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SPCA pounces on cats in hospital wards

SPCA's Inspector Mishack Matlou with one of the 14 cats that were caught at Mmametlhake Hospital.
SPCA's Inspector Mishack Matlou with one of the 14 cats that were caught at Mmametlhake Hospital.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

There was wild celebration at Mmametlhake Hospital in Mpumalanga as a team of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) arrived to capture cats that have become a nuisance to patients and staff.

The SPCA team arrived at lunch time yesterday as the cats gathered in wards to feed on patients' leftovers. But the cats dashed for exits as the team emerged with cages, traps and hand-held net scoops.

Field officer Solomon Skhosana, Inspector Andrew Kekana and Mishack Matlou had to retreat for the now-alert cats to regroup.

Traps were set in corridors and the team, with the help of staff, waited for their return and scooped up the first two cats in the male ward, while one escaped.

This scoop tactic proved effective as the cats struggled to run on the hospital's slippery floor. Within 15 minutes, the team had netted eight cats from female and male wards.

On Monday, Sowetan reported how the cats had unleashed a reign of terror at the hospital, grabbing food from patients and jumping on their beds.

"We have to be careful because these cats are not tamed and they can bite. So you must know what you are doing," Kekana said.

Patient Thomas Mangwane, 71, who is blind, said he suffered the most from the cats. He has been at the hospital for more than four months.

"I would hear people scream: 'a cat is eating your food.' But I cannot see it. I am glad they are removing them. We cannot sleep due to these cats," he said.

Image: Veli Nhlapo

But Timothy Naledi, 69, laying in the bed next to Mangwane's, said the SPCA must not remove all cats because they are beneficial as snakes and rats were also prevalent at the hospital. He said the hospital now had no rats, snakes or lizards because of the cats.

"If they remove all the cats, you will see snakes and rats. This is a rural area," Naledi said.

In total, the team caught 14 cats, with Kekana saying they would return as more cats got away. "We advised the hospital to control leftovers because that is their main source."

Mpumalanga health department spokesman Dumisani Malamule said the cats posed infection and allergy risks to patients. "People who have allergic reactions to fur might have a problem."

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