Summer has whizzed by in a big blur of animals, both here and abroad! It is has been quite some time since the last report although there have been two action packed trips to Spain since then…..and another one fast approaching.
In March, we met up in Spain with our friends from Progat Cambrils for the first time. When we first started sterilising the cats in Cambrils, we knew there were individuals who were trying to help the cats but it was difficult to make contact with them as they normally fed them under cover of darkness. Some people object to the stray cats and it is often best not to draw attention. However, when Progat Cambrils started, they were out in the open and speaking up in defence of the cats and dogs and spreading the word about the importance of sterilisation as a compassionate way of controlling the street animals. This is something we have always advocated as the only effective and humane way. Progat publicise this in the media as much as possible. While I was there, they invited me to a meeting where we discussed an upcoming piece on the television where they would show the procedure of trapping a street cat and sterilising it. This has since been aired and they have also been in the newspapers and on the radio. They have been trying to liaise with the local government to promote more responsibility and to discuss ways of working together to ensure that the strays have a better life. It is very difficult but things will not change unless people speak out against some of the abuses or ignorance. Progat are looking after many cats and dogs who had been abused on the streets.
We visited all the usual haunts to check on the cats who we had treated or sterilised and I met another feeder who looks after the cats in the park where I had previously neutered a few cats including the main female. During the time when I was trapping and neutering, I didn’t bump into her at all as again, she goes around feeding at night.
When we returned in June, we, (that’s me and my mum) managed to get a lot done but we had to start trapping at 6 in the morning for a number of reasons, the main one being that the less people there were around to meddle, the better! Also, it was better to try to catch them before the heat of the day got too much and sent cats, (and trappers) scurrying for shade. The cats were also slightly hungrier then and more likely to go in the trap…in theory! We were introduced to a wonderful vet Marcel, who is a true animal lover. I cannot underestimate the impact he made. Nothing was too much trouble for him. We turned up each day without much notice and he was not at all phased by hissing, spitting feral cats which he sterilised and treated with great serenity and a smile on his face…..and at a bargain price. It was quite a journey to reach him as he was in another town but it was worth the drive and we were lucky enough to find our own personal driver, Jose Luis, who feeds a cat colony in the area and stepped in to help. Each evening we went back to collect the feline patients who we then allowed to recover indoors until they were released a day or two later.
Our main focus on this trip was on the boatyard where we had neutered some cats before and we intended to neuter as many as possible. I was thrilled to finally get all the females sterilised including the main matriarch, Mimi, who had borne countless litters. Just two males managed to slip the net, so to speak, which was a real shame as one is such a butch fellow and quite the ‘big daddy’ round there, literally. Mimi adores him-they are like a married couple! He really does rule the roost and unfortunately, the other male who we couldn’t catch, is the one who he bullies and terrorises the most. It is a pity we couldn’t have slowed down all those racing hormones and macho posturing but we will try again next time.
One of the cats who had been there in March and who I had earmarked for spaying seems to have vanished. I don’t like to think about what might have happened. There was no reason for her to have moved on as they are quite a strong family unit with a good food source and somewhat cut off from the rest of the town. I have found dead cats there before and I am worried about the food they are given as there are often lethal looking fish bones in it but the feeder thinks they will be fine. It is difficult to get the message across that this is very dangerous. Just as we were about to return to London, we noticed a little kitten in the skip at the boatyard-it was obviously from Mimi’s last litter and born in there but the man who feeds them hadn’t thought to mention it……as if we wouldn’t have been interested!
I was also delighted to catch a very shy and elusive tabby who we had seen near our apartment on previous trips and almost caught once but before until a passer by had poked their nose in and frightened him off. He is always alone and seems frightened by other cats as well as people but hopefully now he is neutered, he will be accepted by other cats. He was painfully thin and when he came round from the operation, he was so ravenous, he forgot his shyness and ate sardines from a spoon I offered him through the bars of the basket. When I released him, his wildness returned and he flew out of the basket like a rocket not stopping until he was far enough away to lick his nether regions in peace!
It was lovely to see how well some of the cats looked who we had neutered before. Their lives are much improved and they look so healthy and carefree. In contrast, just after our return we found out that neighbours of our friends at Progat had tried to poison their cats and dogs. It is hard to imagine the sort of person that would carry out such a cruel and cowardly act but unfortunately, it is all too common.
We must stay positive and remember that although there are some very bad people around, there are also many good ones who make everything worthwhile.
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