Cats require a different approach than dogs. Stray cats can be lost or abandoned domestic ones or unapproachable feral ones with all the degrees in between. They are far less visible and their suffering is a lot more “silent” than that of dogs. There is less of an infrastructure when it comes to cat rescue.
The idea of the PortuCats initiative is to create a network of individuals who care about cats and who would like to assist cats in need in their area. This can be feeding strays, assisting pregnant cats and subsequently homing the kittens, organising sterilisation/castration projects, helping injured animals, trying to home rescues, foster care etc.
The Portucats initiative is still in its infancy. We have now launched a facebook group called "Portucats" where members can contribute by posting texts and photos. If you are interested in the Portucats project, feel free to contact us.
Below are a few examples of cats we were able to help (click on the images to enlarge):
This year, we had quite a stream of kittens, starting with a litter of three that was found in a car wreck in the pouring rain. The mother had not appeared all day, so the person who had discovered them decided to take them away. But she could not look after them and brought them to us. The little ones were only two weeks old and needed bottle feeding. Luckily, they were very co-operative and developed into healthy and beautiful kittens. (Click here to see more images.)
Then we got Mango. We found him in a derelict office container where he had been locked up with some dry food thrown on the ground that he was unable to eat, he was only about five weeks old. He had an infected eye and was full of worms. Luckily, he had managed to draw our attention by crying his little heart out so that we could free him, treat him and eventually home him. He's now with Merlin and Fifi, the black and tabby one from the litter above.(Click here to see more images.)
Just before Merlin, Fifi and Mango were homed, someone brought us Ziggy. Her children had found him on the street. Little Ziggy was in a poor state, infection in both eyes, he could not even open them, incredibly dirty ears and just skin and bones. He would not have survived much longer. But he pulled through and turned into a very autonomous yet affectionate cat. He was homed with a lovely lady and has now got a girl-friend. (Click here to see more images.)
The only way to help reduce the endless stream of kittens is, of course, sterilisation. In a mini-project, we managed to have to street cats and two females of someone with no income spayed. It's a drop in the ocean but at least it's a start. The two streets cats were quite tame and it was easy to catch them. There are quite a few more where they live but all feral. We will have to use traps to get them.
This is Sebastião. His is a special story. He was born in an attic and while the mother and his siblings all got homed, no one was ever able to catch Sebastião and he ended up spending seven years up there. We were asked to help when someone donated a cat trap. We first got Sebastião used to regular human contact. Then launched an appeal to find a place to relocate him to. It had to be somewhere where he could be kept securely for a month or two before being allowed to go outside. We were offered an old rabbit hatch that we converted into a new home for him. Then we put the trap in his attic, first with one side open so that he would get used to it. Eventually, we set the trap up properly and Sebastião was co-operative enough to enter. We got him to the vets to be checked and neutered and then took him to his new home where he will hopefully have a much better life. (Click here for more pictures.)
Chiquita was living in a café where she had to be hidden because of legal requirements. Eventually, the owner decided she wanted to give Chiquita away and asked for our help. As it turned out, Chiquita was pregnant and close to giving birth. So, we had her spayed immediately and luckily found her a really good home after a short while.
Trixie appeared one day near someone's house, emaciated and clearly lost. She was wearing an old flea collar, so she had had a home. But all attempts to find her owners failed. A little while later it became clear that Trixie was pregnant. When she came close to giving birth, she wanted to get into the house but for various reasons, the owner of the house did not want a litter of cats in there. In the end, we went to get Trixie and gave her a bedroom where she could safely have her babies. She delivered four kittens who, unfortunately, did not survive a cold the mother had caught. Shortly after the death of the last kitten, Trixie was sterilised. She is now a happy cat that has made huge progress in terms of socialisation.
Felix originally belonged to a chicken farm but became a street cat that nobody cared for. He contracted chronic bronchitis and someone in the village wanted to kill him because they were afraid Felix might contaminate their cats. Thanks to a donation we were able to get Felix treated and even though his symptoms still linger somewhat, he is a strong and happy cat now.