Relocation of Stray Cats from Historic Puerto Rican Site Announced

by Michael Nguyen
Puerto Rico Stray Cats

Relocation of Stray Cats from Historic Puerto Rican Site Announced

The U.S. National Park Service has announced a plan to relocate approximately 200 stray cats inhabiting a 75-acre area surrounding a fortress within the San Juan National Historic Site, located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. This initiative, revealed on Tuesday, aims to address the mixed reactions these cats evoke among tourists and residents, balancing their charm with concerns about potential health risks.

An animal welfare organization will be commissioned to undertake the cat removal process. The Park Service has set a six-month deadline for this task, with the possibility of contracting a separate removal agency if the deadline is not met.

The cats, varying in size, color, and temperament, are a familiar sight along the seaside paths near the 16th-century El Morro fortress. Their presence is a legacy tracing back to colonial times and an initiative by a former San Juan Mayor to control rat populations. Over time, the cats have proliferated, attracting both admiration and criticism from locals and visitors.

Save a Gato, a nonprofit group currently caring for these cats, is a potential candidate for executing the removal plan. However, Ana María Salicrup, a board member of the organization, expressed skepticism about the feasibility of the six-month timeline, hinting at the complexity of dealing with such a large feline population.

The issue of the cats at the historic site has been contentious. While some visitors and residents cherish their presence, federal officials have raised concerns about the growing population and its impact on visitor experiences and the site’s cultural landscape. In response, the Park Service conducted a hearing last year, presenting two options: cat removal or maintaining the status quo. The proposal to remove the cats faced significant opposition, with many attendees voicing their appreciation for the felines’ unique contribution to the charm of Old San Juan.

Danna Wakefield, a local resident, underscored the uniqueness of the cats to the area’s appeal, noting her weekly visits and personal fondness for several of them.

The Park Service’s plan also includes the removal of cat feeding stations and prohibits unauthorized feeding, citing concerns about attracting rats and encouraging abandonment of more cats in the area.

The selected animal welfare organization will decide the fate of the trapped cats, exploring options like adoption, fostering, or sheltering. Despite efforts by Save a Gato to find homes for these cats, including reaching out to sanctuaries in the U.S. mainland, the task remains daunting.

The National Park Service has indicated a willingness to extend the six-month deadline if significant progress is made, but will resort to hiring a removal agency if the plan does not progress as expected.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Puerto Rico Stray Cats

Why is the U.S. National Park Service removing stray cats from a historic site in Puerto Rico?

The U.S. National Park Service is removing approximately 200 stray cats from a 75-acre area surrounding a fortress within the San Juan National Historic Site to address health concerns and the impact of the cats on the cultural landscape and visitor experience.

What is the timeline for the removal of the cats in Puerto Rico’s historic site?

The Park Service has set a six-month deadline for an animal welfare organization to remove the cats. If the organization fails to achieve this, the Park Service plans to contract a separate removal agency.

How have local residents and visitors reacted to the removal plan of stray cats in Puerto Rico?

The reaction to the removal plan has been mixed. While some residents and visitors appreciate the cats and consider them an integral part of Old San Juan’s charm, others support their removal due to health concerns and the impact on the historic site.

What will happen to the cats after they are removed from the historic site in Puerto Rico?

The fate of the removed cats will be decided by the animal welfare organization chosen for the task. Options include adoption, fostering, sheltering, or other alternatives. However, finding homes for such a large number of cats is a significant challenge.

Has there been any opposition to the cat removal plan in Puerto Rico?

Yes, there has been significant opposition to the removal plan. Many locals and tourists enjoy the presence of the cats, and a hearing conducted by the Park Service showed overwhelming support for maintaining the status quo. Some describe the cats as a unique feature of Old San Juan.

More about Puerto Rico Stray Cats

  • Stray Cats in Puerto Rico
  • U.S. National Park Service Plans
  • Animal Welfare and Conservation Efforts
  • Save a Gato Organization
  • Historic Sites and Wildlife Management
  • Community Response to Cat Relocation
  • Urban Wildlife Management Practices
  • San Juan National Historic Site Information

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Maria Lopez November 29, 2023 - 4:23 am

I just can’t belive they’re gonna remove all these cats, they’re like part of the place now, right?

EcoWarrior November 29, 2023 - 5:34 am

it’s important to balance animal welfare with conservation, but isn’t there a better way to handle this?

SanJuanResident November 29, 2023 - 11:16 am

As someone living here, I can say some of us are actually relieved. It was getting out of hand honestly.

CatLover November 29, 2023 - 11:50 am

This is just sad, those cats are harmless, why can’t they just let them be?

John_Doe1975 November 29, 2023 - 11:00 pm

what about the historical value?? these cats have been there forever, seems harsh to just take them away.


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