The message is always more or less the same: “I am in Sicily on holiday, we’ve found a cat (or kitten) and have been feeding it. It seems to be quite well except it has problem with its eyes. Any advice or people we can contact?”

Since the beginning of the holiday season I have received a lot of these and always try to help. First, I need to identify exactly where they are on the island, it being a fairly large place. Hopefully, it will be somewhere where I have contacts. Also, I am in touch with several other cat people such as Sirilkit who lives in Germany. She is creating a very useful database of contacts so is my first resort.  If the tourists are any where near Taormina, then I can really help as my lovely vet, Oscar, practices in that area. However, I usually manage to find someone they can get in touch with.

This week a lovely couple called Guy and Jo contacted me.  They were in Scopello, near Palermo and they reminded me of another tourist I helped a few years ago. On my advice she went to the local police for help and when they didn’t seem to be moving very fast, she sat on the floor of the station and wept buckets, which had the desired effect

I sent Guy details of vets saying ‘their’ kitten needed to have the eyes treated as she probably had an infection that, untreated, would cause her to go blind.

He replied with this: “if we brought her back to the UK would she need to be put into quarantine for 6 months after having a rabies jab? Or is it more simple nowadays?Is there a reputable business that you know can help to get this done if we can’t find someone to take her in? We are flying on Tuesday so I’m hoping we can at least leave her with the vet until we arrange this.”

Again, I was reminded of another couple, Sadie and Eddie, who finally brought a blind cat back to London. It is a course not to be taken lightly. The cat must have a series of inoculations including rabies. After this, it must remain in situ for 21 days before the necessary permission and documentation is given for it to be transported. Considering the slow wheels of Sicilian bureaucracy this is a daunting task. In Sadie’s case, she was continually told they had ‘run out’ of passports and it was only Oscar pulling strings that obtained one.

Initially, the couple was prepared to fly back for Katerina, the blind cat.  Eventually they found an agency in Rome called Relocat, which managed the whole thing for them. It did, however, cost an eye-wateringly amount of money.  Finally, Katerina arrived safely and now lives in a lovely home with a safe garden. Her blindness doesn’t hinder her from being very mischievous. But, as I said, not for the faint hearted.

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:


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

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