Animal activists have taken to social media to share their outrage over the moving of a well-known and beloved cat zone in Independence Gardens, Sliema to a new, nearby location.
“Animal Guardians Malta have complained to the Sliema Local Council that cat village in Independence Gardens has been destroyed completely for the cats, who are now traumatised and disoriented,” the animal support group said.
The zone, nestled between the Sliema sea and the nearby main road, was a mainstay for Sliema strays, who would often be found lazing about the area on pillows and benches. A large cat statue overlooked the area.
However, the council said they had moved the cat area to a “safer” spot, and installed new shelters and lights specifically for the cats.
However, activists warned that the cats that enjoyed the area would now disperse following the move.
“AGM have stated that the only way to save all the Independence colony from dispersing is to restructure the cat village as it was, a place where so many Maltese and tourist cat-lovers used to spend time with the cats,” they continued.
Saying they had reached out to Culture Minister Jose Herrera for his intervention, they criticised the wooden structures that had been installed as shelters for the cats as “coffins”.
The activists contacted the Sliema Local Council to urge them to allow stray cat feeders to place “cosy, neat shelters” in the area.
However, the council said it was separating the leisure areas for humans and animals.
“Please be kind enough to note that this council, on the contrary of what is being claimed on social media, has catered for the cats and placed new shelters in a safe area which has purposefully been reinstated for the use of these cats, where also new lights have been installed. The area is directly beneath the stairs coming down from near Mr Softy,” they told activists in an email.
Aside from the activists themselves, several people, including other Sliema residents, were outraged over the removal, with some of them calling on the Sliema Local Council to step in and bring the old ‘cat village’ back.
“Let the cats be where they are used to live. Cats love their territory and moving them traumatises them. Anyway, they are all neutered and will slowly decrease in numbers, poor things,” said one person.
“People occupy everywhere and nothing tends to be left in peace,” said another. “What is so wrong with dedicating a small cozy area for our cats? People are greedy. You cannot compare that straight wall with their previous spot. We want it back! It’s time that we are fair and leave a place for other creatures.”
“I went to check on the cats today after work,” said a third. “They looked so sad, poor things, never saw them looking so sad By the way the benches were all empty. Don’t understand why some gazebos and benches can’t be spared for the cats. They are so welcoming and friendly. All they do is bring joy to people…”