Jacqueline and one of her cats that she could keep. 

A few years ago a mummy cat had a litter of kittens in someone's barn in a small hamlet. She and the kittens were “adopted” by the owner of the grange and his neighbours. Some of the kittens became house cats whilst the mother and some others enjoyed the freedom of the barn, whilst still permitting their human subjects to bring them food.

Unfortunately over the years the population expanded until one day the people decided that something had to be done and so they contacted one of our volunteers. To cut a long story short, they caught the cats and took them to one of our friendly vets, where NALA paid for them to be sterilised and identified. One of the inhabitants of the hamlet looked after them until they had recovered from the operation and then released them. Job done, end of story except...

... the hamlet invited the volunteer to dinner to thank her and there she was approached by someone who told her of an urgent situation...

A few winters ago an octogenarian who had some cats of her own discovered some very young kittens deposited in her garden. Clearly they had been dumped there by someone who was relying on the lady's good nature to take care of them. Of course, she couldn't just leave them to die, so she took them in and raised them. She didn't have the financial means to sterilise them and she found other kittens in her garden in subsequent years. Little by little her feline population grew until she had over thirty.

Sometimes her cats (and those of her neighbours) disappeared, were poisoned, were found dead or returned home with appalling injuries. Some of the neighbours were unhappy about the number of cats and made complaints to the mayor. However, no solution was found and drastic measures were being envisaged for the following Friday, which is when, just by chance, someone from that town met our volunteer at that dinner. Once the urgency of the situation was explained to her, our volunteer contacted us and we met with this person to see if there was anything that we could do.

As a result of our meeting we went to see the octogenarian to discuss the situation and see if we could find a solution that was acceptable to her. She agreed that we could take away some of the cats to be adopted so that she would be left with five, sterilised and identified. This happened during the weekend, so we had to wait until Monday before we could go any further.

First thing on Monday, we contacted the legal department of the national association 30 millions d'amis where a very helpful lady answered our questions and gave us advice. She also contacted the Mayor of the town to discuss the matter and reported back to us.

Lola, one of J's cats

We then arranged an appointment with the Mayor, which took place on the Wednesday. In the meantime we made an appeal for help on our website and our Facebook page. Through this we discovered that another local association l'Ecole du Chat Libre Caillerot was also involved and had already found other associations, adoptants or foster homes for many of the excess cats.

On Wednesday we met with the Mayor and explained our proposal to capture and place the majority of the cats, leaving the lady with 5 sterilised and identified cats. We had also arranged with her neighbours that they would keep an eye on the situation in case of further difficulties. This proposal would solve the problem without any unnecessary expense for the town. The Mayor found our proposal acceptable, so the cat exodus began.

By the end of Wednesday over 20 cats had been caught and taken away to the associations, the new temporary homes or to vets for sterilisation or treatment. NALA took care of 7 whilst the rest were caught by the indefatigable volunteers of L'Ecole du Chat Libre Caillerot who were busy until late at night. As a result the Mayor cancelled his intended actions. Over the next few days the other cats will be caught and hopefully there will be no more problems in the future. It was thanks to the open attitude of the mayor, the efforts of the volunteers of L'Ecole du chat libre Caillerot and NALA85480, the advice and support of 30 millions d'Amis that a solution was found. But we mustn't forget the many people who were willing to adopt a cat or act as a foster family. This nationwide mobilisation that saw cats being reserved from as far away as Nice and Paris shows the power of social media such as Facebook in bringing people together to solve a problem. We are keeping the Mayor regularly informed of the progress we make. 

Most cats were in a good state of health though they were in need of a flea and worm treatment

On a more sombre note, it's necessary to look at the causes of this problem and see what lessons we can learn. Firstly, people should not abandon animals in the gardens of animal friendly people hoping that they will be looked after. Not only is abandoning an animal illegal, but an animal is its owner's responsibility and part of that responsibility is dealing with the consequences of unwanted reproduction. If you don't want your cat to have babies then get it sterilised: it's less worry for you and it's better for your animal's health.

Secondly, the private individual should not have to deal with the problem of stray or abandoned animals: this is the responsibility of the Mayors. They should have a contract with a fourrière and should publish at the town hall the procedures to follow if one finds an animal en divagation.

Most importantly, harming or killing pets is illegal. If you do it you risk a prison sentence or a fine. We are carrying out a survey to find out how many pets have disappeared or been injured or killed in the town. If it proves necessary we shall inform the gendarmes.

We started a facebook page where everyone can share news and photos of Jacquelines cats: https://www.facebook.com/LesChatsDeJacqueline