Eight to ten cats are living in an Mdina public garden which recently had its shelters removed by the local council due to health concerns, a Maltese cat activist has said.
“What a let down by the council. The shelter wasn’t abandoned and they could have been replaced,” said Bernardine Warrington, the cat feeder of the park.
Last week, NGO Animal Guardians Malta uploaded photos of a man “removing and destroying” cat shelters in Howard’s gardens, sparking outrage among the online cat-lovers community.
However, the Mdina Local Council responded stating that cats were never seen dwelling in the garden and removed the shelters – adding that Animal Guardians Malta “failed to get their facts right”.
“The shelters are mainly for winter when it rains, so the food doesn’t get wet and they can shelter while eating,” continued Warrington.
“I used to put cushions inside and change the food and water every day. It used to get dirty but only with rain, wind and leaves. I didn’t stay polishing it.”
The park is commonly frequented by the general public and is considered to be one of Malta’s prime tourist sites. According to the local council, the trays of cat food created an unhealthy environment for cats and attracted flies, wasps and ants.
The council also noted that cat shelters also require the permission of the local council before they can be erected.
“They [local council] removed them because of COVID-19 and to keep the place clean. But they could’ve removed them earlier because the virus has already been here for three months,” Warrington continued.
Malta has a large population of stray cats that reside in colonies around the island, many in local parks. They’re attended to by cat-loving feeders who take from their own pocket to buy food and shelter. Some will go as far as paying vet bills.
“Maybe the shelters weren’t at their best, but this is why we need some type of local fund. Every local council should make shelters for every colony, not just in one main specific place,” said Kitty Guardian For Strays founder Miriama Borg Debrincat.
“Most local councils don’t give a shit.”
With feeders having to foot the bill of stray cats, many are struggling to keep up with the costs. In order to help feeders to keep doing what they do a fundraiser has been set up with all proceeds going towards cat food which will be distributed to feeders around the island.
“I just hope they will make cat shelters for winter,” ended Warrington.