable seeing cats on their beds and in their rooms.

“The cats are all over. If you go to the maternal ward, you will find more than 20 cats there,” he said.

A document prepared by NHA Wedvet Clinic titled ‘Oshakati State Hospital Trap Neuter and Release Campaign’ shows that 34 cats at the hospitals were sterilised, vaccinated against rabies and dewormed.

After The Namibian published the report about cats roaming the hospital, Cool Cats Namibia, a community of cat owners and lovers, said it was high time Namibia takes the matter of unwanted cats and dogs seriously and explore the reasons why these animals are there.

“The cats are there because people have neglected and dumped their unsterilised house cats. Without a home, the cats try to survive wherever they find a bit of food. If the cats are very hungry, they will go for whatever food they can find, even if it is umbilical cords,” the organisation said.

The organisation claimed that the cats terrorise no one, as they are trying to survive.

It says humans are to blame for this. “The cats must be left alone and not get habituated.”

Cool Cats Namibia said the cats should be fed and given water at a certain time at a certain place by a reliable caretaker.

“Once they are not starving any more, they will stay away from people and from areas where they should not be.”