Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ArtTraveler photo gallery: the art of feeding feral Spanish mountain felines

"Over yonder, mira a los gatos en grande colonia!" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
I applied fresh eyes and a little digi-foto action this week while climbing the village to the Laberinto Cat Colony, which I feed daily at 10:30 a.m., mas o menos.

As I said in a recent post about flaneuring, I often ignored my immediate environment, my barrio, the very place I live—Canillas de Albaida, a mountain village of 1,000 people, mas or menos, an old Moorish white village about 19 kilometers from the Med in Andalusia above Torre del Mar.

So, I decided to feed the frisky feral felines, all 10 of them, with fresh documentary eyes (along with my funky Fujifilm camera).

Cats are special, smarter than most dogs, although I love all animals, and have hand-fed a Siberian tiger whole chickens in Florida, like pass the skinned bird into the waiting mouth of a massive beast, who if you were not repeating a ritual that tasted good, would as soon have me as lunch.

It helped to have good reflexes, hand to mouth. Big cats, then little ones.

I arrived in Canillas de Albaida more than five years ago. I forget.

But arrived I did with one cat, Nikita, whom I seduced with sardines in nearby Competa, a mutual adoption ritual.

Then I met Kate Morris, whose love of cats and dogs tops anything experienced—then 11 dogs, mas o menos, and 24 cats, mas o menos.

Before long, my bleeding heart found solace with daily companionship of 10 furballs. So much for kitty birth control.

Even feral cats, once they get to know you, demand allot and want to control you like domestic cats.

The cat´s internal clock lives not in its cranium but in its gut.

Hunger, food and the fiesta of making food happen is something special to behold.

At the appointed time (when the rest of Spain is having breakfast) I start out on my five-minute assault on gravity, climbing the corridors called streets, winding my way in a bewildering souk-like maze, making the final ascent up a series of decorative steps lined with flowers and casas, some occupied, some ruins, where these feral felines find sanctuary.

Thanks to our Canillas Animal Trust Charity (CAT) that Kate Morris and I founded about five years ago, CAT has neutered 250 feral cats in equal genders and fed those we can.

The art of cat feeding, as you can imagine, is not particularly skill-laden.

I prefer to look at this as an art happening, a free performance of frisky feral cats illustrating their human others’ daily struggle for survival and the vital importance that we identify with their needs and suffering, including our own.

Cat compassion and zero population control

"Greeting Committee" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Greeting Committee II" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Food Fiesta for Feral Felines" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Feliciano" (I trapped one of his inner courtyard ferals for neutering.) Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011) (It´s his finger you see above.)

"Feliciano´s dog likes cat food!" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Two Birds on a Wire" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Waiting for the 5th Course" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Cat Squat" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Three Birds on a Wire" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Back for Seconds" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Tapas por la tarde" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"I love you" (Tiger) Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

ArtTraveler notes:

After living at the Hotel Queen Mary in Budapest (3.5 stars), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern (23 rooms); 

The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510;;

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop.