Animal Rights

Feral Cats of Old San Juan Face Removal Amidst Local Outcry

Main image to the post Feral Cats of Old San Juan Face Removal Amidst Local Outcry

Feral cats have long been a familiar sight in the historic district of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, the National Park Service has proposed a plan to remove these cats from the San Juan National Historic Site, which includes the iconic Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. This plan has sparked controversy, with many residents expressing their opposition.

The National Park Service argues that the cats are "not ideal," particularly in the tourist-heavy Paseo del Morro, and their presence is inconsistent with park service policies regarding animal feeding and invasive species. They also cite the issue of animal abandonment as a concern.

However, the approximately 200 feral cats have become beloved by both tourists and locals alike. Many residents view their displacement as a symbol of broader changes happening in Old San Juan, where rising costs and the influx of short-term rentals and vacation homes are displacing longtime residents.

While some residents appreciate the cats, others have expressed concerns about their impact on sanitation. One resident cited the accumulation of cat excretions as a health hazard.

The nonprofit organization Save a Gato, which has been working to sterilize and care for the Old San Juan cats for nearly two decades, was tasked with finding homes for approximately 170 cats. If they failed to do so, the park service planned to hire a company to remove the cats.

Concerned that the cats could be euthanized, opponents of the park service's plan have taken legal action. Alley Cat Allies, a Maryland-based advocacy organization, filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that the plan violates the National Environmental Protection Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Despite the ongoing legal challenge, the park service has moved forward with its plan to hire contractors to remove the remaining cats. Save a Gato has successfully placed 50 cats in homes since last November, with roughly half of them currently in the process of being placed.

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Round userpic of the post author Matzomaster
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May 21, 2023 | 05:09