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CasparCaspar’s story began when I received an email early last July. A couple were trailing their caravan along a country road in Abruzzo, southern Italy, when they saw the tiny kitten sitting in the middle of the road and narrowly missed hitting it. Wrote Lola: ‘I got out to move it, and the guy from the house in front came out and told me no, it wasn’t from there and I had to take it away. I saw what I assume was the mother cat looking for it, but he told me no it wasn’t the mother, and it wasn’t his cat, so I couldn’t leave it there.’

            The kitten with its blue eyes and seal pointed pale coat looked remarkable like a Siamese He journeyed on with the couple as they crossed the Straits of Messina and arrived in Sicily. On my advice, Lola took him to a vet who prescribed treatment for his eyes. Like so many cats in southern Italy he was suffering from an upper respiratory infection, which manifests in oozing from the eyes and can result in blindness if untreated.

Caspar and best friend            The emails increased. Lola told me she had no intention of keeping the kitten, they would shortly be moving on and insisted I find someone to take it. Animal rescue in Sicily is a tough assignment; there is a scattering of people and a few shelters, some of which are dubiously run. I put out an SOS on my Facebook page and was delighted when Alessandra replied. She agreed to pick up the kitten and take it home to Messina, a near by town. Meanwhile, Lola had sent me the first photographs of the little creature, which showed that he looked definitely like a Siamese.

            What impressed me at that point was the incomprehension of many tourists in Sicily of the dire situation of its feline population. They appear to think the procedure is the same as might happen in the UK, i.e. good refuges where they could be taken. In this case, I was SO lucky to find a solution.

            Alessandra picked up the kitten and called him Caspar. As a volunteer for one of the few associations for animal welfare, she only fosters rescued cats until she can find them a good forever home.

Caspar and best friend             What happened next was heart warming. Caspar and another rescued ginger cat became friends. At first they played together but then they became inseparable, as you’ll see from the photographs. They sleep together, curled in each other’s arms. Over a few weeks and with Alessandra’ care, Caspar has grown into a healthy and rounded little kitten. His blue eyes gaze at the world with such innocence and trust. He has had all the necessary inoculations and been wormed. When they are not sleeping, the two cats play and roam in Alessandra’s beautiful home and patio garden. As she told me, she is determined not to separate them and is in no hurry until she finds them a lovely family who will take them together.

            I’ll finish with the advice I give to every tourist who asks me for help. Step one is to check whether there is a mother and never to remove them from their location until they are certain of this. Another interesting point concerns Italian law. Although it is illegal to remove any feral from where it is living, there is often a sad lack of care and attention to their nourishment and welfare. However, in Caspar’s case, he has become one lucky kitten whose story has a happy ending.

Jennifer Pulling

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:

http://www.jenniferpulling.co.uk

 

           

A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras