Sorry about the delay in bringing the latest news but I cannot catch up with myself-whenever I start my update, some animal problem or another comes along and eclipses everything!
There was a momentous day this Summer-Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting! Let’s hope that the rest of Spain and other countries that still permit this horrific and pathetic spectacle, follow suit. Hopefully, the hideous bull runs will also be stopped.
So far, this Summer, I have made three trips to Spain-one in May followed quickly by one in June which was necessary due to problems discovered in May which meant there were cats in great danger.
In May, when I arrived with Victor, it was my first visit since last November so there was a lot of running around to do and cats to check up on. First stop was the boatyard where there were still two males to neuter. Both looked a bit battered-the ginger male was very thin and crying at me-mind you, he always remembers that I bring sardines and he loves them!
The big black one had had some of his machismo knocked out of him as apparently, some time in Winter, he had a big fight with an outsider male cat and came off badly with injuries to his face and neck. He definitely didn’t look as tough as he usually did and appeared to have given up beating up the ginger one. I was really sad to hear that the sweet black and white male who I had neutered when he was just 4 months old, had been killed by a car-there was hardly any traffic but he just wouldn’t move when cars came along to the boatyard. There was nothing to be done about it but at least he didn’t suffer and as a neutered boy cat who was fed every day and lived happily with his cat family, his short life had been better than most street cats.
At the other end of the port, all were present and correct and seemingly well except for the tortie who was getting very thin. All the others including funny old Rodrigo, whose black hair now has a ginger tinge all over, were in good spirits and clambering over me. Dolly’s hair was looking glossy and healthy after the haircut I had given her last time
When we visited Victor’s parents, Mama Cat, who never usually leaves the garden, showed us her new trick of participating in the evening dog walk, along with the other cat. The house is surrounded by countryside so it is very safe for an animal procession!
We picked up the trap and equipment and Luigi told us about a couple of cats who had gone missing including Nerino. Previously, Nerino had taken three months to make his way back to Luigi’s shop after being homed in the country so hopefully he was just on one of his walkabout’s.
The next day we went off to the boatyard and trapped the ginger male but as usual, the black macho cat must have got wind of it and was nowhere to be seen! He was quite happy to recuperate in a basket in the apartment and after we released him the next day, we went to the harbour and picked up Rodrigo who I noticed was very scabby and was now scratching himself so much he was falling over as if he was having a fit! A steroid and antibiotic was given to calm his skin down. Lovely Marcel the vet didn’t even charge for this. He is so kind.
I bumped into the feeder at the Parc del Pescador and was relieved to see that the females I had spayed in October were thriving.
We went to meet Katri from Finland who needed help with a mama cat in her garden. I was a bit worried she still had kittens somewhere so I showed Katri how to use the trap and suggested she leave it a couple of weeks.
After this we drove on to Tarragona to check out the cats and kittens at the cathedral. When we arrived, the feeder was in tears because just that morning, she had found that three of the five kittens had been tortured and killed. This was shocking news and although I find it terribly upsetting and wasn’t sure what I would find, I set out to find the other two. We were given access to the locked gardens where I found more shocking evidence of the torture, which I won’t go into, then thankfully I found one of the kittens in the shrubbery looking very poorly but with flu rather than injuries. I could not find the other one and couldn’t imagine leaving without it but was just thinking I might have to give up when all of a sudden it appeared flopped on the pathway. I scooped it up quickly and put them both in a box and set out on the journey to the vet. They had managed to escape torture because they were ill therefore had been hidden away. Marcel was very worried about their eyes and thought they would lose them so dispatched us to a pharmacy for a prescription. He did everything that could be done but unfortunately the smaller one did not survive. The little black and white one recovered though and is now in a proper home-he was very lucky.
Unfortunately, access to the locked cathedral gardens is only really possible on the one day a week when the one sympathetic sacristan is on duty so the difficulties faced in trying to trap the poor mother cat are enormous. I knew we had to somehow work out a way to do it. Victor pointed out to him that if visitors to the cathedral knew what was going on in it’s grounds, they would be disgusted and some would probably refuse to go in if they knew.
The next day I found the friendly black cat who had been suffering from a massive injury under his arm last time I had seen him October when I had injected him with antibiotics. I looked and it was still raw and hadn’t healed and was caked in dirt. It must have been so painful for months but he is such a jolly and amenable fellow, except of course, when he is having fisticuffs with other toms which is why it didn’t get the chance to heal as he was always having street brawls! We were running out of time as we were leaving the next day but I ran back to the apartment for a basket and off we drove to Marcel’s to be treated and equally importantly, castrated! When we picked him up later, Marcel said that it was too split open to be stitched but with care and more treatment and antibiotics in another fortnight, he would be fine. Victor decided that his parents would have to take him so he set off to persuade them….which he eventually succeeded in doing! They were a bit worried about how he would get on with Mama Cat, and the others including the dog though. After a night of recuperating in our apartment, Sebastian, as we called him, was taken by us to his new home where, viewed suspiciously by Mama Cat and the gang, he ate some food and jumped in his makeshift bed! We told them to keep him in a separate room for a couple of weeks which they did. A success to finish the trip!
The next trip came less than three weeks later as I was so worried about the plight of the cathedral cats. Katri had offered to try to catch the mother cat but the logistics of of it were complicated not least of all because Tarragona is not that near and I didn’t have transport this time. Also, access is very limited as it is all locked up. We were also woefully short on traps and restrainer baskets and Katri was still trying to catch the mama cat in her garden with the only trap in sight! It was all so frustrating as I couldn’t do much without the rest of my rescue equipment but my Spanish contacts had been without internet for a few weeks.
It was quite a worrying trip all round for many reasons. Many of the cat feeding areas seem to have empty bowls, which is unusual and some of the cats did seem to be particularly hungry. I kept going round filling up bowls with food-I don’t normally need to do this. This did change after a couple of days when all bowls were full to brimming again in most areas! While on my rounds, I saw some pregnant females but had nothing to catch them with despite trying my hardest to arrange it.
Rodrigo was a worry as he had started venturing from the relative safety of the port area and over to the park where someone feeds every night. I don’t know whether this was as a result of there being less food around or pure mischievousness-probably the latter! I nearly jumped out of my skin when I was walking round the edge of the park one night checking on the park gang and he suddenly jumped out meowing at me-I couldn’t believe my eyes! Me and Rodrigo go back a long way to many years earlier when he was very ill and curled up in the rocks and I hand fed him and treated him with antibiotic injections so I am so concerned for his safety. He has to cross a main road and big roundabout to get to the park. Another day I saw him do it and he didn’t look before he crossed-he has no road sense as he has not left the port for the whole of his 10 plus years. I waited one night to try to see the feeder to see how long he had been visiting but gave up at midnight!
At the port, there was a new addition-a sweet calico cat and her kitten. I suddenly noticed them sheltering under an upturned boat! I spoke to a man nearby who told me in Spanish that they had turned up there two days previously and originally there had been four kittens. I had my fingers crossed that someone sensible had taken them. Still I didn’t have any equipment so in the meantime I kept going back and forth to feed and check on them and hoping they wouldn’t vanish! Who could just dump a mother cat and kittens at the port like that? I wondered if they looked back as they drove away and left their terrified cats there.
Walking back from the port, I spotted a ginger and white cat with sores on her back. She was another new one who I had never seen before-she was so friendly and affectionate and happy to be fed. I made a mental note to keep an eye on her.
The next day I finally made arrangements to get my equipment but when we went to meet the person, we watched her drive right past without seeing us! We waited another hour and a half in case an emergency had cropped up or something but she never came! We found out later that she had been expecting to see me and my boyfriend rather than me and my mum so she looked right past us so still no trap to use.
We carried on feeding the mum and kitten, the ginger and white cat and any other hungry mouths but decided to use the spare time to visit Barcelona, specifically Jardinet del gats which is a lovely sanctuary in the heart of the city. I arranged to meet Alex who runs it and was introduced to the cats in their care. They are doing a fantastic job and the strays who end up there are very lucky.
All was well at the boatyard although the ginger boy who we had neutered was still skinny and looked a bit fragile but along with the others was pleased to see me as it always means special food!
Finally, I managed to get my trap and a basket back so went straight away to pick up the mum and kitten at long last. It was a relief to get them safely inside although I did not know what I was going to do with them! I also noticed that the jolly ginger and white cat had become ill over the last couple of days and was lying in the bushes looking very lethargic and I couldn’t tempt her with food so I quickly picked her up and set off for the vets. Marcel spayed both of the females and said that the poorly one was seriously ill with an abscess on her liver and gave her a 50/50 chance. He said he would try to find a home for the kitten. I ended up with two cats at the apartment that I couldn’t possibly out back on the street and was in a panic as I was returning to England. The ill cat was still comatose-it was such a worry. The next morning she came round but wouldn’t eat so I kept dripping water on her nose which trickled into her mouth and I eventually got her to drink.
I was worrying all day as we were leaving first thing in the morning and there was still nowhere for the two cats to go. I tried a few options with no luck but at the last moment, Progat Cambrils said they could them. It would be fine for Poppy the mother but the other one needed intensive care so we took her to someone who could look after for a few days until she could go with the others-if she pulled round. What a relief!
Unfortunately, the ginger and white cat didn’t recover from her big operation. We will never know why she had the big abscess on her liver but at least she didn’t die in the bushes on her own and had all the love and care imaginable in her last few days. RIP little cat-we tried so hard.
The success story was that Poppy and her kitten were very healthy and are no longer frightened on the streets.
Something we have been trying to do for months is find a home for Luna, a lovely dog who had been abandoned by his owner in the garden where he previously lived. He was fed by a relation but that was all. I tried everything I could think of to find a home for Luna-surely it couldn’t be that difficult? I tried all the friends and contacts I knew in Spain and I even started a Facebook page for him but while there was sympathy, no home ever came up. We were considering homing him in Finland but the potential home fell through mainly because it was a flat. A very kind person put forward the money to send Luna to Finland but it was just not possible. Thank you Fiona! Recently, it has been discovered that some local people have semi adopted him and he is running around free with their dog which is far from ideal but he is clean, tick free and has put on weight….and of course he is very happy! We will continue to monitor the situation and try to offer help and advice but I don’t know how well that advice will go down!
In July, my new friends at Sanctuary Angels, hosted an event in their lovely garden at St Neots to raise funds for a few animal groups including Mama Cat. It was a wonderful day thanks to the hard work of Amanda and the angels-we had a great time and were inspired to try something similar ourselves next year.
An update on the most recent trip in September and October is coming up really soon.