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Sick cat in AvolaSigns that summer is underway are the daily emails I receive from anxious tourists wanting to know how they can help a Sicilian cat.

When the feline in question is an apparently lost kitten, I’ll query: ‘Are you sure the mother isn’t around?’ It is also wise to check whether the cats are being fed by a gattara, a cat lady, as she will feel a sense of ownership.

However, there are occasions when the animal is obviously distressed and sick; then I pull out all the stops to help. Fortunately, I have gathered a list of local contacts: those rare animal friendly people and organisations that will collaborate with me.

Here is a peek at my Catsnip ‘case book’ over recent weeks. It contrasts the forever tomorrow attitude of Sicily with the valiant efforts of some individuals and volunteers. 

Bartek and Julie write from Tranpani. ‘A poor cat stuck in an old abandoned building has been desperately meowing all night but no one seems to care.’

I attempt to call the city police and the fire brigade but no reply. I ply my contacts with emails and, a day later, Viviana, volunteer for animal welfare ENPA responds. She’s checked out the site and thinks cats can come and go via windows. However, town hall representatives will make an inside site inspection. All we can do is wait and hope she was right.

friendly catJudith writes from Avola concerned about two stray cats near a supermarket.  ‘One is in a very bad condition, the other white one wanted to be petted all the time. Do you know a vet or animal shelter in Avola? Or what can we do?’

I contact Gabriella who runs animalsicilia. She spends days trying to find a volunteer who will help. Antonella gets in touch and mentions the name of the vet clinic, which collaborates with Avola-city officials and the whole system. Cats can stay at the clinic while they recover. Silence after that. Returned to Germany, Judith announces she wants to adopt the while cat. At the time of writing lovely Amelia, another ENPA volunteer, is trying to find this affectionate feline.

kitten with sore eyesFinally, a more positive story: Julie, writing from Catania, finds a cat family living in church grounds. One of the kittens is skinny with apparently infected eyes. Is it OK to take him to a vet? Together we source the vet, then Julie discovers the family ‘belongs’ to the local library, which feeds and waters them. ‘Her’ kitten’s eyes ‘look a LOT better than when I first saw him, dirty but fine. I didn't feel he was in exceptionally bad shape. To be honest I'm completely in love with the kitten. But letting him stay there and not to bother him feels like the better and less-stressing thing for him to do.’

Frustrating but sometimes rewarding, my fight for these felines continues and I’ll never give up. I’m happy that, at least, these compassionate tourists have a point of contact with Catsnip. 

Jennifer Pulling runs Catsnip for the neutering and treatment of feral cats in Sicily. She is the author of The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue (John Blake)  

Jennifer has a website on writing:

http://www.jenniferpulling.co.uk

A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure