European Union Cat Adoption Part Deux

European Union Cat Adoption Part Deux

 

We have another cat!

It was a long time in the making, but we were apprehensive having two cats in a rented place. But you only live once, and there are so many shelter kitties that really belong to a furrever home So, here’s our (mostly happy) story of another European Union cat adoption. European Union cat adoption is not very common so I wanted to write another post about it.

We adopted. Again.

We wanted to adopt from Spain. Neutering is barely practiced there and more cats are just abandoned than here in Germany. There is less of a culture of protecting your pets and seeing them as part of your family, and shelters often receive no funding at all. As a fact, many shelters are swamped with animals, and while state shelters have a very strict destruction policy. It’s just a few weeks if an animal is not claimed or adopted. Private no-kill shelters are bursting with deserving animals as a result. We adopted our No.1 Kitty from Spain and the experience was a really good one. So our second kitty was really to come from Spain.

What kind of cat would we adopt?

We wanted an adult short-haired cat of 1-8 years age, healthy enough to go out, and who would match our Leia’s temperament. Because when you adopt from Spain, you’re better sure! This is the main reason we hesitated so long. I do not condone returning a cat to a shelter in any situation, but sometimes it may be the last resort if the cats do not get on. I love pedigree cats, but given there are so many cats with no home, I wanted a rescue cat. Looking for another Siamese-mix or blue cat in a rescue seemed a good compromise.

 

cat rescue Spain
Leia’s listing (photo by adagatsanimales.blogspot.com)
cat rescue Spain
Leia in her new home: a few months in, she’s a fierce little ninja cat who loves to play outdoors as well as help with homework

We had a few false starts

We sponsor a couple of kitties from Gatos de La Linea, a private shelter in La Linea in Southern Spain. One kitty we saw seemed perfect as a boyfriend for Leia. Would this be our next European Union cat adoption?

Adopt a rescue cat from Spain
Rocky – in our eyes, the perfect boyfriend for Leia (photo by El Gato Andaluz)
Spanish cat rescue El Gato Andaluz
Isn’t he a gorgeous boy? (photo by El Gato Andaluz)

He looked perfect, and he even complemented Leia’s colouring.  Okay… that’s a bit shallow, but we fell in love with this fluffy beauty. He seemed to match Leia’s character. We patiently waited for him to be castrated while discussing whether he would make a suitable boyfriend. And then, boom – one day he was gone, adopted by someone else. We hadn’t made up our minds fast enough.

Our second sponsored kitty was a young blue boy. He had been operated on for a fractured femur but recovered well but remained really shy.  But isn’t he gorgeous, too?

spanish rescue cat adoption
Levante (photo by El Gato Andaluz)

Sadly, Levante tested positive for Feline Leukaemia Virus. As we contemplated whether we’d risk a non-FelV and a FelV positive kitty living together, he became sick very suddenly and passed away within a few days. Although I’d never met him, I was terribly upset. At least he had a safe place and the medical treatment he needed in the  last months of his short life. But I am so sad he never experienced the love of his forever family. The shelter did all they could to love him and help him settle but sadly, he did not get to live long enough to find his forever home.

Not all rescues will treat you equally – and some care should be exercised

Another rescue organisation said we must have a cat flap, and as renters looking to buy we’d be in an “uncertain situation” and therefore unsuitable adopters. Seriously! We filled in form after form about our living situation, income, where the cat would be allowed, what we feed the cat, how far we live from a road, and more! The fact that we are both pretty experienced cat owners and already had a rescue cat from Spain living quite happily with us didn’t count for anything!

Another one (let’s not name them but ask me privately if you wish) insisted that all cats are to be kept indoors. Or the cat we enquired about was no longer available although we saw the cats photographs on the organisations websites for weeks to come.

Our vet also voiced some concerns that there may be a trade with pedigree-looking cats. However – paying a adoption fee of around 200EUROs and adopting a cat that is vaccinated, chipped, health-checked and spayed I do not consider a profitable business. I keep wondering whether there are black sheep, but having followed the organisations below for quite some time now I am convinced they are legit and serious about the welfare of the animals and nothing else.

Then we saw Maite

We thought the hoops we got to jump to adopt a cat from Spain were hanging too high. I admit to the habit of checking cat rescues every now and then, to see how they are doing, whether they might need a donation, which cats are for adoption. I was kitty-cruising quite a bit  this spring. I had my heart set on another Siamese-mix, or a blue cat. But the most important thing was it should match our Leia in age and temperament, and could be allowed outside into our fenced garden.

When I casually visited cat rescue sites again, I saw this pretty girl.

I hadn’t had any contact with Estepona Katzen before but as a fellow German, I had followed them for a year or so.  I wrote an enquiry and received a very friendly reply back, asking for further details. We learnt that Maite was found in the streets, crying for help – she was either abandoned or had gotten lost.

We also learnt that she was a calm and agreeable kitty. But often she would just sit in her little bed looking sad, because the other two cats she shared the room with bullied her.

Now that I know her a bit, there is no way this cat could have gotten lost. She loves to stay in our garden, never far away from our house. She is a greedy glutton, too.  A single rattle of the food container will make her zoom back in within seconds. So – probably abandoned, like so many cats in Spain. She looks very much Russian Blue, but has a slightly funny gait and a kink in her tail – perhaps a birth defect, perhaps an old injury.

Our adoption: How it went

So, we seem to live pretty much out in the sticks, so I made a video and took lots of pictures of the house. And we were offered to adopt Maite and offered a date to pick her up in Hanover Airport, about 300km away. The contract was done by email – a week before the adoption, we received a pdf contract, paid the adoption fee, scanned the contract and emailed it back. Essentially, the contract contains essentials like how to keep the cat, that the cat must be registered, that the rescue must be notifeid if the cat gets lost – nothing really unusual. It’s only to protect the cat!

When the big day came, we drove to the airport. It was deserted, and when the flight from Malaga arrived, it was pretty easy to pick out our flight guardian and his big transport box… Maite was travelling in the hold together with another cat, and was only slightly sedated, but calm enough to be put into the cat carrier we had bought. We also received her pet passport. As for any good rescue, Maite had been spayed, vaccinated and chipped. She also had a health check before travel. After about twenty minutes in the car, the sedation had worn off (unlike with Leia: she had travelled in a soft bag in the cabin and was out for pretty much the entire journey home) and she began to really rattle the bars of her cage. She ended up traveling in the front seat for most of the journey.

After arriving home, we put food and water out and let her rest in our lounge, where we put her basket and a cat toilet. She wasn’t interested in any of it but settled on the sofa with me and slept!

Settling in

Just after a couple hours, she started eating, These Spanish cats settle so quickly. We kept Leia away, but of course, she smelled a cat… and kept miaowing outside the living room. Maite was very interested and chirped on the other side of the closed door… so we let them sniff each other while a lot of treats were present. And repeated the next day. And the next. Then, as both seemed friendly, we let them together – there was a lot of sniffing, then graceful ignoring of each other. At night, we still kept them apart.

rescue cat Spain
Maite a few hours after arrival. An Andalucian cat, she loves the sun!

rescue cat Spain

How to tell your cat she has a new sister

Over the next few weeks, we continued to socialize the cats. Knowing Leia, we had no doubt she would be top cat. Ha. How wrong we were!

These cats couldn’t be more different.

Leia is the agreeable, vocal one. You can squeeze and cuddle her and she actually loves it. She starts purring the minute you touch her. She loves to walk on a leash. She also loves to explore outside the garden which I am not terribly happy about, and caused a few very sleepless night when madame was probably seeing boyfriends or get stuck in a neighbours yard and just would not come home. Many discussions have been had in this house about how much to restrain the cats movements – we found our happy balance now, with access to our fenced but not imprenetrable garden, and easy access to a neighbours garden which is abandoned and loved by the cats. By giving the cat good access to the garden and one access to the outside she knows her wayaround  and has not gotten lost since.

Maite is… well, Maite. She is pretty. She is nice if you let her do her own thing, This involves sleeping in the bed and rolling in the dirt, often in quick succession. She loves food and never goes far from the house and is therefore very easy to bring back into the house. Getting a purr out of her takes a lot of tactical tickling and stroking, but we think she’s happy!

Do the cats get on?

The girls get on well but they’re not cuddlers. If you want cuddlers, best get siblings or cats that have been living together -and often the ones that need to stay together wait longer for their forever home. They love to play together, though. Before we got Maite, Leia often seemed bored and miaowed a lot. That has stopped now.

rescue cat Spain
The usual status: they like each others company but no cuddles

Sometimes, they love to display their togetherness, though. I’m working on a third cat. But two cats can make logistics like vet visits and cat care when we go on holiday already quite challenging! Leia travels well so if we just visit family, we will take them with us.

So, adopt from abroad or not?

My experience with both cats was very good. I would encourage anyone thinking about getting a cat to consider adoption forst and foremost. If you see a cat on a rescue site in a different country, this should not be a deal breaker. Also, I would love to hear about your experience with adopting a kitty, and I hope this post encourages you to give adoption a thought and perhaps consider making a donation to help these brave and tireless rescues in their work.

 

More information about our European Union cat adoptions

Estepona Katzen

We adopted our second cat from the private rescue Estepona Katzen. It is led by a German lady.  The pre-checking was all very unbureaucratic – I don’t htink there was even a form involved, You have to describe your living conditions and your experience with cats pretty accurately, and if possible, the rescue will do a home check. The adoption is regulated by an adoption contract, which will be emailed to you and you send it back signed. A few days before the cat was due to fly out, I transferred the adoption fee of 140EURO and the price for the flight ticket (80 EURO) to the organisations account. Our cat arrived at the agreed date and time with a flight guardian, and was spayed, chipped, vaccinated and health-checked.  I can fully recommend Estepona Katzen. It is also part of your commitment to the new family member that the cats chip is registered in a pet registry. We registered both cats with TASSO. Petlog offers similar services in the UK.

Adagats

Our first cat was adopted from Adagats Animales.

The Adagats adoption went via a German lady who acts as a contact person between adopters and the charity. Our cat had been abandoned when pregnant, was rescued from the streets, and was moved to barcelona with her kittens. They lived with a foster family in an apartment in Barcelona, and all kittens quickly found new homes, but Leia had to wait a little longer. Leia was pretty much as described. She was clean and came with a pet passport, chip, and  vaccinations. Because sometimes the cats live in crowded foster homes, we were advised to de-flea and de-worm after arrival, which we did. Leia had a slightly sticky eye. So we took her to the vet once she was settled, and she got treated for an infection, plus eye ointment for several weeks. We were warned not to expect a top-condition pet, so this was not a problem for us. Also, the stress of moving may bring out latent infections. Almost a year after adoption, the cat is absolutely fine. She has developed a love for the outdoors and tree-climbing, and has become rather muscular and fast. She just goes to the vet for checkups and vaccinations.

El Gato Andaluz

Our sponsored cats live with El Gato Andaluz, and they regularly adopt cats to Europe. They are a really friendly small charity, English is spoken there, and they have a German contact. They know their animals well, and adoption appears rather uncomplicated. Prior to adoption, pets are microchipped and vaccinated.  They require at least 21 days preparation before the pet can travel. They use mainly scheduled flights and flight guardians with whom the pets travel. Contact is very good, and they respond reliably to enquiries.

How to help

Even if you’re not in a  position to adopt, please consider visiting deserving rescues and consider making a donation. The volunteers often work unpaid and go out of their way to rescue abandoned cats and dogs! They receive no government support and often have to finance themselves 100% from donations. A good way to help is to sponsor a cat – you pay a small fixed amount every month for a year (or indefinitely). 10 EURO a month is not much for me, just a couple cups of coffee in a fancy cafe – I always sponsor one or two cats at a time, and when I have a little money spare, I tend to make a one-off donation. You can donate quite easily on most sites – I always do a SEPA transfer, which works easily, but many accept other online payment services, too. And did you know that you can deduct most charitable donations from your tax bill, too?

How to pick your adoption organisation

There are so many  organisations who adopt within the EU, and most have a web presence or at least a social media account.

Take a look at as many as you can, feel free to contact them, and see how your communication goes! I found the regular contact important to get a good gut feeling about the adoption. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the lady who helped us adopt Leia.  She was the main contact to Adagats.  Whether the cat will be left outside or be an indoor cat,  what their stance is on keeping only one cats – there is only one way to find out.

The rescues I have been in contact with will insist on a home visit or a reference, and an adoption contract. Most will also tell you what the cat comes with, such as rabies vaccine, microchip and EU passport (required before international travel), parasite treatment.  They may have received some other vaccinations. All will be checked by a vet before they can travel. Also, bear in mind that an international adoption will cost more,  as more vaccinations and a pet passport are required, and often the pet will travel by air.

There are regular warnings that there are “black sheep” who trade in animals and generate a profit.  It would be wrong to see this as a blanket warning, because there are so many homeless animals out there.  And there are  far too few adopters, and these animal charities work hard to lessen the suffering of these strays who still end up sick, poisoned and dead well before their time.

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