Saturday, December 5, 2009

So Your Town is a Cat Town!!!!

We had a visitor a while back who made the observation that Plovdiv is a "Cat Town". This, of course is opposed to being a "Dog Town". I had never paid much attention to the animal population but his observation raised my curiosity. It didn't take long to see what he was talking about. Mike and I had both already experienced a quick rise in blood pressure when a cat or two unexpectedly came flying at face level out of the dumpsters positioned at the edge of the street as we walked by. The dumpsters are their feeding grounds and there can be a half a dozen at a time in the vicinity of one dumpster. I wonder if cats are territorial? They come in all shapes and sizes, pretty and ugly, but nothing about them makes me want to take one home. They can of course be found almost anywhere, not just hanging around the dumpsters waiting for their next meal.

A November 2009 survey of stray animals in the city reports 7,623 cats and only 686 dogs. Whether the numbers are accurate or not, the ratio probably is. The advantage of being a "Cat Town" is that cats are not nearly as bothersome as dogs (at least in my opinion). Sofia on the other hand appears to be a "Dog Town" as was Varshets (our training site), but the worst place I have personally experienced stray dogs was the mountain village where we spent our first three nights in Bulgaria. I really did not like walking past the many dogs that laid claim to the area around the hotel no matter how often we were told "oh, the dogs are not a problem!" I'm always afraid in this kind of setting of the pack mentality developing quickly.

This whole stray cat and dog thing is reflective of "government at work" or perhaps "not at work". There have been programs of mass euthanasia to try to eradicate the problem , but they have since been outlawed. Here in Plovdiv there is currently a "catch, neuter and release" program, but many argue it is not aggressive enough. Add to the stray problem the irresponsible owner problems particularly of "latch-key" dogs, who are free to roam and come home at the end of the day!

I don't spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about the cats and dogs here in Plovdiv, but it is just one more part of city living that I have not previously experienced. Adaptability is the key here! I have learned to either walk behind or give a wide birth to the dumpsters particularly if it is after dusk!!!!!


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