PARUNG, INDONESIA (CNA) – Indonesian Dita Agusta converted her one-storey family home in the semi-rural area of Parung into a shelter for stray and abandoned cats five years ago.
Since founding her cause, the mother of three has heard of every possible excuse for pet owners to give up their feline companions.
“There were people who gave up their cats because of their neighbours, because they moved to a new house which doesn’t allow pets, disagreement between newly-weds, disagreement between parents and their children, or simply because they could no longer afford to keep the pets around,” she told CNA.
The number of people who gave up their cats to the shelter has increased significantly because of COVID-19. “Before the pandemic, 80 per cent of the cats here were rescued strays. Now, I would say it’s 50 (per cent stray), 50 (per cent domesticated cats),” she said.
Every week, Rumah Kucing Parung would welcome five to 10 newcomers, straining the 644sqm shelter which also doubles as Agusta’s family home.
“Meanwhile, the donation has dwindled because of COVID-19. Everyone is affected,” she said, adding that the money the shelter receives today is barely enough to buy food and medication for the cats. She has to pay the salary for the six staffers employed at the shelter out of her own pocket.
With so many newcomers arriving each week, Agusta has lost count of the number of cats in the shelter.
“More than 300,” she estimated.
Agusta, her husband and their three children occupy an 80sqm space which they share with a handful of their own cats.
Their front porch is dedicated to newcomers and those which need special attention, including one former stray cat which was recovering from an eye cancer surgery. There are also kittens, thrown away on the streets and abandoned, which have a variety of injuries and infections.
It can take up to two weeks for newcomers to adjust to life in the shelter, Agusta said, and the majority of their time is spent in a cage. After they grow accustomed to their new environment, the cats are then transferred inside where they have to learn how to live with hundreds of other felines.
With the exception of those which require special care and a few troublemakers, the cats are free to roam the semi-enclosed backyard, shaded by long canopies which provide protection from the sun and rain and prevent the felines from climbing out of the shelter.