Wandering around the Raval, especially when coming from the famous Boqueria Market, we passed this half open patio, that belongs to a huge house with no entrances, like a million times. It’s surrounded by a high and protecting fence – protecting something on the inside: a cat colony! There’s cats stretching on carpets, holding their noses and whiskers up into the warm sun of spring, playing with their mates and dozing away peacefully.
I don’t know how often I was wondering who takes care of all those beautiful, rather rough looking felines – seeing all the blankets, the cat houses and cushions, the food and water bowls, and some wooden sheds in the back. But I never saw anyone inside. So I investigated a bit more and came upon their website and their Facebook page.
The project ‘El Jardinet dels Gats’ (The Cats’ Garden) founded by Mari Borràs and Paco Salvador in the end of 2004, officially became a nonprofit organisation back in 2008 – being run solely by volunteers. The ‘garden’ that you can see by peeking through the fence is the place where once various abandoned cats lived under very poor circumstances. Today the Jardinet dels Gats rescues, neuters, microchips, tests, deworms and vaccinates abandoned cats in the Ciutat Vella (the old historic part of Barcelona) and finds them foster and adoptive homes. The more unfortunate ones that are unable to live with humans, mostly due to horrendous encounters with those cruel ‘persons’ that tortured them, or the ones that need a lot of special attention (medication, special care) and which makes it harder – but not impossible – to find them a forever home, are permanently living in the Jardinet and its volunteers take care of them on a daily basis by feeding them, keeping their litter and their whole space clean, checking up on them (and helping them if they need medical attention) and playing with them – giving them the love they deserve so much and never experienced, before living in the cat colony. Furthermore the city of Barcelona currently funds 60 sterilisations per year.
Mari and Paco sadly passed away in 2013 and the volunteers keep up their amazing work as a homage to them and their love for Barcelona’s feral street cats. Àlex – their daughter – says that it is due to them that she’s learned and experienced the love for life, and the respect this deserves, and that whatever you can do to help another creature – be it a dog, a cat, another human being, be it whatever it is in need – you shouldn’t hesitate and just help – even if it requires some effort. Her goal and the one of all the Jardinet’s volunteers is to get the feral cats of Barcelona off the streets and into a safe environment – preferably a forever home.
Cris (left) and Àlex, the daughter of the founders of El Jardinet dels Gats: Mari Borràs & Paco Salvador
All volunteers of the Jardinet have their normal, all day life works and routines, and they usually have cats, of course. Àlex, as a matter of fact has 5 at home. I myself signed up as a volunteer (foster home) last year. I’m already sharing my life with one beautiful cat (Bisou), that was found on the motorway when she was a kitten: she rolled herself up into a ball and the cars passed over her until people stopped and risked their lives to get her out of there. And then this beautiful soul came into our life and became our baby. She’s the most amazing creature and the most loving soul, I’ve ever had the luck to meet and I am so deeply grateful to have her in my life. So we decided to foster and are currently fostering our second cat from the Jardinet – Daisy. Daisy is a street cat. She’s had horrible experiences with humans and hates us dearly – but we want to give her all the time she needs in order to find peace and harmony, and rehabilitate. She made some very big steps – she’s not hissing at us anymore, demands her food when it’s time for food, lets me touch her head, plays with Bisou, even decided to stay in the same room at night. That’s a big reward and personally I can only recommend working with traumatised animals – it’s so satisfying when they finally come around and you feel how happy they are that they were able to experience other things from humans than bad ones.
So there’s always urgent cases: young, abandoned baby kitten being found constantly, abandoned cats that are not used to living outside on the streets, injured cats being brought in, old and / ill cats that need urgent, continuous attention and medical care, etc. The list is long and so is the list of beautiful felines that are waiting for someone to give them a chance and the love they so much deserve – be it in form of a temporary foster home (if you can’t make the longterm commitment) or their forever home. The Jardinet is always in need of foster and adoptive homes, and even if you know, that due to a cat allergy or the fact that you’re not allowed to have pets (by your landlord), or simply don’t have time for pets / don’t want to have pets, you can still help by becoming a teamer donating 1€/ month or sponsoring and donating money or cat food, etc. (see the Jardinet’s link for more info). Or you can become a volunteer and help them rescuing cats (if you like adventures during nighttime especially), you can help them feed the cats and clean their litters, donate blankets, cat food, your cat’s abandoned old cat toys – anything that makes a cat life worth living! All donations are directly destined to the rescued cats. And the volunteers are struggling everyday to keep this nonprofit organisation, that made and still makes so many differences in a lot of cats’ lives, alive and running. And if you consider having a pet, please, consider adopting a feral cat. There’s the right cat for everyone – if you need a cuddly one, or a distant one, one that makes you feel that there’s someone else around and you’re not alone – there’s a cat for every need. And there’s a million positive effects about having a cat and it makes you an even better human if you responsibly adopt a street cat. Don’t hesitate to make a difference – be the difference!
I need you & will love you unconditionally – don’t hesitate to adopt a street cat!
Donations in all forms and shapes are highly appreciated!
Finally I want to say that I am writing this blog post in English because there are so many English speakers living in Barcelona – and I know from my own experience that sometimes it is hard to get involved in community work because you doubt your Spanish or Catalan skills. But don’t let this come between you and the good you could be doing. Plus there’s volunteers working in the Jardinet dels Gats that speak a lot of different languages, apart from Spanish and Catalan: English, French, Italian & German! So what are you waiting for? Get up and help the ones that can’t defend and help themselves!
Become a feral cat’s forever home!
On the way up to Blau’s Kingdom
Blau’s Kingdom – the Rooftop