Stray Cats and Dogs in Thailand

The cats & dogs of Thailand!

Our furry friends from around the globe come in many shapes & sizes.
The cats & dogs of Thailand have an understanding of one another, as do the locals of them.
The dogs scout about in happy go lucky packs, going about their day in their own very own tail wagging underworld!

A stray dog epidemic hit Thailand well over a decade ago & since then many charities have worked hard to assist the situation.
Vast improvements have been made by castrating dogs every week, preventing the over population of strays.
This task isn’t easy as catching a stray dog can prove very difficult, at times it’s dangerous! But none the less the charity workers persist.

The costs of castrations are covered by the local authorities IF a certain number (target) is hit each week, if there are too few dogs being taken in, the charity must front the full amount. This is somewhat of a double ended sword.

Beyond the castrations, charities work hard to ensure the safety, the health & the day to day care of the endless strays, street dogs are everywhere you look in Thailand.
Some look OK, some are from it. In need of a good bath & some tender loving care.

Temple dogs

As Thailand is abundant in temples, which often come hand in hand with shelter & scattered food offerings; street dogs create packs there. Packs of temple dogs will become known to the monks, sort of an unwritten adoption or fostering takes place. The temple monks will sometimes have the phone number of a local charity,
calling upon them if they notice an injured or sick dog, they accept them into the grounds & assist in the feeding, just keeping an eye.

Charities work around the clock to collect & treat sick dogs, taking them into their shelters or even their own homes, treating them & then returning the dog to where it was collected so it can return to his or her pack.

Occasionally, a temple pack may decide they don’t want any visitors, voicing their wishes, it’s been known for temple dogs to see off tourists from their turf!
Don’t be put off though, there are hundreds of extremely cute, welcoming dogs & puppies awaiting your arrival & will shower you in love!

Re-homing strays

Re-homing stray dogs in Thailand is a very hard practice. Not only because of the vast number of strays, but just because stray, mixed breed dogs are not appealing to the locals.
You’ll see pedigrees & fancy dogs with owners, but not the scruffy, rough around the edges kind.
Re-homing through charities often involves exporting the dogs to Europe, this is a long & costly process.
So, the best the charities can do, is look after the sick dogs, treat the route cause by castrating & wait for the occasional re-homing opportunity to arise.

Animal cafes

Thailand knows how to connect with its tourists. We are all suckers for our furry friends! Dog, Cat & even Rabbit cafes are popping up all over the country in tourist areas.
These unique hang outs provide a top up on the cuteness requirement at the same time as stopping for a refreshment!

One dog café, Ketawa, based in Chiang Mai, has a selection of pedigree dogs to play with in a separate area, these adorable pups will smother you in love before you indulge in some incredible food or drink!
There is even a store, providing a selection of high end dog toys, clothing & snacks!
The cafe area is incredibly hygienic, as the animals are in a separate area. With air-conditioning & quality food, this is a real pooch palace!

Pai, located in Northern Thailand, is home to a rabbit café! Enjoy a drink whilst the rabbits hop about. Pet the floppy eared furries & relax in this very sweetly unique hang out.

Bangkok homes a growing number of Cat cafes, varying from Persian breeds to mixed, long hair & short hair. If you are a cat lover, you’ll be spoilt for choice in cattery cafes!

Should I approach a stray dog?

It’s best not to, as you just don’t know the dog’s history, its temperament or its state of health. Save the petting for the animal cafes.
Friendly dogs will do the approaching, if they want your attention they will come for it. Puppies for example, may come running up for human attention if it’s what they are used to!
Getting bitten by a stray dog is uncommon, yet carries serious risk, especially if you haven’t taken a rabies shot.

What do I do if I see an injured animal?

If you spot a sick or injured animal, track down the details of the nearest charity. Most popular tourist areas will have one. Give them a call to report what you’ve seen & the location.
Use your best judgement as to whether you can assist without putting yourself in danger. Can you safely make the animal more comfortable, provide warmth, shelter or food?

How do they survive as strays?

Stray cats & dogs are surprisingly well fed! It’s rare to see dogs overly skinny, they just look a little dirty & rough around the edges!
Locals will leave food out, charities will do food drops & scraps are plentiful!

Stray animals are usually born into that life, so they quickly learn the ropes of street life & as a result are extremely hardy characters!

With the temperature as hot as it is & armed with a fur coat, they don’t get cold & can always find shelter.
It’s normal to see the dogs taking a snooze in the middle of the side walk, or even in the road!
The locals do tend to unofficially take ownership of a stray, providing regular meals & some much needed love.

Local love
The locals take a particularly kind warmth to the stray cats, often an establishment, be in a hostel or a restaurant, will have a mascot cat, a regular that has claimed its spot!
Again, just like the temple dogs, the cat will claim its turf, seeing off unwanted visitors (other cats, not humans!) & will get petted, fed & watered by the establishment, an unofficial home!
Cat scraps will often occur when an intruder feline steps onto the taken turf.

Tourists & locals will pay the cats plenty of attention, giving them the love they deserve!
Just like the stray dogs, they don’t come without hygiene risks, so be sure to wash your hands if you’ve touched them. Cats are known for their cleanliness but you just don’t know what they’ve been exposed to.

Watch out for the doggy highway code!
Street dogs are pretty street savvy, but from time to time they abide by their own rules, stepping out into the road & causing a sudden swerve or brake by the traffic to avoid a collision!
For this reason, keep your eyes peeled for dogs when driving, just as you do for other hazards on the roads of Thailand.

The other tendency they have, is to bark at & even chase mopeds! Although this can be a little entertaining, it’s really quite dangerous & a little unsettling when you think about why they may be behaving in that way.
With some parts of Thailand having heavy traffic, collisions with dogs can be common, some leaving lasting damage, not just physically, but mentally too!
So when a dog sees or hears a moped whizzing past, it can become a natural defence to bark or chase the ‘threat’.
This can be a little scary for the driver as having a dog chase you unexpectedly can be dangerous!

Why do Thai cats have half, bent, or deformed tails?
They are born this way! It’s a genetic defect that has been passed down through generations. Now it has become more common for a Thai cat to have an irregular tail than to have a straight one!
Sometimes, pedigree cats with such deformities in the tail can be worth a lot of money.
It has become somewhat sought after! A blessing & considered lucky!

How do I offer my assistance through an animal charity?
Charities will LOVE your assistance, one website ‘Workaway’, has many host charities registered,
this is a safe & seamless way to find charities that are local to where you’d like to be. It will be a free experience, that in some cases will offer you free accommodation for your time.
Other charities will require a contribution towards accommodation & food.

Going on recommendations is always a smart move, get active in social media groups & scout out the places being talked about!

In summary,
be prepared to see A LOT of cats & dogs when visiting Thailand, from scruffy strays to pedigree chums!
Hanging out with the locals, scouting about in packs, chilling in the streets & sleeping in bizarre places.
Most of the animals seem fairly content but there IS sadness to be witnessed too.
Knowing the phone number for the local animal charity is a morally sound precaution & action to take, just in case you do spot a poorly pooch or injured cat,
being able to pin drop a location to assist in a rescue is a nice action to take, you’ll sleep well knowing you did the best you could.
Most hostels or hotels should be able to assist with the contact numbers. Failing that, use search engines or local social media groups.

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