Time is something we all take for granted at one stage or another in our lives, especially with the interference of the Covid pandemic. They say a cat has nine lives. Lucky for a cat.
Zélia Santos has more than nine cats. “I have 11 colonies in Mexilhoeira Grande alone!” The calculation is that Zélia has a collection of 220 cats in just that particular area. “Each colony has around 20 cats. There are colonies in Portimão, Praia do Vau, Montes de Alvor, Ladeira do Vau…”
“Numbers become almost irrelevant,” as Zélia continues. “They are all bigger colonies. I have 12 more waiting to be sterilised. Not 12 cats; 12 colonies.”
It appears that some of the colonies have perhaps nearer to 30 or 40 cats. They all require feeding, caring and sterilisation programmes. These feral, furry, feline friends are being kept safe by a mere whisker of kindness.
The fires of 2017 were the catalyst. Abandoned, sometimes injured or pregnant animals needing shelter and feeding. A colleague suggested to her that she make contact with the Silves Prison authorities, which turned out to be a lifeline. Prisoners were only too pleased to help, building kennels from materials generously donated by local businesses and supporters. Shelters they designed and made to look smart and functional.
APAA, the Association for Protection of Animals Algarve, gives enormous support, as does the Câmara Municipal de Portimão. All donations are gratefully received, but APAA needs more!
A small band of volunteers help Zélia to feed the strays. Getting them used to strangers is long-term but rewarding. Unlike abandoned household pets, ‘feral’ animals need a lot more time, patience and effort. Homing cats is one of Zélia’s priorities.
APAA’s president Jenny Clarke says. “There’s always a home that needs a pet. They cannot be more loving and devoted. They’ve been dealt a bad deal. Rescuing and homing is not easy, but there is always a special furry friend waiting for the right family. But, more importantly, Zélia needs helpers now!”
Support APAA’s Charity shops:
Alvor – Dunas Complex, Monday to Saturday, 10.30am-2pm
Silves – Rua Elias Garcia, 20, Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm