Rayong Prison officials have dropped plans to rid the penitentiary of hundreds of stray cats, saying feline inmates’ impact on rodent populations and prisoners’ moods offsets any health risk.
As part of his prison-wide cleanup initiative, Warden Thanat Hrikanbanchon had ordered employees to catch the cats running wild on the grounds and give them to local temples and animal-rescue organizations. But after workers managed to corner only a fraction of the kitty population, he called off the chase.
Warden Thanat Hrikanbanchon inspects one of the many cats, as inmates make their case to keep them.
While pets are supposed to be as prohibited as mobile phones, drugs and weapons, stray cats have made themselves an integral part of inmates’ lives, and are generally well taken care of. They also keep the rat population down, officials said.
Cats have a long history at Rayong Prison, with local legend espousing that, during its construction, a male cat with a beckoning tail and a female with a long tail nested in a drainage pipe and bred hundreds of “lucky” kittens.
While he said that while plans to ship out the kitties to temples has been dropped, anyone wanting pets is welcome to take as many cats as they want. Call 038-637-760 for more information.