Feral cats to be given shelter from the elements in Ninove

From this month the municipal authorities in the East Flemish town of Ninove will start installing wooden shelters to enable feral, stray and street cats to shelter from the elements. Ninove Town Council ordered the shelters from the Flemish Regional Authorities. Each municipality in Flanders is entitled to two of the shelters free of charge.     

The Alderman responsible animal welfare in Ninove Katie Coppens told VRT Radio 2 East Flanders “The law on animal welfare state that the municipality is obliged to ensure that that every animal is provided with suitable accommodation. Normally it is the owner that does this, but feral cats are the responsibility of the municipality”.    

Consequently Ninove Town Council accepted the Flemish Authorities offer of 2 free shelter. The council has had a sterilisation programme in place for feral and street cats since 2009.

Each of the wooden shelters has room for four cats. The shelters are position above the ground to prevent their floors from becoming damp. They are made of hard-wearing wood to offer maximum protection from the elements. Ms Coppens explained that currently local residents make their own shelters for the cats, but they are less wind and rain proof.

There is a big need for shelters for feral and street cats. Research carried out on behalf of the Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) found that the number of cats being brought into animal refuges last year had risen to 14,197 last year. This was up from 12,153 in 2017.  

The local council in Ninove also intends to issue “feeding passes” to those wishing to feed the cats without risking and anti-social behaviour fine. They will be given a specific location where they can feed the cats and special times at which they can do so. In the evenings they will be obliged to take any uneaten food away with them away against to prevent it attacking vermin.