Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

24 May 2017

Cats of Essaouira

I must have been a cat in a previous life, I’m sure, having rescued a number in the UK I seem to be finding my calling over in Morocco now, as have the amazing volunteers of HSAM, Help Street Animals Morocco.

here is one of the great ladies helping my Colin
Last time I visited Essaouira I thought the animals looked ok on the whole, most cats finding their own little territory in a square or alleyway where they occasionally get food and most often get a little plastic bowl of water. Relying on the kindness of strangers and some locals who can afford to share their meagre earnings, the street cats are part of what makes this fishing port wonderful.

On my last trip we noticed how they mostly had a bit of their ear missing, I wrongly assumed that this was due to either fighting or skin cancer, which I know can damage cats ears if they are in full sun everyday.  They do seem to like to sit in the sunny spots as well, and if lucky will get a lovely rug to lie on outside a carpet shop.  So the ears, well, this trip I found out that it’s an indication of whether they have been neutered or not, when the HSAM go round they take all those intact males and females,  spay and neuter in one day and return the cat to it’s exact location on capture, with a snip made on one ear to indicate that this animal cannot breed. 

The major difference between my last visit and this is kitten season.  Those cats who had evaded capture by the HSAM have bred and there are kittens everywhere.  A few problems here, the mother becomes quite poorly as there isn’t enough food to sustain a feeding mum, and many of the kittens are born with health problems which need attention.  So It’s no coincidence that the HSAM visit at this time, to ensure that those which have bred and the new babies all receive the necessary treatment.  Not only do they treat on the spot, by cleaning wounds and applying worm and flea treatment, but they also have a fortified milk for the nursing felines.  I’m sure that what I witnessed was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the team achieve.  

early morning rounds before the Saha Kfe opens

local cats to the square where the Saha Kfe is in the corner

if you are lucky he will move over so you can order some lovey food and juices

The volunteers from HSAM try to get familiar with the cats in their designated area, often helped by local shop keepers and cafe owners who have spotted this or that.  I found a male cat who had definitely been through the wars, bad wounds around his ears and scars on his face, I fed the poor little man until the ladies did their rounds and took him away.  When he returned the next morning, now called Colin, they told me how they had been looking for him for ages and back at the clinic they were delighted to finally be able to help him.  Colin lives around the square where the Saha Kfe is, so please look out for him if you visit, the ladies who work here not only serve brilliant food but have a little group of lovely cats which they monitor.  If you want to sit and share your space in a cat friendly cafe, please be sure to head over to Saha Kfe, near the clock tower, just up from Bab Sbaa gate. It’s in the corner of a square where there are carpets, clothes and a pharmacy, ( just round the corner from Villa Maroc). 

some of the regulars at the Saha Kfe

my boy Colin after his treatment from the HSAM
So back to the pussy cats, delighted by the help that little Colin received, I found somewhere to buy some cat food, this, of course,  made me very popular, and like the pied piper of Essaouira you could find me before breakfast, kneeling on the pavement dishing out food. I also became attached to a little girl cat and managed to point her out to the HSAM in the hope that they would find her after I left.

If you would like to support the HSAM, please find them on facebook where you will see daily updates, during my first week they treated 308 cats and were just moving onto dogs.
On the HSAM page you will find a link to donating, and every few pounds will go directly to some kind of medicine or food supplement, nothing is wasted.  Alternatively, you can sign up to volunteer.

They are grateful for any bit of help on the ground, so if you are in Morocco and you see the pale blue t-shirts bearing their logo, feel free to say hi to the volunteers who will explain what they are doing.  Cats often wander off and hide away so sometimes the more eyes on the ground the better.

SAHA KFE in the corner with the red umbrella, look for the knobbly trees and you are in the right place

poor old Colin with bad ears, the food has painkillers in  it
favourite drink containing avocado, dates and nuts.  My beautiful friend Anouk in the background

great breakfast and lunch here, please find this hidden gem

Facebook page with links to HSAM https://www.facebook.com/helpthestreetanimalsofmorocco/

Coming soon, more about best cafes and restaurants around Essaouira, great places to stay and visit and more general advice for visiting. 

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