Note: Originally written April 2008
There are a whole bunch of homeless cats and dogs in Mexico. Fortunately, there are a whole bunch of people and organizations dedicated to their welfare. But all in all, it is a lucky few that get adopted and tended to. When I first moved into my condo here in PV a couple years ago, there were two young-ish cats on the premises, strays that wandered on to the property, made them and their fleas at home in my home and those of others. Everyone in residence here thought of them as “their” cats and were a bit surprised to find that Smoky and Oreo were wandering from place to place, eating and growing large. They finally settled in with our neighbors, Ken and Darlene, who live here full time and thus presented the best opportunity for a constant food supply.
Then Smoky was poisoned. One of the contracted construction workers here took a dislike to him and left out poisoned food in a place he spent his afternoons. The entire community here was beyond upset, mourning this stray cat that was so much a part of our life here. The Mexicans do not hold animals in the same high regard that we do, and were astonished at the feelings and reactions generated by the gringos. In another incident, one of the workers jabbed a sharp stick into a drainage hole that served as a home for one of the iguanas, just for the hell of it. There was a general meeting of all the workers here and they were told that any more incidents like this would be met with swift reprisals and loss of job. So Oreo remains safely with us so far.
I had some renters this spring who stayed a month, and adopted a beautiful long-haired white kitten with sapphire eyes who wandered into Selva recently. They had no actual plan in place for when they left. No, couldn’t take her with them. Handed her off to me and flew home. So the gringos are also capable of mistreatment of animals, in a different way.
One of our neighbors here who had grown fond of little Frieda donated the money necessary for her to be spayed. I tracked down a vet through one of the animal rights people, and she drove us across town for the surgery. She had other errands to run, so I took a bus home. Then later that day, took a bus back. Picked up dazed little Frieda and returned in a taxi. Frieda became her old self in a few days, but I still needed to find her a home, as my schedule did not permit tending to a cat here, and doubted that my Portland cats Amber and Buster would welcome her there.
My friend, Patricia, lives a few blocks from my Selva home in a luxury penthouse with an ocean view and a large terrace. She offered to take Frieda in, so we thought it was settled and Frieda had found a good home. But then Patricia decided to give Frieda to her maid, who took her home to her house in the mountains with kids, other cats and a few acres to roam in. So the little stray Mexican cat has come full circle and back with a Mexican family and will hopefully live a long and happy life there.
We miss her.
Update: May 2008. I was walking down the street to the beach to get some fresh juice from the family who has a stand there. I recognized one of my neighbors who lives in, and manages, a small older apartment building halfway down. An older Mexican man with an old white mangy dog (named Mariposa “butterfly”, who as a puppy he might have resembled) who flops on the sidewalk each afternoon. Both of them. Various family members flit in and out of the dark cave-like apartment on the street level. He was holding a tiny white kitten with white long hair and blue eyes. Frieda’s sister. One of the eyes was crusted over with a dry yellow puss-like substance. Infected. He said “la gatita” was only 20 days old. Doomed to blindness. I tracked down a local vet and described the symptoms in my terrible Spanish. Brought a potion back with me. The neighbor is an enthusiastic drinker, so timing was important. But, in the end, several trips to visit with the medicine, and with the cooperation of his daughter, la gatita has two clear blue eyes and is ready to face the world, which is not too kind inMexico for excess kittens. Much less so blind ones. The sad news is that the mother cat, the mother with the long white coat and the blazing sapphire eyes, the mother to so many of the stray kittens here in our part of town, is still roaming free and creating new ones. The endless cycle continues.
Update to the update: July 2009. I saw my neighbor sitting on the stoop outside his home, and inquired about la gatita. He said she died, poisoned. A hard, painful way to die.