Clowder

The stray cats of Warsaw

When you walk around the streets of Warsaw you would probably never notice these little houses. They are hidden from the public for a reason, they are placed around town for the stray-cats of Warsaw that made the streets their home.

 

Animal care in Poland is still not on European standards, but things are changing. However, some problems are not easy to resolve. The shelters in Poland are overcrowded so in this case it is better for the cats to live on the streets than to spend the rest of their lives in a crowded shelter.

Most of the cats are wild and get very stressed and aggressive around humans. Volunteers take in young cats to find them a home, but most of the elder cats prefer to live on the streets. All over town there are little hidden houses, some of them are placed by volunteers from the shelters, some are made and placed by local people. They also provide the cats with food and water to make sure the cats are doing well on the streets.

For the cats that need a little bit of more attention, local shelters found a solution for them by placing them with homeless people that took shelter at empty recreational gardens. They look after the animals in exgange for a tiny amount of money (± 2 euro a week). Cats that remain in the city will look for a quiet place to spend their lives, some of them prefer industrial aerias, others stay around empty buildings and another large group of them seems to be atrected towards the quiet atmosphere of graveyards. Mostly elder people connect with these cats as it is common in Poland to visit the grave of your loved one on a daily basis. They leave food for the animals and sometimes they even built them a house on top of their loveones grave. It is not legall to place the houses on the streets, but it is legal to put whatever you want on your loveones grave.

But again, in this story, a big change mostly starts with a small group of people: for them it’s about catching the wild cats, neutering them and placing them back on the streets. When the cats are neutered there will be fewer kittens next year. At one point, there will be no new kittens at all.

 

The change will also begin with educating the people that do not agree with neutering the cats in the first place, because of religious reasons and their belief that people should not interfere with nature. The Cristian values are high in Poland, it is not commen to spade, nueter or even -when nesseseri-to euthanise an animal.

 

Most of the people see the cats as a problem, so it’s important for the cat houses and their residents to stay hidden, because most of the people are not ready to accept them yet.

© Sabine Grootendorst, 2020