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Cats & Dogs in Gambia

Few Gambian people own the dogs seen roaming the streets, and they are generally poorly treated (or simply ignored) because touching them is seen by Muslims as an unclean act. Cats are similar as they are rarely kept as pets, gangs of them can be seen hanging around the various hotels, begging for food. It is unwise to pet stray dogs and unfamiliar cats due to the risk of rabies, not to mention the more likely risk of contracting a disease like ringworm.

An interesting fact about cats is that their local name, "muus" also means wise.

Local Conditions:
Beach dogs have an insecure life in The Gambia. While the tourist season lasts they are put up with around most of the ocean side bars and get a little water, food and maybe worming medication from anxious tourists.

A central feeding point for cats is at the Kombo Beach Hotel called the Cat Cafe. Some of these people sometimes contact a charity called GambiCats which has been in working in The Gambia since 1998. They organise humane neutering or vet treatment for these stray animals and are concerned about improving their general welfare.

Off-season however, the local treatment of dogs is very different. The animals drift away from the beach as there are no longer easy pickings. However, cats tend to fair a little better as most houses tolerate feral cats whom which leftovers from lunch are frequently fed to. This is often dictated by the Islamic custom which says that one should never throw away food.

The local practice is not to neuter cats and doges but to leave them to wonder freely while being subjected to occasional stoning, poisoning, becoming victims of road kill, bad health and starvation.

The government department who care charged with controlling the numbers of dogs and cats is the Abuko based Livestock Services Departments or DLS for short.

Another notable organisation in animal welfare is the Association for the Welfare of Animals in The Gambia (AWAG). It was established in 1999 as a registered animal charity whose aims are threefold.

(1) To promote better quality of care for animals and to alleviate suffering where necessary by providing veterinary assistance and through local education programmes.

(2) To raise official awareness about the plight of animals and their local environment.

(3) To participate in the improvement of better legislation and assisting in its local enforcement.

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