They’re a familiar sight in Beijing, slinking across narrow alleyways and sunning themselves in local compounds. The city’s stray cats may seem like an innocent (and even romantic sight), but they are the cause of a local overpopulation crisis. It’s difficult to uncover hard figures for the number of stray cats living in Beijing, but even conservative estimates place the total in the hundreds of thousands. Luckily, there’s one way you can help.
To combat the problem, the International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) offers a free training program called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). The only structured TNR program in China, the workshop is available in both English and Chinese. Essentially, it teaches volunteers how to trap stray cats using a special cage, bring them in for spaying and neutering, and release them back into their original habitat. Best of all? Everything is free, including the training, trap rentals, and professional support from ICVS. The medical procedures are provided at very low cost or free for eligible communities.
All stray cats are vaccinated, sterilized, and eartipped to keep track of the animals that have already been brought in. This helps control the feral and stray cat population, as well as reduce the risk of rabies – a fatal and endemic problem in China. Sterilized cats are also less likely to fight and make noise, making neighborhoods more livable for all members of the community. In other words, sterilizing and vaccinating stray cats is a matter of public health and safety.
Teens can help out, too; the minimum age for being a TNR volunteer is 15 (provided parents or guardians sign an agreement). All volunteers – and indeed, all Beijing residents – are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against rabies. The shots are administered in a series of three and cost around RMB 120 each.
Due to the scope of Beijing’s stray cat problem, ICVS holds a free TNR workshop every month. This month’s edition takes place on February 25. The English session is from 1 to 2.30pm while the Chinese session is from 11am to 12.30pm. All participants must register by February 22 at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit ICVS’ website.
Photo by Judy Zhou