Cats loitering around patients’ beds and even sharing food with people are a common sight at several civic-run hospitals in Mumbai and the city’s biggest civic hospital, King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital in Parel, is no exception. Though some patients or their relatives occasionally enjoy the company of such strays, their presence often proves to be an inconvenience, besides posing health hazards.
The cats can be seen walking on patients’ beds, lounging in the washrooms or searching the garbage bins at the hospital and its premises. Mushkan Abedi Sheikh, who was admitted to the gynaecology ward at the hospital, said: “At night, I was sleeping on my bed when a cat jumped on my bed and started licking me, which freaked me out as I am allergic to cat fur and I had undergone a Caesarean surgery two days ago. I didn’t want to contract any infection.”
Another patient from the orthopaedic department complained that the unhygienic cats often urinate inside wards, triggering a foul smell and perhaps even leading to health issues. “I have one cat, so I am quite fond of it. But I am not comfortable sleeping with the odour as I am already in pain from a broken leg,” said Ashok Deshmukh, 29, who is recovering after a motorbike accident.
In 2019, KEM Hospital made national headlines after a cat was spotted dragging out a foetus from a unit where biomedical waste was stored.
The hospital staff, however, blame the patients for petting and feeding the cats. “They give leftover food to these cats after which the felines start coming regularly to the ward,” a nurse at the hospital said.
With the help of volunteers, the cats are occasionally caught, sterilised and put up for adoption, but this has hardly proved to be a solution as stray cats keep entering the hospital from nearby areas for breeding.
Dean of the hospital Dr Sangeeta Rawat acknowledged the issue and said they are in the process of collaborating with an NGO to sterilise the cats. “As per the law, we cannot just relocate the cats. So, we generally sterilise them through proper means to control the population,” she explained.
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Rupsa ChakrabortyRupsa Chakraborty, is a special correspondent with The Indian Express'… read more
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