Feral Cat Colony

I’m writing to tell you about my journey of discovery when I moved to the seedy end of Gata de Gorgos, on the Costa Blanca, 18 years ago.

I was really excited to move to such a quaint Spanish town, set amongst rural vineyards and orange groves.

My first acquaintance with a feral cat colony was at the train station.

Feral Cat Colony

I was strolling by and saw three hungry, thin-looking Siamese – a mother and her two kittens.

I went home and came back with some cat biscuits and a bowl of water. From that point on, I visited the colony daily. I knew that one female cat can procreate a feline population of at least 200 cats, so I borrowed a humane cat trap and caught and sterilised the mother. As she was feral and highly nervous, it took many days to catch her.

To start with, I placed the trap against the wall where I always fed the cats, and made sure that she couldn’t eat until she walked in.  The best way to catch a wild cat is to make sure that they are hungry, and put the trap where you always put the food.

I put some smelly fish cat food at the far end of the trap, but she was still very nervous and mistrustful.  After one hour, I pushed the trap into a nearby bush and layered the floor with grass and leaves as a disguise.  Two hours later, and after plenty of inspection, the mother found the courage to enter the trap… SNAP!  I caught her!  It’s so important to prevent overpopulation in feral cat colonies, so I’m grateful that I could help out.

Siamese is now well into her retirement and spends almost all her time sleeping and sunbathing. It’s so nice to be able to relax and enjoy life after a long career of helping to control the rat population! Shortly after my ‘first catch’ I caught the daughter, and once sterilised she re-joined her mum on my terrace.  They are beautiful cats, and it’s great to have them both safe and sound!

Siamese Mum and her Daughter

I became friendly with Sebastian and Raquela, who live by the station, and they promised to care for the boy Siamese. They’re so sweet, and I know they’ll take great care of him.  If you’re ever in Gata de Gorgos, be sure to stop by the train station and say hello to the Siamese!

The two Siamese have remained steadfastly ‘feral’, not allowing me to come too close. This has presented a challenge at fleaing or worming time. I have become adept at creeping up on sleeping cats to squirt them with Frontline or Stronghold flea drops. The drops also act on internal parasites as well as fleas. What fun!

When in her twelfth year, the youngest Siamese began to have difficulty breathing, making laboured rasping sounds.  After two visits to the vets, the condition hadn’t improved and she was clearly in distress.  Sadly, she hadn’t responded to treatment, and we decided it was kinder to end her suffering.

feral cat colony

The poor mother Siamese spent two days searching for her daughter.  She then went on to form a close bond with Benny, and they are now inseparable. Male and female cats often have very special friendships and follow one another from place to place, feeding, playing and grooming as one.

I was out for my usual walk by the train station when I noticed a tiny grey and white kitten. It was so affectionate, and I could tell it was really hungry. Sadly, it appeared to have been abandoned.

After a few days, I noticed that the pupil of one eye had contracted and shrunk back into the eye socket. This is a common problem with feral cats and can be caused by viruses or injuries sustained in fights.

The following day I caught the kitten in the trap and took it to a vet in the next town.  The eye couldn’t be saved, but the vet closed it permanently. I didn’t want to risk putting a half-blind kitten back on the street, so I brought him home and called him Benny. Benny has been living happily for some years now and had no difficulty adapting to being half-blind.

Before long, Benny fell in love with a cushion and began to mark all over the house.  Thankfully, sterilisation cured him of his amorous habits, and it’s worth remembering that male cats should be neutered at six months to avoid this kind of behaviour becoming a recurring problem.

After neutering, many cat carers notice that their cats become calmer and more contented.  Benny is much happier now, and devoted to his cushion which he cuddles all day long!

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