Stray cat centre appeals for help after fire wreaks havoc

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On 14 January 2011, a fire destroyed the Relief Centre of Stichting Amsterdamse Zwerfkatten, the organisation which helps improve the lives and control the number of stray-cats in Amsterdam and the surrounding area.

Nineteen cats died but luckily another seven were rescued and have since been taken to an animal clinic in Osdorp for care and observation. However, the premises have been destroyed and the organisation is without a shelter or equipment and in urgent need of assistance.

Founded in 1994, Stichting Amsterdamse Zwerfkatten aims to help the growing number of stray and feral cats living in the city and surrounding areas. Many of the cats they catch are abandoned or lost house-cats who are then either returned to their owners or re-housed through one of the Amsterdam animal shelters. In the summer, they also pick up a lot of kittens born out in the wild, which would otherwise be destined to a hard – and perhaps very short- life out on the streets.

A large number of cats can be found living outside in the communal gardens, parks and squares of Amsterdam. Some of these are former house-cats which have got lost or been abandoned, but a large number have been born outside. These cats suffer from poor health and are at risk from disease, such as FIV (a cat disease which can be likened to the human HIV virus). If they are left on the streets un-neutered they fight about food, territory or the desire to mate with one another and with the city's domestic cat population. They spray in the street and in people's houses or gardens when they gain access, and they reproduce, thus further exacerbating the problem.

Stichting Zwerfkatten Amsterdam catches as many of these cats as they can, and if the cat cannot be socialised or re-housed they use the TNR (Trap Neuter Return) method which is increasingly becoming known as the most cost-effective and efficient way to manage stray cat populations. Once the captured cat has been neutered and its health checked, they are returned to the colony or area where they were originally picked up. The cat can no longer reproduce, which also reduces the desire to fight or wander large areas. This improves the quality of their lives and their life expectancy. Many of these cats may later become more domestically-inclined and adopt a human companion who can offer them a warm home and regular food for the last years of their life.

But now the organisation faces a crisis. Although the seven surviving cats are doing well, Stichting Amsterdamse Zwerfkatten has lost its shelter, belongings and resources. The organisation is now homeless which makes their work extremely difficult. The cats still need their help and the organisation have continued to catch and assist cats since the fire broke out, but are urgently looking not only for a new home—albeit a temporary one, but for both financial and material assistance. On behalf of all the outside-living cats of Amsterdam, if you are able to donate money, please send this to giro number 6914 Stichting Amsterdamse Zwerfkatten in Amsterdam. If you wish to donate material goods to help the cats or perhaps have access to an area they can use temporarily, please contact

Further information (in Dutch) about the organisation can be found on their web-site: also have a Facebook page: .  Stray cats can be reported to the organisation either via email or by phone on 020 6190357.

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