A call for help from a hospital overrun by cats has forced animal lovers to sit up and take notice, and offer help in sterilising the cats.
It was a feline problem of clawing proportions. The increasing feline population at Sewri's TB hospital was proving to be an irritant to the hospital and its patients. After the story appeared in MiD Day (Attack of cats at TB hospital; November 23 edition), animal lovers across the city have offered to help authorities sterilise the cats. The authorities were in a fix as they did not have the requisite funds to sterilise the cats and thereby help bring their population under control.
A cat sleeps on a patient's bed at Sewri's TB Hospital
Reacting to MiD Day's report, non-government organisations have stepped up to help; they will start the sterilisation program for the cats on Monday within the hospital premises itself.
"We have put an ambulance in place and my team has already surveyed the hospital premises. We will get a private doctor to sterilise all the stray animals, including the cats, in the hospital compound. After sterilisation, we will put them up for adoption and those who do not get adopted will be left in the same areas from where they were picked up," said Ganesh Nayak, from Animals Matters to Me (AMTM), a Mumbai-based NGO. Nayak added that a firm named Blue Lotus had agreed to fund the sterilisation of 25 cats. While Dr Rajendra Nanavare, medical superintendent of the hospital, said, "They (NGOs) have approached me and we are fine with them taking on the work of sterilisation of the cats. These animals roam around the hospital, entering the compound from the slums nearby, and then going back there. To put a permanent stop to this, we have decided to put grills in the open spaces from where they might enter the hospital."
The problem, according to Dr Nanavare is that patients at times give away leftover food to these cats, after which the cats start coming regularly to the ward.
According to the hospital staffers, as many as 45 cats have made the hospital wards their home. On any given day, they can be seen sprawled on the floor contentedly, sometimes climbing into patients' beds for a nap.
Relatives of the patient admitted at the hospital told Sunday Mid Day that they have to be cautious while feeding the cats since they got aggressive especially if eggs and milk was served. "These cats sleep in the hospital wards, and often leap onto the hospital beds, even when the patients are resting on them. Cats are quite commonplace in public hospitals, but the numbers here are alarming," said a hospital staffer, adding that the worst affected wards were ward number five, six and seven.
Lt Col (Dr) J C Khanna, Secretary And Officer-In-Charge of the animal hospital of Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) welcomed the sterilisation move. "The sterilisation program will be beneficial for both, patients as well as the feline population. Once the sterilisation program is conducted, the patients should feel at ease."