With the city’s cat population exploding due to the pandemic, the BMC now plans to sterilise homeless cats in the city. The civic body might have to float tenders once again this year to appoint organisations/ agencies to carry out the task. Like homeless dogs in Mumbai, the population of cats has also increased significantly. Taking note of this rising population of stray cats, in June 2018, the civic body asked for permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to include stray cats in the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme under which dogs are sterilised too.
The matter was then tabled before the civic standing committee. While the standing committee first approved the proposal in January 2019, the sterilisation was supposed to start from April 1, 2019. But the process never took off that year. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic led to the process coming to a complete standstill.
The BMC has decided to sterilise homeless cats in the city once again from January 2020. For this, the Mumbai civic body had selected four agencies for this and will spend Rs 800 to sterilise a male cat and Rs 1,000 on a female cat.
"Due to the pandemic many of our staff and funds have been diverted towards covid19 essential work. Many other smaller projects have taken a back seat for time being and temporarily. Once the situation stabilises we will take it up again," said a BMC official.
The sterilisation process for the cat will take place at the Mumbai Veterinary College, In Defense of Animals in Parel, Universal Animal Welfare Society in Govandi and Animal and Bird Care and Advanced Research Centre in Goregaon. The civic body has data on stray dogs, there is no data available on the number of stray cats in the city. While the BMC conducts a dog census every five years, it has not yet conducted a feline census, ever. "There is no provision in the ABC programme for cat sterilisation, but we can now go ahead with the project because we have permission from the AWBI,” the official added.