| Sunday mealtime at the NGO-run animal hospital in Behala, where the rescued cats have found a haven. Picture by Aranya Sen
The strays, mostly cats, rounded up from the four hospitals in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) clean-hospital drive, have found a haven in the animal homes run by NGOs like Calcutta Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) and Love-N-Care for Animals.
Seven cats have been sent to the care of the CSPCA, while more than 50, rounded up from SSKM, Vidyasagar, Uttarpara General, Budge Budge and Bongaon hospitals, have found asylum at the NGO-run animal hospital at Behala. “The influx has shot up the daily running costs of the organisations,” said CSPCA superintendent I.B. De and Sushmita Roy of Love-N-Care for Animals.
According to Roy, the cats are consuming 15 kg of fish a day. At least 15 per cent of them are in the grip of melancholia because of the change in habitat, Roy added, and they are being served live tilapias, also known as American koi.
“We have no cat asylum. The clean-up drives at the hospitals forced us to take in the helpless, driven-out felines on compassaionate grounds. We had to convert part of the second floor of our hospital building into a home for them,” she said.
A special room has been constructed for them to sleep in at night because cats are susceptible to cold and viral diseases if kept out at night. Every morning, they are brought out into the sun and sent back to their ‘room’ in the evening. “We had brought along 10 kittens, too, from the hospitals, but some local women adopted them as pets,” Roy said.
Apart from the cats, the hospital houses two monkeys rescued from Moinagarh and Raidighi, two langurs from villages of Hooghly and a two-year-old horse that was brought back from the Maidan.
The monthly cost of running the hospital, Rs 8,000 five years ago, has shot up to Rs 50,000 and threatens to spiral further with the influx of more animals rescued from different areas.
The organisation receives a grant from the central government for sterilising dogs. The rest of the funds come from corporate-sector firms like BSNL, several jewellery houses and businessmen. Roy, herself an assistant engineer in the state irrigation department, has to dig into her monthly salary quite often to maintain the hospital.