COVID-19. It's all we are hearing and talking about right now, the first thing on everyone's minds. Our lives have been turned upside down, working from home, not travelling, not seeing our loved ones. The message is clear - Practice Social Distancing! Stay 2 metres apart, don't shake hands, don't gather in groups, stay at home.
A quick aside before I carry on - As I started writing this, a friend told me that the local vet has seen a surge of people abandoning their pets as they think they can catch the virus from their cats and dogs. I want to stress this is not the case! You can read the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) article about that here. This blog post is not about people dumping their pets because of the coronavirus but more about the parallels I have noticed with the spread of this virus and how a stray cat population can grow out of control in a similar way.
I have heard several times about how a single female cat and her mate can be responsible for the birth of hundreds of thousands of kittens in their lifetime via their un-neutered offspring.
I don't know about you but I always found this a bit hard to get my head around. How can that be possible? So many cats and dogs as a result of one breeding pair? Someone must have made a mistake with that! Even though the evidence is all around us, it still seems unfathomable.
I saw this animation on Facebook yesterday, showing how COVID 19 will continue to spread if unchecked. It shows how Social Distancing can help help to break the chain, slow down the progression of the infection and help to protect the more vulnerable members of society.
The penny then dropped! This is the same model for how so many kittens or puppies can be born when the animals are not neutered! With animals having relatively large litters, it is easy to see how the numbers can keep growing.
Now, cats and dogs aren't great at Social Distancing. We can't explain to them that they aren't doing themselves any favours by hanging out with their mates and making babies. We can't tell the street cats and dogs to stay home and keep 2 metres away from their friends. They can't help themselves, it is their biology, their instincts, they must procreate!
So, what can we do?
Let's look at the animation again but imagine it is stray animal population growth rather than virus spread. TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) works in the same way, each time stopping a new litter from being born. See how it can break the pattern and reduce the numbers?
TNR can feel like an uphill struggle, that we can't fix them all so why bother fixing one? Social Distancing may feel like that to some people too but this brilliant little animation shows that every little helps, in both situations!
People are saying now that there will be a human baby boom in around 9 months time, too many people shut up in their houses with little else to do. This will also be the case for the animals of Qatar. There is a sharp increase in the number of cats and dogs being dumped on the streets (I can't stress this enough, there is no evidence your pets can give you this coronavirus!!) and many of those dumped pets will not be spayed or neutered. Add this to the existing cat and dog population on the streets and we will have another epidemic, this time of stray cats and dogs.
Many vets in Qatar are still open and taking appointments, so it is still possible to get animals spayed. Please look after yourselves and follow the guidelines from the governments, practice Social Distancing and good personal hygiene (keep washing those hands!) but don't stop trying to help the animals on the street. It is still possible to get animals spayed and neutered. Appointments may be harder to come by and there are practices in place to protect the customers and the staff in the vets but don't let this stop you from doing TNR.
You can contact us on our Facebook page here if you need advice or information about which vets are currently open and available to TNR animals. For all things TNR related, you can also visit our TNR Qatar website.
If we all work together and do our bit we can help slow down the stray animal population growth!