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Case of stray cats in Menton: “The situation is becoming unmanageable” warns an animal welfare association

Created in 1986 and a member of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Animal Protection Federation (FDPA PACA) since 2011, the Felix Felis Association is undoubtedly the oldest and most active animal protection association in the Menton basin. To date, it brings together a dozen volunteers who act every day in Menton, but also throughout the French Riviera, with limited funds.

As it gradually resumes its activities at the end of the Covid-19 crisis with the organization, this Sunday, of its traditional lotto, Éliane Lemaître, vice-president of the association, and Françoise Raynaud, secretary and treasurer, answered our questions.

Can you remind us of your most important missions in the area?

Our main effort is to feed, care and sterilize stray cats to prevent their spread in places where they have found refuge. This is the major concern of the municipalities, it is an obligation for the mayors, and this is essentially why they give us subsidies. For sociable cats found without masters, we do everything to find them a new foster family.

Do you also intervene with other abandoned animals?

We are sometimes called to cases other than cats, yes, but you should know that we do not have an adapted structure or foster families for e.g. dogs. We can intervene to find owners of lost dogs if they are identified, but often we call Sospels SPA and the municipal police, who bring them to the pound in Nice, because we do not have the necessary resources. We remain voluntary, not a public service, this is important to emphasize because many people do the merging. We can’t necessarily make the paramedics everything and anything at 9pm in the evening. We do what we can, but it’s not always possible.

Where do the cats you collect and put up for adoption come from? Is it apostasy?

These are often people who have to move, go to a retirement home, or who have died and whose families do not want the cat back. It is rare for animals to be rehabilitated in the event of a death. Today it is certain that we can no longer recover some of them because we are saturated. The situation becomes unmanageable.

That means?

We have about six foster families so far, all with about 20 cats each. We, the volunteers, host them ourselves in our homes. It should also be noted that there are cats that are not sociable, that cannot be adopted, but also cannot be put back on the street because they would be at risk. We stored, if we can say that, but after a while we can’t, because we have no premises, nothing. What we have wanted for years is to open a cattery. We raised the subject with the new municipality and Mr. Patrice Novelli, the assistant in charge of associations and the condition of the animals, is doing everything to help us, but it seems that there is no common land available at the moment. We will have to look at other options.

Looking for land for sale?

Yes, we would need non-buildable land, accessible by road, where we can have water and electricity. With an area of ​​at least 400 m2 to put shelters for cats. Thanks to the generosity of a benefactor, we obtained an inheritance that would allow us to acquire this land if it is not too expensive. Our volunteers would take turns taking care of the cattery, and it would definitely not cause any inconvenience to the local residents, because the cats do not make noise.

Like many associations, you also have problems recruiting…

Yes, we still need volunteers, and we especially need young blood (laughs). We are all getting old and tired. Only these people have to have time, a way to get around, because we don’t provide a vehicle or gas… It requires a big investment, which is hard to find, and it doesn’t bring in anything, except the satisfaction of helping animals (laughs ).

Looking for specific profiles?

We would need sensors to catch feral cats as we only have two volunteers left to do this. It is a special method, on the move you need to be patient and careful. Recently, an island with 22 cats was found on Boulevard du Fossan. Our volunteers had to go there many times to succeed in catching all the cats, none of them were easy to catch and there are still two females to catch. You should know that a pair of unsterilized cats can theoretically generate up to 20,000 offspring in four years! And that applies in real life!

Why are events like the lottery you are organizing today important to you?

We have several sources of income: grants from the municipalities and the city area, our members’ contributions – 30 euros per year – and donations. But our actions represent a very significant financial cost, and the two biggest expenses are food and veterinary expenses. These are balanced between 1,500 and 2,000 euros each month and we also order at least 1 ton of kibble per month. We therefore organize events such as lotteries and garage sales to reap additional benefits. Which was no longer possible during the pandemic, which put us completely on the ground financially. We pick up a bit there.

The Minister of the Interior published an investigation into attacks on livestock last month. This shows that these attacks are increasing by 30% between 2016 and 2021. In France, 12,000 offenses against pets were recorded by the police and gendarmerie in 2021. Recently, the press echoed the case in Sospel or Roya. Are you also invited to this topic?

Yes, we are called, but all we can do is write to the owners of the animal, because we have no power over this point. We check the situation, we try to say “be careful, there is an association that is there and that monitors” and generally people react and the situation improves. If we have feedback that this is not the case, we then transfer the case to an association in Nice that is more competent than us to carry out these actions, which works in collaboration with the police.




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