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Neutering program may cut cat numbers

THE number of stray cats in Shanghai may fall by about 40,000 a year after the Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association introduced a program to sterilize stray cats.

"We already have three veterinary clinics involved that can provide 20 or 30 sterilizations a month," said Tao Rongfang, from the association. "These operations will be free or cost much less than normal. The vets have agreed to charge a maximum of 50 yuan (US$7.30) for each operation, a tenth of the standard price."

Residents who want to have stray cats in their area sterilized can apply to the association and, if approved, take the cats to a participating vet to be neutered.

After they are sterilized, the stray cats will be kept until they are adopted. Those not adopted will be released back on to the streets. Zhang Yi, the head of the association, says this is the best way to control the sharply increasing number of stray cats.

"A cat can give birth to three to six kittens a year, many more offspring than a dog," Tao said. "There isn't an accurate count, but there are hundreds of thousands of stray cats in Shanghai."

However, an animal lover who declined to be named told Shanghai Daily that it was cruel to sterilize stray cats. "Cats have lives, and they have the right to fall in love and have babies."

But Tao said the operation wouldn't have any negative effects. "Animals may become more docile between three months and a year after the operation, because they have fewer male hormones in their bodies." The Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association can be contacted on 6143-2446.


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