US Navy accused of ‘disappearing’ cats in Spain

© Alex Grimm
A US Navy base in Spain has been accused of capturing stray cats in cages and has drawn suspicion for failing to explain the missing felines.

The Rota base in Spain’s Cadiz province has been luring feral cats into “cage traps,” according to a local animal shelter Siempre Contigo.

According to images shared online by the organization, the traps have signs which read, “US government property. Tampering or destruction is unlawful, under both Spanish and American law.”

Siempre Contigo’s Carmen de los Santos told the Local, “People who tried to open the cages to let the cats out were told there would be consequences… and the workers are outraged."

Siempre Contigo has been waiting to meet with the leaders of the base since March. In their communications they asked the base to suspend its captures until the meeting. They also provided information about the TNR method (capture-neuter-return), as an alternative to the possibility that the Navy is culling the cats.

In April, they received an email from the base which said, “All actions that are taking place inside the Naval Base affecting wildlife are made with authorization of the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucía," but received no further information about the fate of the captured cats.

In a petition, the shelter called for the base to stop threatening to block access to the base for workers who defended the cats. They point out that some of the cats fall into the traps while looking for food for their kittens, leaving “helpless litters” to fend for themselves.

Rota, a naval base fully funded by the the US, has hosted four American destroyers as part of NATO’s defensive ‘shield.’

While the idea of the US Navy luring cats into cages suggests an ominous fate for the furry creatures, according to the US Naval Institute, “sailors and cats have a special relationship that dates back thousands of years.”

Cats are a natural rat hunters on ships, and offer companionship at sea. The USNI’s website features a number of photographs of sailors and their cats spanning centuries.

However, the US military has used animals for testing and research. One Green Planet reports the Department of Defense stopped making its reports available to the public in 2007, but a number of defense studies using animal subjects have since come to light.

Animals are used in US medic trauma training, and radiation studies have been carried out to ascertain whether a mouse, beagle or primate would make a better subject for radiation testing.

PETA reports the US military “test all manner of weaponry on animals, from bombs to biological, chemical and nuclear agents.” In 1983 the organization protested the Army’s plan to “purchase dozens of dogs from animal shelters and shoot them on a firing range in Maryland.” The exposure led to a ban on the use of animals in wound treatment experiments in the US.

Meanwhile, Animal Ethics describe disturbing incidents of animals being fitted with explosives in both World Wars, and donkeys being used to carry explosives that are detonated remotely in the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama announced he will visit Spain in July, to “highlight robust security cooperation, a strong political and economic relationship, and longstanding people-to-people ties,” a White House statement said.