Elderly home’s residents, staff ‘prohibited from feeding, providing water to cats’

Animal Guardians Malta urge parliamentarians to intervene after SVPR residents and staff were banned from feeding stray cats

Residents and staff at Saint Vincent de Paul Residence have been prohibited from feeding cats and kittens and providing them with water, Animal Guardians Malta (AGM) has alleged.

The recently set up animal rights organisation also published correspondence between AGM and the SVPR management, voicing concern over the present situation. A meeting between the two parties was held over two months ago, during which it was agreed that six cat shelters and sheltered feeding stations would be set up outside the gates, at certain points, so as to direct the cats towards them, and possibly lessen the amount of cats in the entrance area and around the main building.

The issue arose after visitors noticed a sign against feeding cats.

Animal Guardians Malta were told that the sign was affixed after numerous complaints were made, including photo evidence, of cats entering the wards and littering. The NGO was told that there were serious infection control implications due to the “unhygienic and unsightly feeding sites” and the cats’ faeces. Makeshift kennels were built out of ragged hotels and the NGO was told that this was unacceptable in a hospital setting.

In a meeting held with SVPR, Animal Guardians Malta recommended a number of measures that would allow the cats to be fed while safeguarding cleanliness at the residence.

“Though we awaited for so long for an update from the Administration, we are disappointed to state, that nothing has been done, and the situation is still as bad as it was back in May,” the NGO wrote in an email to parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana.  “No shelters, no feeding stations and no neutering program.”

The NGO said that although it had offered to go to St Vincent de Paul to talk to the residents and staff on proper food for the cats and the importance of hygiene, no feedback was received.

In a reply thanking the NGO for its concern, Caruana said: “I trust that you are aware that SVP currently is undergoing major structural works and new massive projects which obviously entail the Administration’s full attention. I am sure that what you agreed upon with the Administration will be delivered.”

The NGO today said that residents and staff were not being permitted to feed dry food, to the cats and kittens, or to provide them with water in this extremely hot weather.

“Both residents and their families have contacted us regards this matter, and are very worried cause the feeding of cats and contact with them was serving as therapy to the their relatives. Surely this is animal cruelty at its worst! It is also causing medical repercussions upon residents who are depressed at being banned from feeding their loved ones.”

The NGO called on parliamentary secretary for animal rights Roderick Galdes, PN MP Mario Galea and Caruana to urgently resolve the matter.