Shelter 17 – Rede Leonardo, Trabalhias, Portugal.
The possibility of a new mode of transport brought me back to Portugal, to the place where my journey began.
I was grateful. A warm reception, friendly faces and a wonderful surprise birthday meal. ? Easy conversations, laughter and discussions of the journey so far.
After many miles, many struggles and lonely times, this was just the tonic. ?
So I started at a shelter close by. An old converted school house, beautifully renovated and another plant/flower haven. There’s around 20 dogs and 10 cats in separate enclosures outside, then kittens inside.
It’s a nice, well maintained place with new kennels and a few areas for the dogs to run. And of course the flowers, which is always lovely to see.
I arrived amidst some confusion as to whether I was dropping a kitten off???
No, no cats or kittens. I’m here to volunteer with dogs.
Oh, ok great.
They were preparing for an Open Day the following weekend, so there were numerous volunteers sprucing the place up. I got stuck in helping with weeding.
Then the week began with the usual lack of people – just me and another lady. After finishing one section of dogs I asked – ‘What’s next?’
‘Can you clean the cats?’
I haven’t done cats before, but know they’re clean, so thought I’d quickly sort them, then get back to the main dog area.
There’s a reason I haven’t done cats. I’m not used to them, don’t understand them and quite frankly I’m afraid they might attack if I try to touch them.
But at least they’re clean.
Somehow I spent the rest of the week on cat cleaning duty and these are the five things I learnt about my feline friends. ?
1. Cleaning the cat section takes AGES! Emptying litter boxes, cleaning poo off the sides, refilling, cleaning poo from the floor, removing slugs, cleaning bowls, filling water, mopping, clearing up sprayed litter, clearing up food and items knocked over by my inquisitive friends. All done at a snail’s pace, so the cats didn’t freak out.
2. No matter where I put extra litter trays, my friends would always leave me ‘presents’ on the floor, which I would invariably tread in.
Cats are clean…..hmmmmm. ???
3. Cat poo smells WAY WORSE than dog poo!
4. Cats play creepy games. I found myself constantly involved in a game of weird statues. It felt like the spooky knocking/counting game played by the ghosts in The Orphanage?! I would put some wet food out and when I looked up the cats would be frozen, but slightly closer. This continued while I worked until they reached the food. They LOVED wet food, but playing the game was way more important. ?
5. A cat could mysteriously go missing under my watch? A dog – never. But apparently a cat could. When asked if I’d seen the cat in question, I had to be honest and say I had no idea? I didn’t remember seeing it playing the statue game, but who knew which cats liked that game and which didn’t? I still have no idea what happened to the vanishing cat? Spooky.
One was friendly and I used to wipe gunk from his/her infected eye, but I never mustered the courage to touch the others.
Maybe I should have, to signify the end of our game? Who knows? I never understood the rules anyway, but I was always ‘It’.
The Open Day was lovely – a huge success, amazing gourmet food and hopefully recruitment of more volunteers. It’s a superb shelter, the dogs (and cats) seem to have a nice time.
And although I didn’t go in myself, I saw a few people with the cats that day. Perhaps they were going over the rules of the game? I imagine they were better at playing than me.
Give me fetch, or tug of war with the dogs any day. ??
Cats – you are welcome to your statue game – enjoy and God bless! ??