COVID-19 transmission rumours strayed pets; many cats abandoned in metro cities

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Within these two years, the cat population has risen in Mumbai and other metro cities. The first wave of the pandemic has taken a big toll on pets, with many being abandoned on the city’s hostile streets. There was a report on April 05, 2021, that triggered pet owners to abandon their pets. In that report WHO confirmed the possibility of COVID-19 transmission from humans to cats, dogs, and tigers.

The last two months when there is news of third wave and Delta plus variant spread saw breeders abandoning pups as there are no buyers. Many are only focused on making money and don’t know how to take care of animals. More than humans, it’s the pets that suffered a lot due to pandemic crises. 

Muzaffar Mushtak Shaikh, a cat breeder said, “I live with many cats and I breed them but never felt any threat. Rather they are the stress busters and unconditional friends.” “There is no point in blaming people because the loss of employment forced many people to go back to their hometowns, and they had no option but to let go of their pets. It’s sad but cats and dogs that have been abandoned need to be rescued.”

Merline Mathias, a cat groomer said, “One needs compassion for pets and animals around. They gradually become members of our family. Animals are more affectionate than humans. They understand love, and abandoning them is a very cruel act. I am staying with many cats in my house but never got insecure or scared; rather I was more alert about their health conditions.”

Garima Trivedi, an animal lover from Delhi said, “As a non-medico and someone who would like to rely on WHO for medical guidance, we have had only speculations so far about the origin from a bat and then other species. There is no evidence of a transmittable COVID variant and hence statements by governing bodies like WHO is at best a possibility. The governments should also account for the abandonment of strays and pets who have suffered on account of the disease. Even the last covid strays suffered so much due to unavailability of food.”

Aditi Vinay told Afternoon Voice, “Many cooperative housing societies are fed up with the growing populace of cats, these abandoned cats are in the habit of living with humans, and that is the reason they are taking shelter in nearby habitats. Since it was locked down many cats died of hunger as people were scared to feed them. Now it is the rainy season, so hardly any prey, the hungry cats are barging inside the homes.”

Tarannum the cat feeder from Borivali told Afternoon Voice, “With many pet parents dying in the pandemic, and families testing positive, there has been an increase in pet abandonment. There are few such cats in our nearby society too. Two days back one cat made his way to someone’s house and got stuck on a balcony. There was a very panicked situation, neither the flat owner was in a position to rescue the cat, nor the cat was in a position to escape. Somehow I and one animal lover resident rescued the cat but by then it was brutally hurt.”

“The lockdown has arrived with massive fear; there is poverty, job loss and depression amongst people. People are abandoning their kittens, puppies, dogs, rabbits and fish out of tanks. Survival is another challenge for everyone. We are witnessing the new moral lows,” said Abhijit Khedkar, a student from Pune.

“In school, they teach us to be humble to all living beings, they tell us to be kind to pets, but in reality when I see strayed animals get hitting and hated, I feel sorry. There should be some education given to people on how to be kind with helpless animals around,” Madhurima Mukherjee, a student said.

Alicia Lee, a young school girl says, “I really feel sad to see cruelty towards animals. I see many dogs and cats searching for food on garbage piles. COVID has given way to the insensible and the unkind approach.”

Ashwajit Gaikwad, an activist said, “People have trashed their pets to death, others hurt them, yet some poison them before abandoning. Studies have shown that domestic abuse victims delay or refuse to leave their animals with the domestic abusers as their pets have been victims as well, which shows that pet abusers live in closeted abusive households where the victims are locked in. The Pandemic has forced that beast in humans to come out and act thoughtlessly.”