Narva Cat Room (Narva Kassituba), the city's largest cat shelter, which currently houses nearly 200 cats, is facing major difficulties. According to the Estonian Agriculture and Food Board (PTA), the shelter only has room to care for half the animals it currently has. However, Narva Cat Room says there is nowhere else in Narva for as many as 100 cats to go.
The Estonian Agriculture and Food Board (PTA) says that the shelter's problems began when, due to staff shortages and a lack of funds, the cats it houses had to be kept in half the previously-available space. Now, 200 cats are living, metaphorically speaking, on top of each other, making it increasingly difficult to prevent the spread of illnesses and disease.
"In every room, you can hear cats sneezing, coughing, and there were vomit stains on the floor, of all things. The concentration of [cats] has increased to such an extent that the spread of disease-causing agents is definitely faster and more intense," said PTA animal welfare specialist Hagbard Räis.
The PTA has now ordered the shelter to take measures to ensure the cats' hygiene and welfare and, above all, to halve the number of animals on the premises. However, according to the shelter, this is not possible in Narva.
"This is unrealistic. There is no demand for cats in Narva. They are very rarely taken. We have sent appeals to other shelters in Narva for someone to take the cats in, but all of them said they had no space," said Marina Smirnova, a volunteer at the shelter.
A modern and spacious pet shelter has been built in Narva. However, with quite a number of older and sick cats currently residing at Narva Cat Room, staff fear that the other shelter may opt to put them down rather than take them on.
The Agriculture and Food Board says that if the situation does not improve, it will take the cats and move them to a new shelter itself, as there is no other solution.
"The shelter's aim is now to find a home for these cats and also, if necessary, for any sick ones with no prospects, to actually put them down. Keeping cats for ten years, or as long they live, as has been considered normal practice there up to now, is probably not a very logical thing to do," Räis said.
Narva Cat Room hopes that the cats from the border town may still be able to find new homes with families in other Estonian cities.
Editor: Michael Cole