Saving Cats in Mexico - Overcoming Stigmas and Outdated Beliefs

Steve Dale - Catster
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July 28, 2017


Cats in transit from Mexico via Pause4Paws’ Gotta Getta Gato program. Photography courtesy Pause4Paws

Sometimes an issue appears black and white — when it’s really a complicated calico, a mix of hues and colors. Cats haven’t always had an easy time in Mexico. In many parts of the country, though, their welfare has improved and continues to evolve for the better. But in other places, their situation remains dire. Here’s how a few people and organizations are working to make life better for cats in Mexico.

The issues with cats in Mexico

The problem begins with a cultural pet preference, according to Lola Cortina of San Miguel de Allende, where she founded a sanctuary for cats, Santuario Felino Rey Ashoka, a no-kill facility. “People here prefer dogs,” she said.

“Indeed, many people in Mexico have historically treated cats like the very vermin they help to control,” said Janice Chatterton, founder of the SPCA Puerto Vallarta.

Tourists see a part of Cancún but not typically the outskirts where Ricardo Pimentel operates a sanctuary called Tierra de Animales, where, aside from dogs and cats, he saves turtles, goats, sheep or whatever comes along.

Ignorant beliefs about cats

“There’s lots of ignorance about cats,” Ricardo said. “People get them as kittens, they never spay or neuter them. There are thousands of cats on the street, most of them are feral, and most of those cats have FIV or (feline) leukemia, and they spread it to other cats.”

In Puerto Vallarta, cats overpopulate in lots of places, including a popular park near the Rio Cuale. Local store owners and restaurateurs around the park reportedly pay kids about 10 pesos a piece to kill as many cats as they can.

Dealing with the stigma of helping cats in Mexico

Nancy and David Goldstein are retired snowbirds in Puerto Vallarta, wintering from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for three months at a time. Nancy said, “Not only do these cats die a horrible death, but I’m worried about the not-so-humane education these children are being taught.”

Lola said that sometimes she must maintain a low profile helping cats, or some people might give her a difficult time. People think, “Why bother to help cats?”

However, Mexicans aren’t alone. Cats are arguably (in some ways) second-class citizens in the U.S., said Puerto Vallarta resident Suzanna Persa, who some call “the crazy kitten lady.”

She said, “Stray cats exist and are sometimes killed in the U.S. and around the world. This isn’t only a Mexican issue. And things are gradually changing for the better here, particularly among younger people.”

Suzanna was never involved in animal welfare when she lived in the U.S. However, it was a single little kitten in need of help who touched her heart several years ago after she moved to Puerto Vallarta. “I took that kitten in, and then three baby kittens I found in the rain, and the entire kitten thing snowballed.”

Suzanna bottle-feeds the kittens and gets them spayed/neutered — usually paying a low cost from her own pocket, as a local veterinarian offers her a discount. And she eventually sends the cats on their way to friends back in the U.S. or adopts them out locally. “Good work is being done throughout Mexico,” she said.

Read the rest at Catster.

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