Cats in Old Havana

Regina Cano

HAVANA TIMES — Walking through the historic part of the city always stimulates taking a good look around you, because if you don’t stay abreast of its changes it will seem at some point that you’re no longer in it.

The environment of this place has continued to change for a long time. First it was changed by collapsing buildings, and perhaps since at least this past decade it has been changed by massive renovation, restoration and maintenance of the physical environment and businesses in a neighborhood known as being the oldest one in the city of Havana.

Well people!, in one of my explorations that made for an eventful visit to Old Havana, I ran into a collection of cats that were taking advantage of the restoration of the Palace of the Captains General to breed and survive. But what made me notice and discover them was their being cared for by a woman with several plastic bags and plastic plates.

From what this lady said, some 23 animals (between them cats and kittens) were hiding on the side of the Palace under a container that serves as the construction office. Every day they would wait there for the generosity of this woman.

The woman, apparently in her sixties, says that people who pass by either abuse the little creatures or proceed on past with indifference.

She therefore devotes two times a day to coming and bringing them something to eat.

She can’t bear seeing the helplessness in which they live, surviving thanks only to their being able to hide under the container. She doesn’t live nearby, but she does work in the neighborhood, so she avails herself of the proximity by providing food as best she can through her own resources.

She obviously loves the animals and her sensitivity towards them makes her dedicate herself in this way especially to the kittens, which are suffering, suffering but growing up healthy – which is the reason for her joy.

As for me, I’m unable to do much for them since I already have enough cats in my care. Still, I’m gratified to know that there are city residents here who — though unable to provide an overall solution to the matter — do what they can for stray animals.

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Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.


6 thoughts on “Cats in Old Havana

  • May 20, 2013 at 6:36 am
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    The woman’s name is Marta. She is a book seller in Plaza de Armas.

    In October the Spanky Project and Animal Balance conducted Cuba’s first mass Trap – Neuter – Return of cats.

    Marta’s colony was one of the colonies included in the program.

    During the one week campaña over 300 cats were sterilized.

  • April 15, 2013 at 6:30 am
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    Someone who cares and does something to help! Aniplant (Havana Based) also do similar work to The Spanky Project/AVAC but they have a big job on their hands and rely on donations and volunteers most of it from abroad.

  • April 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm
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    thank goodness there are people like this elderly lady, animals cannot speak to seek help.

  • September 5, 2012 at 10:36 am
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    There is an association called the Spanky Project that spays and neuters animals in Havana and surrounding areas. APAC Varadero does the same for animals in Varadero. They would love donations to help contiune their work. I’m not sure about the posting of websites here but a simple Google search will find both organizations. APAC Varadero also has a Facebook page. I’m not sure about the Spanky Project.

  • September 5, 2012 at 9:45 am
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    What that lady does every day is AMAZING!

    I hope there will be someone who will help her, too, when she is in need.
    Look at the plates. They are clean and look quite new.

    I am really very impressed and touched by her responsibility for the animals.
    Good Bless her.

  • September 1, 2012 at 6:39 am
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    It’s so inspiring to see that there are people all over the world that care for animals. God Bless that lady! I just wonder what with the strict food rationing in the country what type of food is she feeding them? Probably not meat which is what cats need. But alas, they probably also feed off mice and rats that they hunt [or at least I hope]. Cuba seriously needs some type of animal welfare organization to care for its homeless animals. I hear that there are many homeless dogs and cats in Havana many of whom need medical attention. Recently, I read a story about some Canadians that brought back to Canada a homeless dog that they found in Cuba and that they felt sorry for.

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