Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shelter for cats in Bali

kitten shelter rescue bali
A kitten awaits adoption at Villa Kitty in Bali.

This year I was fortunate enough to visit Bali, and wrote this article about a recently opened cat shelter, Villa Kitty.

Any Australian who has holidayed in Bali knows about its famous street dogs. Organisations such as the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) and the Bali Dog Adoption Rehabilitation Centre (BARC) have been established to improve the welfare of these animals and adopt them to loving homes.

Until recently there was no dedicated facility for Bali’s stray feline population. Yet the island’s cat population has to contend with significant challenges: motorcycles and cars in narrow streets, street dogs who see them as a meal ticket, pythons (also known for targeting well cared for domestic pets), and human neglect.

Vaccination is uncommon, and canine parvovirus is rife, creating the perfect window for infectious diseases such as feline panleucopaenia virus to emerge as a significant threat. Kittens are often orphaned at a young age, leaving them extremely vulnerable to the ravages of intestinal parasites and severe respiratory disease.

Villa Kitty, established in March 2011 by Australian expatriate Elizabeth Henzell, is a dedicated sanctuary for Bali’s vulnerable feline population. While other animal welfare organisations have always tried to assist cats in need, Villa Kitty hopes to fill an enormous gap.
kitten rescue shelter bali
The cats and kittens at Villa Kitty are absolutely beautiful and ready to adopt into awesome homes.
A veterinary clinic, lead by Dr Karnata and associates Isa Ghautama and Magri Nora, is attached to the shelter. Despite housing over 100 cats and kittens, the facilities are cool, clean and far removed from the chaos of the busy streets just metres away.

“We have capacity for 50 healthy cats and kittens in our original building which has the Rainbow room for our fully vaccinated and sterilised cats, our three small West Wing rooms for vaccinated kittens that are still too young to be sterilised and our Maderson Wing maternity runs for our mother cats and their kittens,” Henzell said.

“The Molly Parr Wing is our quarantine building which is made up of 3 rooms divided into two runs each and one large room for the tiny kittens that need to be held in cages until they are in a better state to put them in the runs.”
One of the biggest challenges in running this shelter is the low rate of vaccination in the community, coupled with the high population turnover (in December 2012 the shelter admitted 43 new cats or kittens in less than four weeks).

The hospital is divided into wings for cats suffering from gastrointestinal disease, and another for cats with respiratory signs.

According to Dr Karnata, the most common problems seen are the typical scourges of cat shelters worldwide: flu, diarrhoea and ringworm. Trauma is extremely common, with fractured spines and eye injuries necessitating enucleation particularly frequent.

“We would love to set up a sponsored program to provide sterilisation for cats and kittens of families who cannot otherwise afford this,” Henzell said. “At present we cannot afford this but we are seeking sponsorship to do so.”
Bali statue
A Balinese statue. Nope, it isn't a cat or kitten. But it is from Bali!
Australian’s spending any length of time in Bali can assist by fostering kittens or volunteering as kitty cuddlers. Donations of food and bedding are always welcome.

The Indonesian Government imposes strict regulations which limit international veterinarians from volunteering their veterinary skills. However, while Australian veterinarians cannot perform surgery or provide hands-on treatment to animals, provision of services in a consultancy capacity is still very helpful.

Villa Kitty is backed by an Australian philanthropist but relies heavily on private donations. To make a donation, email Elizabeth at elizabeth@villakittybali.com or check out their Facebook page.