As Catsnip marks its fourteenth birthday, I have some encouraging news. During my recent trip to Sicily I met up with Valeria, tireless worker with the Sicilian shelter L’Arca where numerous cats and dogs pass through its welcoming gates. Regular readers of my bulletins will remember that Valeria hosted my team when Guy Liebenberg and helpers carried out an intensive week of neutering in the town of Mascali. Our work galvanised the local State vets into action; they are now regularly neutering feral animals, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than ours. L’Arca has also moved into much nicer premises but the struggle to pay all the bills continues. I was able to make a donation towards this wonderful work. During my trip, I was also happy to see far more local people feeding the cats. On the other hand, I had a heated conversation with the owner of one feline: asking politely whether Lorenzo was neutered, he flew into a rage and said it was ‘against nature’.
Over the years, with the support of dedicated vets, cat ladies, not to mention Animals Voice readers, it seems I have been able to make some improvement to the plight of the island’s feline population. Cats have been neutered and treated, I have been able to support cat ladies and ‘my’ vet, Oscar La Manna with both money and equipment. But the battle never ends.
Throughout this summer, there has been the anticipated flood of emails from tourists seeking help and advice about a cat or kitten they have found in distress. I am always ready to provide any assistance I can. An example was the tiny kitten, which stole a couple’s hearts. I put them in touch with lovely cat lady, Eleanor, who eventually found it a loving home. Time is never on my side; usually I have only days or even hours to find a solution before the tourist goes home. Often, they only contact me when departure time looms. Then I have to drop everything and make use of all my contacts. Oscar sympathised with me and told the tale of a feline ‘boarded’ with him while the owner went on holiday and never returned to pick up the cat. Typical of him, he has since nursed and continues to feed it so my donation came in useful there.
My book The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue has raised awareness of the situation and I receive many letters from readers, some of them wanting to help. It is also proving a resource for many.