It was back in 2006 that the first feral cat found there was a chance of food if he sat discreetly at the back door of the kitchen at the monastery. He was obviously not a house cat, extremely malnourished and desperately skinny. We managed to work out a routine that 2 small bowls would be placed under a bush, and he would approach it when he was sure no one was around sometime after sunset.
At that point, it was just a case of getting some food inside him during winter, but he became a regular and slowly started to trust the possibility that humans were not here to harm him.
The challenge became catching him when it was obvious he had an infection in one of his eyes (often caused by grass seeds getting lodged under the eye lid). That challenge simply deepened the connection between him and us, and he began to be around for the monks to say good morning to him and waiting not too far from the bush in the evening.
We have a regulars community of 8 to 10 cats who are at various stages of trusting us. That trust varies between taking every opportunity to jump on your lap when you sit in the garden, to being extremely fearful of any interaction with the community or the other cats in the group as it tries to find a play within the group.
At the monastery we provide a stable and nutritious food source that always available to them, which in turn gives us the opportunity to observe and treat any medical needs they may have and shelter in the colder months. This approach has proved to be extremely important to their well being, and has prevented a huge amount of sufferings in multiple cases.
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Our care of the local feral cats has been blessed to have the incredibly kind support of the 'Brigitte Bardot Foundation' for around 10 years.
They have been incredibly kind to provide food for the cats each year we have made an application for support, but because of their incredible work around the world and budget constraints, this is under review on a yearly basis.
This generous support in turn allows any money raised for our Animal Care Project to be focused on covering veterinary bills, and present and future projects that focus on supporting the local wildlife.