200 people from different Spanish regions filled the Ernest Lluch hall of the Congress of the Deputies to listen to an outstanding panel of veterinarians, feline experts, deputies and municipal representatives.
The objective of the forum, which was organized by the Parliamentary Association for the Defense of Animals Rights (Apdda), was to review the status of feral cats’ welfare in Spain.
Chesus Yuste (APDDA coordinator) led into the conference with Emma Infante (President of Futur Animal). Infante recalled the presentation of the Cat Manifesto during the First Forum, held in 2015, and the impact it had on cat welfare in Spain.
Feline Medicine and TNR
The first panel was a veterinarian panel led by Joan Capdevila (Deputy member of Apdda). Capdevila was accompanied by Albert Lloret, member of the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCDvets), Rafael Laguens, president of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe(FVE), and Valentina Aybar, president of the Feline Medicine Study Group of Spain (GEMFE) . Ann Criel, secretary of the Federation of Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) showed up in a video specially prepared for the occasion.
Local TNR programs
The second round table was moderated by Jorge Luis, deputy of APDDA. During this session Agnès Dufau (promoter of the Feline Manifesto; CAROcat) mapped TNR and feral cats’ recognition in Spanish Animal Protection Laws and local ordinances.
Luis Medina-Montoya, general director of the Environment and Sustainability area of the Malaga City Council, explained how the Málaga TNR model was implemented and how it is currently working. Medina Montoya highlighted the importance of the partnership between the animal protection NGOs and the public administration. Ángeles Doval, from the association Micos do Barrio, detailed the TNR program of Santiago de Compostela and stressed the need to train and inform both volunteers and the neighborhood.
Claire Bessant, ICatCare CEO presented the Cat Declaration in a video, asking all participants to sign and share the petition which provide a clear framework for a collaborative and coordinated approach to the protection and improvement of cat welfare.
Enrique Alonso (permanent member of the Council of State) joined the closing table and took this opportunity to insist on the need to establish quantified objectives when implementing TNR programs. Alonso reiterated the importance of the collaboration between the public administration and the animal protection associations to achieve optimum TNR programs results.
Speakers: Rafael Laguens (FVE), Albert Lloret (ABCD), Emma Infante (FuturAnimal), Agnès Dufau (CAROcat), Luis Medina-Montoya (Ayuntamiento de Málaga), Jorge Luis (diputado de APDDA), Chesús Yuste (coordinador de APDDA), Joan Capdevila (diputado de APDDA), Ángeles Doval (Micos do Barrio, de Santiago de Compostela) y Valentina Aybar (GEMFE).
Conclusions of the Feline Forum
During the closing session Chesús Yuste anticipated some of the conclusions APDDA is going to publish:
- the importance to know the real public health risks to avoid disseminating incorrect alarming messages regarding colony cats;
- the call to fully understand that feral cat welfare can only be guaranteed in a managed colony and that they should not be kept in shelters or been considered as adoptable animals;
- the need for all stakeholders to be trained on feline medicine and behaviour, and the necessary collaboration between the associations and the public administration.
The Congress, sponsored by CAROcat, TASSO e.V and 11Pets, offered a wonderful opportunity to explore the current situation of stray cats in Spain and establish steps forward which are needed to improve their welfare and protection.
The videos of the conference are now available on the APDDA Youtube channel.