Monday 9th December 2002

The first task is to rendezvous on the other side of the complex with a local German lady. She has been looking after a number of cats abandoned by ex-residents and we are to try to photograph them. Ted wants to put them up on the German Tierhilfe website to get them re-homed. Having been domestic cats, re-homing them (if possible) is the preferable solution.

After that, we go back to Stella Canaris to continue the trapping slog. Apparently, this is much harder work than usual as we are trying to cover an enormous site on foot. Normally, we drive to a site, pick up a few cats and then drive back to the surgery. Walking all over a multi-acre site is new and tiring - especially when carrying several cages or a trap containing an enraged feral.

We get to do our first release - of the big black tom we caught yesterday. Back on his territory, we open the cage and he's off without so much as a backward glance or even a thank you for carrying him all over the shop.

This is the best part of the job - letting the cats go back on their patch. It makes it all worth while.

Being inordinately lazy, Mike is cheered immensely by the discovery of lifts to get us up and down the hillside - at least to a couple of the trapping sites.

For a while, we are sent with Ted and Marshall up the coast to Costa Calma; just north of where we are staying. Cats have been spotted at Monica Beach Hotel. We walk around this complex with envious glances at the pool and beach until we think like cats. It's hot, it's the middle of the day, what would you be doing if you were a cat?

Kipping gently somewhere cool - like in the pines at the back of the tennis courts. Shady and, most importantly, where the food and water bowls are left by kind staff and guests. And there they were - a dozen or so cats so tame that a simple rattle of the Munchies box got them sitting in the cages.

Guiltily, we took 5 of them back to the Stella Canaris and left the others to cope with the remainder. Very successfully, as we found on our return. Another batch on the way back with Marshall so Ted, Ros and Mike went looking for more.

We met a German couple who were concerned about the fate of the cats - a ginger one in particular - and Ted (being a fluent German speaker) was able to explain the plot so they went off happy, looking forward to seeing their favourites again on their return the next day.

At the beach side of the Crystal Hotel, Ros spots a black male in the undergrowth and with no mechanical aids, gets him quietly into a cage while Ted and Mike hide behind the scenery. This is much more impressive than Mike's 87-point turn to get the car pointing back up the small service road. If it hadn't been for Ted's guidance, we might still be wedged fast.

For the evening, guess what? Back to the Stella Canaris for yet more trapping. There is a concerted effort to catch the black mother and kittens we spotted before as they were sniffing round the dustbins at the back of the staff quarters. We got the kittens and then Ted came up with the idea of using them as bait to get the mother. But no luck.

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