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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Feral Cats Of France

When we visited Sally and Paul in France a few weeks back, we noticed a small family of kittens that Sally explained were ferrel. We then learnt that our household friends aren't in the same manner as we treat them in the UK. I asked Sally to explain a little more about France's attitude towards our friendly felines and canines. Also enjoy the most adorable and photogenic kittens I've ever seen.

We moved to France four years ago. It was the culmination of a thirty year dream for myself and my husband and we have had absolutely no regrets since moving here.

When we came here, we were already dog lovers and brought our two poodles, Milly and Lily with us. They were no problem whatsoever and they settled fabulously in their new environment. With a much bigger garden and a plethora of country walks on our doorstep, it was utter bliss!
Kittens
Kittens
It was very soon after we arrived that we realised that the French attitude to dogs and cats is so very different to ours. In fact only within the last two years, the French government has passed a law which protects cats and dogs as living beings. Before that they were considered as 'property', much the same as a cow or a sheep. Yes a living being, but with no more rights than a farm animal.

We also very quickly noticed that (especially in very rural areas) there is a huge problem with feral cats. It has since been explained to us that the majority of French don't believe in sterilising or castrating their animals. It`s a combination of culture and also finance. Although much cheaper than in the UK, vets bills here are still expensive and most people simply don't have the funds to spare to sterilise their pets. The result of this is sadly that if a dog or cat has babies then the owner will sadly either drown the young or drive off somewhere with them and just dump them because they also don`t have the means to then feed them once they have been weaned.
Girl playing with cat
Mother cat
Fortunately there are animal refuges available but these are full to brimming and they just don`t have the resources to handle the huge numbers of unwanted animals. Consequently a number of 'Associations' (charities) have sprung up, mainly founded by English people who will do anything they can to try and raise money to help these poor animals and find homes for them.

I personally  know one amazing lady who has lived here for over 20 years and has spent her time and money trying to improve the situation. When she is not doing her day job, she goes out and traps feral cats and takes them to be sterilised before either (sadly) releasing them back to the wild or trying to find them a forever home. Many of the cats she saves are unfortunately already pregnant so she has the additional expense of trying to look after several kittens or in extreme cases paying vets bills for abortions as well as sterilisation. 
Kittens
Kittens
Kittens
Kittens
But it`s not all doom and gloom, let's get back to our story with our two beloved poodles. We were persuaded to visit one of the animal refuges back in 2014 and fell in love with a gorgeous little Bichon which had been rescued along with several others from a cruel unscrupulous dog breeder. So it was that we welcomed our adorable Bella into the family. She is very much our daughter`s dog and sleeps beside her on the pillow of her double bed every night. She has grown from a terrified little scrap into an adorable bundle of fun who makes us smile every day.

Sadly our little Milly passed away last year so we were once again a two dog family. Then one evening I was surfing Facebook as usual and saw a picture of the most wretched looking apricot toy poodle. I contacted the originator of the picture to be told that this little thing had spent over two years locked in a small room with 30 other dogs before she was rescued following a tip off to the Gendarmes. Now she was languishing at one of the refuges in the area waiting for someone to fall in love with her. Well needless to say she came to us within a week of me first seeing her picture. 
Milly
Milly
We named her Molly and set about trying to show her how to be the adorable dog we hoped she would become. She spent her first three months with us just lying in her bed. She had never had any human contact, never been outside, never seen grass and was just so traumatised we began to wonder if we had bitten off more than we could chew. I am delighted to say that our patience was finally rewarded. Our gorgeous Molly now loves to follow us out into the garden and plays with her tennis ball. She has now also started tentatively getting close to our other two fur babies. She is still very skittish and doesn't really like to be touched too much but she is a totally different girl from the poor thing who arrived chez nous nearly six months ago.
Lily
Lily
Molly
Molly
Bella and Lily
Bella (left) and Lily
So that's our story. We love our life here in France and although Lily is the only one remaining of the two adorable pooches we brought with us, we have been blessed with Bella and Molly and couldn't imagine our family without them. My husband keeps saying that 3 dogs are enough. I tend to agree with him but who knows what will happen in the future. Watch this space...

What do you think of this increasing ferrel problem in France? Let me know in the comments below.


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