Tally is our newest family member and now the official Habla Ya Bocas mascot. She is also the cutest thing I have seen in a long time, and since she shares most of my work days on or under my desk nibbling at my feet, I felt it would be cool sharing her story (at least for me!). I also want my personal heroes Tammy and Molly (former Habla Ya students) to be able to follow what has become of their little rescue kitten, since they have now finished their Spanish program and already left the country.
Only 9 weeks ago, kitten Tally somehow got separated from her mother, and was left to survive on her own. She was only 3 weeks old then, and unable to hunt for food yet. At that age, not having a mother is a certain death sentence for a kitten, and when she was found she was only skin and bones, had infected wounds, was flea infested, full of parasites, and was barely breathing. Flies started to circle her, just waiting for her to pass away... and had anyone waited only one day longer, she would most certainly not have made it.
But fortunately for Tally, two Habla Ya students with a big heart passed by just in time and saved her. Tammy and Molly were on their way to their 8 am Group 4 class, and when they saw her lying in the dirt, they picked her up and brought this little kitten to the school. Not knowing what to do with her, they handed her over to Gilberto, their Spanish teacher.
If you think Tally the cat looks bad in these photos, you should have seen her in real life... poor little thing!
Gilberto always wanted to have a cat, so he was happy that his students had found this little critter. Gilberto had never had a cat before, and didn’t know how to properly care for this undernourished, wounded rescue. For some reason, he must have heard of my Brigitte Bardot reputation (only the animal activist part!!!), and so he gave her to me and I somehow became her “baby-sitter” . I have 4 cats myself, two of which are rescues, and my friends call me the crazy cat lady (I am married and in my thirties, but I just happen to really, really love cats). Since I couldn’t take her home with me (5 would be slightly above my own limit), the only solution was to keep her in my office during the day.
We took her to the vet more than once, and treated her eye infection and wounds. Now she is clean and her fur is fluffy. She has no parasites and is well nourished, and full of energy. She’s got some serious meat on her bones now! Over here we nicknamed her “Taliban’ because she became a little terrorist. Working with her is a challenge. She loves to bite cables and feet, unplug the router while I am working, sleeping on my keyboard, and sometimes chatting gibberish to my colleagues in our internal chat system.
Gilberto has decided that the school would be a better home for her, so she became an official Habla Ya resident and family member. Soon she will be old enough to run around the school property on her own, however I am a bit scared that she will run to the street and get hit by a car. I guess that is a risk that we will have to take if we want her to be free and happy.
Here are some pictures of healthy Tally, happy and full of energy.
Here is happy Tally harassing me while I try to work!
Sharing stories like that always make me happy, and when I see that people care about animals as much as I do, it gives me hope that more adorable creatures like this one get their happy ending.
The community of Boquete (where our other school is) is currently leading the way with their Amigos de Animales volunteer program, which operates a monthly spay clinic sponsored by donations. They catch strays, sterilize/castrate them, and then release them again. Pet owners can also bring their animals and get them fixed for $5. Hopefully in Bocas del Toro we'll follow their lead soon. There is a huge need for a spay clinic on our island, to prevent stray dogs and cats from endlessly reproducing, only to die young hit by cars or by starvation and disease.
I’ve heard rumors that such a spay clinic may be something a local veterinarian wants to launch in the near future, and if/when that happens, Habla Ya would be more than happy to recruit volunteers to help. Of course I include myself in this.