Population of cats and Lassa fever concerns in Nigeria

By Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM | January 31st, 2018

We were just discussing cats and dogs in the clinic this morning and I asked some of my staff what they feel when they see cats or about cats in general? The young man said that he kind of dislikes cats for their nonchalant attitude towards humans unlike dogs that are friendlier. The lady said that they are seriously associated with witches. I asked her how she got to know about that and she said she has heard stories. I asked her if she believed the stories. She said yes and I asked her: “if someone told another person that you are a witch and the person believes it will you be happy?” She said: “No!” I then told her it’s the same with what cats are suffering.

Further in the discussion the young man said that he thinks cats are more in number than dogs and made reference to an area close to his residence - a trash heap area. He said the cats there are over 2000 (two thousand) by estimation. The lady said she thinks that cats are less in number because she hardly sees them the way she tends to see dogs all over the place. The question I asked is: “Do you think cats love to be seen by everyone the way dogs do?” The young man interjected and said that cats will rather hide in fear of being stoned or kicked by passerby.

If we try to go by clinical records to ascertain the population of cats in contrast to dogs in Nigeria we will get it wrong because from my own experience majority of cats live outside homes or human care. These animals seem to be more independent than dogs that they can totally survive on their own. They hunt and feed themselves and they can hide in areas that have little human patronage to form a certain colony.

Why do these cats hide most of the time? Is it because they are mostly maltreated by people or because they are created to be independent? I guess all the above applies to their behavior in this regard.

There are over 100 breeds of cat popular in the other parts of the world just like the numerous breeds of dogs but this diversity is scarcely patronized in Nigeria. This points to the fact that cats do not enjoy the level of care dog do enjoy in Nigeria. It doesn’t remove the fact that cats might be more in number than dogs in Nigeria because survival is something these local cats have exhibited undoubtedly.

Many Nigerians, realize the importance of these animals as a biological control for rodent especially now that Lassa fever disease is dominating the news as a deadly killer disease. Many Nigerians that use to hate the cat due to many believes and phobia now see them as lifesaving animals. There is simply an increase in the keeping of cats as pets in Nigeria now than ever before. I made this assumption due to the increase of cats in our clinical records in recent times.

Let me state specifically that many cat owners in Nigeria don’t actually keep them as pets but as control for rodents except a few Nigerians mainly from the Northern region of the country who actually prefer cats to dogs as pets.

You might have your reasons to believe that cats are more in number than dogs or vice versa. Please share your opinion in the comment section. Thank you.


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    Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM

    Founder of Fairvet Animal Clinic Ltd since 2011, studied at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He is well experienced in small animal, large animal & poultry medicine, and also skilled at zoo medicine. He loves animals and builds both professional and personal relationship with pet owners in order to sustain a good interaction with pet and animal owners, coupled with His great skills in programming; he brought about www.fairvet.com which he personally built from scratch.

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