Animal lovers in Plovdiv have been outraged by widespread poisoning of cats in recent days.
Poison, placed in cheap mince and sausages, has led to the deaths of cats and kittens in many parts of Bulgaria’s second city, and has taken the lives of dogs too, according to local media reports.
The poisonings in mid-November come a few months after the municipality publicly warned people against feeding stray cats, saying that those who do so would face fines of 500 leva (about 250 euro). By Bulgarian standards, a large sum, given that official statistics show the average monthly salary as 820 leva.
In July, a report by the Four Paws organisation said that while between 2009 and 2014 the number of stray dogs in Plovdiv had practically halved to just more than 300, the number of stray cats had risen from 8000 to more than 10 200.
Plovdiv news website Podtepeto.com reported on November 10 that there had been deliberate poisoning of cats in various parts of the city, including in the centre near the public broadcasting complex, close to Sahat Tepe hill and at the city’s international rowing facility.
The website said that it had received several messages from readers outraged by the cases of poisoning, adding that domestic pets, including dogs, also had fallen victim.
The site said that there were “mountains” of dead kittens in all neighbourhoods of the city. The report said that, as to the institutions in the city including the municipality and prosecution, so far there had been no comment.
The report quoted Plovdiv resident Martin Benevski as saying that in just two days, he had found six dead kittens in the area where he lives.
“I think that it is organised, it is hardly coincidental that this has happened in various neighbourhoods in a week,” he said.
Another reader complained that his pet cat, a neutered male, had – in spite of the cat’s customary routine – failed to come home for some days.
A separate report quoted Margarita Kehayova, who lives in the centre of Plovdiv near the public broadcasting complex, as saying that her pet Pinscher had died, apparently after eating poison intended for feral cats. She said that in recent days, several cats in the area had died.
On November 12, local media said that the zoological veterinary complex in Plovdiv was to form a second team for deworming and neutering stray cats.
The report quoted the head of the facility, Martcho Dulev, as saying that a second van had been bought and soon two teams would be working daily to neuter stray cats. A third team had the task of neutering stray dogs.
“The cat population is a pressing problem that can be solved with public help. Our appeal is to stop feeding them,” Dulev said, adding that the city used traps to catch cats and this was easier if the cats were hungry.
He said that the problem of the stray cat population could be solved within three to four years if residents of the city responded to this call for co-operation.
Earlier, in a separate report on November 6, local media quoted Dulev as saying that close to 800 stray cats had been neutered in Plovdiv since the beginning of 2014. In 2013, the figure was 500.
The report quoted Dulev as saying that consideration was being given to catching cats with nets, “but many citizens would be outraged by this”.
Early in November, Vlado Iliev, head of the municipal inspectorate, repeated the warning that those who feed street dogs or cats would face serious fines.
Iliev said that recently there had been an increase in complaints of unregulated feeding of cats in the city, especially in its Trakia area.
He said that those who wanted to feed and care for stray animals should apply for registration as volunteers and they would be issued with certificates to do so in places designated for feeding animals.
In late September, Podtepeto.com reported that in Plovdiv’s Marash district, there had been cases of cats being shot. Complaints had been lodged with the police, the report said.