Just like the stray dogs, there is a huge population of feral cats in Turkey. They mostly survive though because they are good scavengers. They can jump in and out of rubbish bins and in my experience, in all the areas where we have lived, people put their scraps in bags next to the bins to make it a bit easier for them.
I have posted the following on Facebook, on my page and on several rescue group pages, and I'm glad to see it is being shared far and wide. It's a message that needs to be circulated, and it's self-explanatory:
"Having just read a friend's status about yet another group of cats having been fed all summer by a German family staying here, only to be left to fend for themselves when the family leaves, I am copying my response here because I think it's important.
How many times have I said to people in tourist areas over the years, if you can't commit to feeding a street animal every day of the year,then don't start. Particularly where cats are concerned.
Unlike dogs, feral cats will scavenge for food. They can jump in and out of the bins, whereas dogs can't. Of course this isn't ideal but it's a means of survival for most. But if tourists or those visiting for a limited amount of time, just feed while they are here they take away the cats' natural scavenging instinct and give them a false sense of security.
I have said repeatedly to people doing this...don't feed individual cats..leave bags of food by the bins and allow them to find it. Some of my Turkish neighbours do this,and have done so in all areas where I've lived. This is why people in animal rescue groups all over Turkey have to implement feeding plans every year when the season ends.
Feeding a cat or dog for a limited amount of time while you are on holiday only makes the problem worse for the volunteers living here who are left behind to pick up the pieces"
This isn't just about Turkey. There are cats roaming the streets in many countries where people go on holiday. It's very tempting if you are an animal lover to want to feed them. You do it out of kindness and I'm sure that for a limited time the cats are happy.
But when you leave, you don't see them returning to where you fed them, day after day to find no-one there. It's heartbreaking. In the example I mentioned above, volunteers in the area are now trying to sort out the aftermath. There are many cats there, some pregnant, and also tiny kittens. It is cold and they are starving. It creates a huge problem for the rescue groups, whose funds are limited.
Many other cats who have become used to human contact, and kittens who need hand-rearing, have been taken in by volunteers and these they try to re-home if possible. Large numbers of cats are now being neutered by groups and put back on the streets, to keep the population down.
Please think twice when you are tempted to feed a stray when you are on holiday. Leave food by the bins so that they can keep their scavenging instinct and survive when you return home.
It's different with dogs. There are shelters here, although in most cases not ideal, but it is some kind of refuge. Rescue groups do feed those left on the streets, particularly through the winter, and try to get as many as possible neutered...and some are re-homed.
Like other rescuers in Turkey, Mr A and I continue to feed the dogs on the streets, but not the cats. People in this village leave scraps by the bins for them, as do we.
There are more stray dogs appearing in the village by the day and we are getting through a lot of food. I know I keep mentioning it, and please do not feel obliged, but a donation, no matter how small, will go a long way in enabling us to continue. Thankyou x