Hi, this is Dasha again.
First, I would like to THANK EVERYONE who helped us survive the FPV outbreak. We are truly blessed to have great friends and a supportive community. With your help, we have fundraised 1315 USD, which has been enough to deal with the emergency.
Here are our hero's initials: Z.S., P.E., C.W., B.B., M.Q, K.K., E.K., D.T., M.G., M.E., J.H., A.M., J.K., S.C., D.M., M.L., S.P., H.T., J.H., B.P., S.B., N.P.
Note: All financial reports appear at the beginning of each month on our board: https://trello.com/b/1FExInLl
The bad news and the good news
Unfortunately, 15 out of 16 kittens and mothers (that were abandoned on the monastery ground together and developed FVP) quickly died — including those who received the first dose of the FVRCP vaccine. I am very grateful to the sisters and volunteers for their hard work and resilience despite all the hardship.
The good news is that as of today, all other cats that were in the isolation units in the same room have tested negatively on the FVP test and show no clinical signs of infection. Those units, purchased with IFAW grant funds and the vaccination campaign by IFAW and USAVA are why animals, who were not in contact with the kittens, are still healthy and happy.
Despite all the progress, in my opinion, the city residents are not in a place where we can pat ourselves on the back and call it a day. I will describe the problems we are facing now and suggest possible solutions below.
Odesa/Ukraine cat problems
There is still more than plenty of unsterilised cats in the city whose kittens end up on the streets or near shelters, where they are very likely to die. Some of these cats live on the streets, but some — to my shock — are kept in people's homes that let them out so they can fulfil their "maternal function". To say that this is unethical and multiplies suffering is to be very generous.
How shelters or volunteers usually take in cats is only partially safe for newcomers and the cats they might come into contact with. Infectious disease avoidance and prevention is complicated and requires extensive training, expensive equipment and diligence in following the protocols.
This is not to say that they are at fault. In my experience, it's the opposite — most volunteers and shelter staff go to a great length to do whatever they can and with as little they have. Unfortunately, this is often insufficient to ensure the cats' safety and well-being. Unfortunately, humans suffer, too: mentally, financially and sometimes health-wise.
Ukrainian legislation regarding pet ownership is outdated and sometimes simply absent. There is no state registry for pets and their owners, no proof of ownership and most animals are not microchipped, so when they end up on the streets, we have absolutely no idea where the cat came from and if anyone is looking for it. Such an appalling lack of regulation is one of the reasons why irresponsible pet culture is so rampant in Ukraine.
Even when an animal cruelty case comes into public view, the police are uninterested. More than a month ago, I visited a police station to report an incident involving an abuser and a cat. I concluded the story with "the body in the freezer, awaiting the expertise". "Whose body? The woman's?" — the policeman looked at me with disbelief. "I wish" — I thought.
With all that in mind, I started researching the abovementioned issues and came up with a few possible solutions requiring widespread public discussion and testing.
Stray cat population control
In the city, areas already exist where no kittens are born because all cats living there are sterilized and taken care of. We need to expand those areas, working with caretakers to sterilize the remaining cats and identify the most problematic areas. Many volunteers already know a large number of these cats. Microchipping should also be considered, as there is no sure way to tell if a female is sterile without her medical records.
Proper vet centres for quarantine
To the best of my knowledge, as of today, there are no vet centres in Odesa where you can bring a homeless cat with unknown status and take it back vaccinated, sterilized, microchipped — and most importantly, safe to be around for other animals. This is what shelters and volunteers desperately need — most people who pick up homeless cats already have at least a few at home and cannot provide an appropriate degree of safety for everyone.
Improving and enforcing legislation regarding pet ownership and care
This is a crucial step, and we can't wait to see measures typical for most developed European countries implemented in Ukraine: mandatory vaccination, microchipping and pet-owner registration, strict breeding regulations and enforcing animal anti-cruelty laws. We are still researching the topic to understand what measures Feline Foundation should take to push for change in this area.
The Map Project
A few days ago, after many discussions, we decided to launch a new initiative to map all Odesa cat areas and identify unsterilised cats within those populations, so make sure you subscribe to our socials to stay updated!
Thank you as always! Miaow!