I’ve been having a bit of a dilemma about this website because the truth is we are now just ticking along in the village with a stable colony of cats.
I mentioned before that I’d been going into Monforte de Lemos and feeding some cats there. It all started in May when, as the restrictions here lifted, we went to have a drink at one of the bars in town which has a terrace. In fact it’s an amazing location, opposite one of the very beautiful stately buildings in Monforte, the 16th century ‘colegio’.
Here's Monforte and this is the view from the bar.
It was so worrying to see her there in that condition. The bar is very close to a busy road which separates it and several other bars from a large park next to the colegio, so no doubt this cat and her friends would be crossing the road willy nilly.
What to do? Well the most immediate need was for food, so I started going into town very early in the morning when no one was around, filling some plastic containers with dry food and water.
I would do this every couple of days.
The little black cat appeared to have had her kittens and I saw a tiny ginger one and then a tiny black one, and I just hoped beyond hope they wouldn’t get run over.
After a while I noticed that the containers I’d put next to the bar would have other food in them so someone else was feeding them. This was wonderful to see.
Then a complete breakthrough - someone told me that there was a Facebook group called Miau Lemos which was all about the street cats of Monforte. I joined it and then a couple of weeks later met with the guy who had set it up, Isaac. He showed me around some other colonies and told me he and his sister were trapping and neutering cats - all out of their own money. I was amazed.
Then there was a meeting with a larger group of people one Sunday, all of us standing in a circle in the park with our masks on. There were ten of us and we all introduced ourselves and described the colony or colonies we were helping. I told them about the cats opposite the colegio and said I would appreciate some help if anyone would be able to help, as I didn’t live in town and so couldn’t feed them every day. A woman called Irina said, yes I can help, I live nearby.
I found out at that meeting that it’s actually illegal to feed the cats. There’s some by-law apparently.
That was September and since then we have been sharing the load. We take turns, and Isaac has neutered several of the “Gatos de la Compañía” as they’re called.
So, at the end of 2020, a terrible and frightening year, there has been a warm ray of sunshine in the lives of the cats of Monforte. We have set up a charitable association and the Facebook page has hundreds of followers (please join it if you’re in Facebook!). People make donations at one of the vet clinics towards the costs of the neutering. We’re working on a strategy which includes a neutering programme, building shelters for the cats to sleep in, and of course getting permission to feed them!
I am so happy to know that there are great people with big hearts and I hope we can make some sustainable changes to the lives of those cats.
In the meantime I will proudly continue my criminal activity. This afternoon I was delighted to see four little cats - no longer skinny - looking out from the ruined building they sleep in, behind the terrace bar, and two of those cats had the tell-tale clipped ear to show they’ve been neutered. What progress has been made in such a difficult year!
Finally, many, many thanks for the generous support during the year. It buys a lot of cat food!
Happy new year!! Bring on 2021. Warm wishes to all xxx