Cambrils Visit – May 2010

On my last trip to Spain, I went armed with a list of ‘cats-to-do’ but as is the way with animals, things don’t always go to plan!

I had heard that Luigi needed  a female cat to be spayed where she lived out of the town in a remote spot with some of the cats who had been moved for their own safety plus others who had been dumped. We had already neutered some but this was a female kitten who was now at risk from the males who had not yet been done. We were having difficulty in communicating with the woman who fed them and every time we made long winded arrangements and careful plans, she would not be there when we arrived. It was very frustrating as it was time that we could ill afford to waste and could have been spent on catching and neutering other cats of which there were so many-this was just one cat! One cat leads to hundreds of other cats though so in it’s own way was very important indeed. The last thing needed in that precarious environment was another litter of kittens. I had to get on with other things so I left safe cat baskets there outside her little shack and kept my fingers crossed that she would get in touch!

I visited Tarragona Cathedral as I always worry about the friendly sweet one eyed cat there who had kittens last time. Unfortunately, without a car, it is too far away for me to get her neutered myself-I had been trying to contact a local group to no avail.

I had read about the recent poisonings at the Ramblas nearby. There have been some horrific acts of cruelty in Tarragona in the past and ongoing. I couldn’t see her and straight away I knew something had happened. I spoke to someone who feeds them and I can’t even write down what she told me as it too upsetting-all I will say is that the church should be a place of safety for humans and animals and it is clearly far from it. I still cannot get what I heard out of my mind and never will. There were more cats and kittens there and they were too in danger. I gave the feeder information about the local group and hoped she would have better luck. She took my email too but I never heard from her….I will look for her next time.

Back in Cambrils, on visiting all the usual kitty haunts, I met the friendliest black tom cat who had a most terrible flesh exposing wound behind his front leg but he was in such good spirits that after a big cuddle he dashed off to have a fight with another tom, who had actually been neutered-they were rolling around in the middle of the road and nearly got run over-what a drama-he was immediately added to the priority list.

The boatyard cats-all neutered and happy.
The boatyard cats – all neutered and happy.

Also on my list were the remaining two boy cats at the boatyard and the ginger and white who had been a little kitten on our trip four months previously. The boys were there and all the cats who we had neutered before but no ginger and white-nobody seemed to remember which cat I was talking about so he must have been long gone-hopefully, he just moved on although I don’t see why he would unless he was seen off by the big daddy cat there.

I’m certain I saw the shy tabby near our apartment who I had neutered and spoon fed last time but every time I went in hot pursuit after him, he ran faster! I know it was him though-he had always been such a scaredy cat.

The cats in the Parc del Pescador are an ongoing problem as they are virtually all neutered now except for one mum and her now growing daughter. Unfortunately, there were now three more kittens too. I could not work out how to trap the two females as they keep a low profile during the day while there are lots of people around. They needed to be sorted out so badly but I just could not work out how as they would need to be hungry to go in the trap and there was no way I would be able to persuade the feeder not to feed them. She comes at night but she doesn’t seem to be keen on me neutering them all. I can never quite understand what she is saying in Spanish but I think she is saying that the cats will not catch mice if they are neutered…..why that is of any major importance in a park, I don’t know but never mind!

Parc del Pescador cats feeding time.
Parc del Pescador cats feeding time.

It is always lovely to see the tortoiseshell female who was the mother of many before I caught her and had her sterilised. She is so shy with people but always seems to remember me and runs alongside me until we have a massive stroking session!

Park tortoiseshell always comes to see me!.
Park tortoiseshell always comes to see me!.

The cats at the harbour are thriving although I definitely need to try to take Rodrigo to the vets next time as he dribbles so much when he sees me, I think his mouth and teeth need to be checked. I did give a haircut to old Dolly as she is now so chubby she can’t wash herself properly and is getting humps of fur on her back like a camel-she was a good client and didn’t wriggle too much nor mind her new unusual style!

We continued to drive to the countryside location where we trying to catch the vulnerable female but the feeder was never there even when we had made plans. After much fruitless to-ing and fro-ing, I was nearly ready to give up but I suddenly had a call from Luigi. The feeder had turned up outside his shop in a big fluster beeping her horn with the female plus a male in the back of her car. Hurrah!  We had to quickly make a flurry of calls including to the vet who said we could take them there straight away-phew!

The 'countryside two' neutered this time.
The ‘countryside two’ neutered this time.

Luigi also said he would help me with transport to the vets for the park cats which was such a relief. I never hire a car when I’m there as it is expensive but in future I may have to do so as it is difficult asking other people for help and it gets so complicated! Also, the vets is a fair drive away in L’Hospitalet and takes a lot of organisation. It is worth the trek though as Marcel the vet is so caring and accommodating and also gives good discounts. I can get no discount in Cambrils which proves very costly indeed at 120 euros per spay.

It rained most of the next day which scuppered any chance of trapping cats but at about 9pm I armed myself with all my equipment including trap, cage and pilchards and went to try my luck in the short time between the park-goers leaving and the feeder arriving. I set the trap up and all the cats came out. I caught one female and  almost caught the other then suddenly the feeder arrived and upset the apple-cart! She started putting out food and trying to ‘help’ but nearly ruined the whole operation-it was like a scene from a comedy farce but in the end I won her round and I actually managed to catch the other one. Although she had a little trolley on wheels which would have been so useful to get them back to the apartment and I was asking if she knew where I could get a taxi as I couldn’t carry all the equipment plus the trap and cage now laden with cats, I had run out of luck and had to struggle puffing and panting, (and muttering under my breath!) along the road with a very heavy and meowing load! I was so thrilled to have done it against all odds and at the last minute too as it was the last possible chance we had to get them to the vets the next day.

The next day brought a big storm which also meant no electric. We had to drop off and collect at the vets and due to having one less basket than we needed, because the other two cats needed to stay in two for recovery after the operations, I did something I would never recommend, in fact I would absolutely advise against it-I sat in the car with one cat in an open cardboard box! Thankfully, I knew he was a cool and relaxed boy otherwise I would never have attempted such a thing. We dropped them off at their countryside ‘home’ and the lady who feeds them was delighted.

Finally, we collected the neutered park females but as I was flying back at the crack of dawn the next morning and as they needed to stay indoors overnight to recover, Luigi kindly offered to keep them in his shop for the night and drive them up to the park to release them the next day.

This update only really covers a few cats that I dealt with but there were many more. On my trips, I am always limited by time therefore there are always compromises to be made. Priorities change daily with the highest priority always being to spay females to prevent yet more unwanted kittens born onto the streets where there is danger around every corner. Some cats who are earmarked for treatment slip down the list as more urgent cases emerge but I try to do my best for as many cats as possible. I had wanted to get the injured black male to the vets for treatment to his wound and to be neutered but there was not enough time or baskets. I didn’t want to leave him untreated so I injected him in the street with long acting antibiotic and hoped that a little help was better than none. I did hear that he was doing well and I hope to sort him out next time I am there which is coming up very soon. I have already heard though that there are many more cats in his area including kittens so who knows what awaits me? Wish me luck!

The injured black cat after injection.
The injured black cat after injection.

As usual, please feel free to contact me via with any queries or suggestions. Feedback is always welcome.

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