I landed at Reus airport with a long to-do list of cats I had heard about by email with various problems so as soon as I could, I went off in search of them.
I had heard there was a new older kitten who had arrived at Luigi’s shop and I spotted him straight away, untouchable and peeping tentatively at a distance-a very pretty boy, he would need to be trapped.
There had been a report that one of the harbour cats was ill with a sore mouth and I quickly realised that it was the tortie who had been there for many years and I had been worried was getting thinner. I collected her as well as the new very friendly young tabby who had obviously been dumped there and needed to be neutered.
My friends at Progat Cambrils, Raquel and Sigmund asked me to help with a feral colony at a golf club so we set off with the car full of traps and managed to catch three. The others proved more elusive. Apparently the cats had been causing problems with outside wedding parties at the venue where they had been caught jumping up on the buffets tempted by the jumbo salmon-oops! Luckily, the owners had seen a previous sterilisation programme implemented and working successfully at another of their enterprises so had called us in and not resorted to inhumane methods as many do.
The next day, I had good and bad news-the bad news was that the lovely tortie had had to be put to sleep as she had tested positive for Leukaemia and was very ill with it. I was quite shocked and worried about the implications for the other cats in the harbour group. Although there was nothing that could have been done to alleviate her suffering, many tears were shed over this news as it had all been so sudden and I had known her a long time-since my first trip to Cambrils. There was good news too to help ease the pain-the tabby from the harbour who I now called Georgio, would not be put back-he could stay with my friends at Progat. Also, all three cats who we had caught the day before had been females so we cut down the number of kittens massively there at the golf club. We tried to trap more there but a dog off the lead and without it’s owner came and scuppered the plans unfortunately.
When I visited the boatyard, all were well except for the ginger boy I had neutered on the last trip who they said they had found dead-I was so sad about this and although I don’t know what had actually happened, he had always looked a little more frail than the others.
I heard that there had been some poisonings at a colony where all the cats had been sterilised-this is so upsetting whenever this happens and so mindlessly cruel. Such a lot of effort and emotion goes into helping the cats and then someone can just come along and kill them without a second thought-it is just horrible. On a happier note, I had wondered about a cat with no tail who I had neutered a few years ago and who had disappeared-this was because she had found herself a proper home indoors-clever girl! I happened to meet her and her new owner so that was a very nice thing to happen.
On the weekend we had the chance to see Mama cat and Sebastien at their home-they were bursting with health and Sebastien’s horrific wound was almost healed-he would never have survived on the streets.
Also, on the weekend, I noticed a very timid cat who I had recently met, with 4 identical tabby kittens who scuttled into the bushes when they saw me although I persuaded them out with sardines so I could give them a quick once-over before they fled again!
Manolo, the kitten at Luigi’s was so playful but had to make his own games-none of the older cats who hang out there wanted to play with a silly kitten however hard he tried to persuade them by running around with a discarded tissue in his mouth! Raquel said she would take him if I caught him-he would then have friends.
I also noticed a really friendly young black and white boy cat who was blind in one eye and was such a sweetie-he kept hanging around restaurant tables when people were eating and I really feared for his safety.
One morning I decided to trap at 6.30 am before people were out and about and I struck lucky by first catching Manolo at Luigi’s. I also picked up the black and white half blind boy who was out bright and early further down the road. I then hurried onto another area nearby where I trapped the mother of the kittens. I went back and forth all day to feed them in the absence of their mum and keep an eye on them as they were in bushes next to a dangerous road junction and I realised there were not just four but five kittens-one must have been lazy and sleeping until the pilchards came out-they were crazy for them!
The next day when Raquel returned the mother cat to me after spaying, I was so worried about the kittens and she asked if I thought I could trap them-if I could, she would take them and their mama too! Obviously that was a challenge that would now have to be met as it was an offer that could not be refused. I set off immediately and although it was very difficult and took a long time, I was thrilled when I trapped them one by one and especially relieved when I caught the last very evasive one. I fixed a series of cages and traps together and put them in with their mum but she got cross with them jumping on her after her op so I separated them again for a few hours to give her a break. I did not stop cleaning for the next couple of days!
I went to trap another cat who looked to be heavily pregnant but when I got close I realised she had an eartip therefore was just very chubby!
The next morning when cleaning them out for the umpteenth time, I decided to handle each kitten to assess the possibility of taming them-boy, were they feisty! I was doing fairly well until the fifth one sunk his needle sharp teeth into my finger-I clung on even with blood flowing!
We went with Raquel and Sigmund several times to their new and bigger home surrounded by countryside which they are renovating so they can give as many Cambrils cats as possible a safer place to live. When we took the mum and kittens there, we had to build a barricade on the ground floor to try to keep them in one area as they were so wild and were likely to hide in the house which was only half finished-this was easier said than done! We were wobbling up on ladders and taping up hidey holes and allsorts but finally we let them out. It was fantastic to see Georgio who was very very purry and happy and the half blind cat, now called Johnny-both had made themselves at home. Manolo was still hiding somewhere inside but had been seen flitting from one spot to another at the speed of light!
I really am so grateful to Raquel and Sigmund who took 9 cats from me this time who just wouldn’t have lasted long left on the streets. Life for cats on the street is not great but some can live happily after neutering when they are fed daily and living in a safe spot. Others have a low rate of survival because of where they are living-like these nine who are so lucky to have been given refuge and a chance for a long and happy life.
There is always such a mixture of good and bad news when I am there-real highs and lows and this trip seemed to have more than ever although, on reflection, there were a lot of happy endings.
Many thanks to Katri who took my trap and caught the female cat at Tarragona cathedral who I had been so worried about after her kittens were tortured. It doesn’t make her safe from harm but a lot safer than she was.
Katri has also given a home to Luna the dog who we were trying to place for a long time. He is doing really well and is having a lovely time.