Plovdiv is a very ancient town with lots of history and traditions. If you are already familiar with the city you probably know what is symbolic for it – the Old Town, the hills, the Revival Houses, The Maritsa river, Ancient theater … The hills and the river are even on the coat of arms of the city. But nowadays there is one more symbol you can see everywhere. The Cats of Plovdiv.
Yes, cats. Many visitors notice that we have many cats in the town and they are so loved that we even have them on souvenirs. The felines can be found on badges, bags, t-shirts and so on. We even have them as a part of our Arts and Crafts Tour. But how did that happen?
In the past Plovdiv was an important trading center in the Ottoman empire. Have you been to Turkey? Did you see all the houses for stray kitties and the food people provide for them? It is said that a cat saved the prophet Muhammad from the deadly bite of a venomous snake. Nowadays they are still very much appreciated because of that and also admired for their cleanliness.
Do we have so many cats in Plovdiv because of the Ottoman times? It is hard to say, but the fact is the animals are here sharing our town. We all have to keep in mind that a human city is not the natural habitat of any animal and living nearby huge streets, boulevards, lots of cars, etc. is quite dangerous for any animal. It is always heartbreaking to see a struggling kitty or one that is hurt. This is why we should be responsible and kind regarding our feline friends and find a proper way to keep their count under control and help to get more of them adopted.
Keep in mind that all organizations working for the wellbeing of the stray animals have limited capacity and fundings. Therefore, they cannot provide help for all the calls they get. But there is always a way to support such organizations – by donating money, by volunteering to be a part of their crew, or simply by sharing information about them.
Cat House is a non-profit organization providing shelter and medical treatment to sick and hurt abandoned and stray animals. They try to find permanent homes for all their patients. Also, they help to keep the population of stray cats under some control by neutering stray animals. You can support them by making a contribution or becoming part of their team of volunteers.
Another organization started by volunteers. With the support of Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V. and Streunerhilfe Bulgarien, the Castration center tries to keep the population of cats in Plovdiv under some control by providing free neutering. Of course, stray cats that don’t have homes stay in the center after the operation until they are completely healed. After that, they are being brought back from where they were taken. The organization needs help in locating and catching stray animals that have to be neutered.
If you have noticed cats with a small cut on one ear – that is the mark – kitty was neutered.
This organization provides information and educational materials on cat welfare. They organize events to raise awareness about the animals in the city. Cat Lovers Plovdiv are working with schools and kids to foster love and compassion towards animals. They try to make a difference by changing the way of thinking about animals in our society and through knowledge. Because a big percentage of the stray animals in every town is the ex-pets. If you feel like this is your cause don’t hesitate to volunteer.
Although this article is dedicated to the lovely felines, let’s not forget the stray dogs that also share the town with us and them. The volunteers from Animal Welfare Bulgaria work together with the Municipal shelter in Plovdiv. They work often with the dogs and started a program called “Walk and cuddle with us”. Two years now every Saturday there are volunteers going to the municipal shelter and walking and cuddling the dogs inside it, which helps the dogs to socialize and gives them a better chance to get adopted. So, if you are more of a dog person – feel free to support and help them in any possible way.
Stray animals are a part of our everyday life and a part of our hometown –
whether we notice them or pretend we don’t. One way to make Plovdiv a nicer place is by making the number of suffering animals decline. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”