THE KUSADASI CAT SNIP
In 1998, Chelmsford Cats Protection League member Jackie Short was so appalled at the plight of cats (and dogs) in Kusadasi, Turkey that she wanted to do something to alleviate their suffering. Chelmsford CPL and Chelmsford veterinary clinics helped her with veterinary and cat-trapping supplies. Chelmsford CP also helped to publicise a "Kusadasi Cat Snip" fundraising campaign (separate from CP funds) to enable Jackie to go to Kusadasi and trap-neuter-release cats and to change local attitudes about abandoning and poisoning unwanted animals. Her account of the situation in Kusadasi, serialised in Chelmsford CPL newsletters (which I edited at that time), is often harrowing. Her dedication to helping not only cats, but also some of the stray dogs, is an inspiration to cat workers. Because of newsletter space constraints, her accounts were necessarily condensed. If you travel to Kusadasi, please look out for the vet and the animal shelter mentioned, all donations (money, food or veterinary supplies) will be welcome.
2nd August 1998
I returned from Turkey on Tuesday. The trip was worthwhile but we met a number of difficulties. The most serious was that the recovery space we were promised was unsuitable - it was a room in a dog shelter which had no pens and had a six inch gap under the door and a window with no glass in it. Because few Turkish people keep cats as pets they seem unaware that, unlike dogs, they donít stay where they are put. As the shelter was out in the wilderness, some miles from the town, had a recovering cat run away it would have had no source of food and would have been worse off than on the streets of the town. We tried everywhere to get cages or weldmesh that we could make pens with but without success. The only things the vet could offer us were plastic cat carriers, but as the temperature varied from 41 -45 degrees Centigrade - the hottest it has been in Turkey for 5 years - the cats would have died of heat-stroke in those plastic boxes. We had therefore to use the traps and crush cage as recovery pens. As the female cats needed 3 days to recover that meant that the traps were unavailable for 3 days. We could only then catch friendly male cats who could recover in the plastic boxes in the vetís surgery for a day before release.
This was a very great disappointment. The vet was prepared to start operating at 6.30 am to sterilize as many cats as possible and with recovery space we could have done 3 times as many as we did. Our hotel manager hated cats and we had to open everything we brought into the hotel, once he knew what we were doing, to make sure we werenít smuggling in a cat.
The second difficulty was peopleís attitudes. We took photocopied notices, in Turkish, explaining what we were doing and why. None the less we met quite a bit of resistance from local people who felt we were interfering with Allahís will by sterilizing the cats. They didnít mind that hundreds of the cats and kittens starve at the end of the tourist season, or are poisoned with strychnine (and we had positive proof and individual testimonies to the truth of this) but we still must not interfere with Ďnatureí. On 3 occasions we were made to release female cats we had trapped by people who were not their owners, for this reason. Not speaking Turkish and being on foreign ground we were in a difficult position to resist.
Some of the callousness and cruelty we witnessed and were told about was very depressing. There were also positives. Setting cats free again, at the spot where we found them (usually very early in the morning to avoid interference) once they had recovered and had had a good meal was a good feeling. We then checked them daily and fed them and all but one, touchingly, came back to us to be patted and fed despite what we had done to them.
We also met some lovely English people in the second week who helped us, who are continuing the trapping and neutering and who have offered us their house if we return in the winter. My brother can stay for a month in the winter and I will go for 2 weeks, that being the maximum leave I can take from work. One of the English women, Joanne, is going to search for weldmesh and a carpenter to make recovery pens - l left some money with her - and the other, Chris, has a basement in her house where we can put the pens.
We will have less interference in the winter (most of the people in Kusadasi move out when the tourists go), it will be much cooler, the cats will be very hungry and therefore even easier to catch (not that we had much trouble catching them this time); the vet, who was wonderful and said he will continue neutering all the cats Joanne and Chris bring him even when the money runs out, will be much less busy and be able to concentrate on our work (most of his clients are English, Dutch and German pet owners with just a sprinkling of caring Turkish owners).
We were invited onto Turkish TV to explain our project (mainly I suspect because they thought we were mad!) and we had an interview with the deputy Mayor who didnít deny that they poison the animals but said he was behind our project and offered help, which didnít materialise (l asked for some recovery pens to be constructed). The vet had warned us not to expect too much of him, but at least it meant that our project was Ďofficialí and we had no problems with the police.
We had 18 female cats spayed; 5 more caught and treated but not spayed for various reasons, 2 of whom will be spayed in the next 2 or 3 weeks. We caught and were made to release 3 more females. We had 15 male cats neutered. We arranged and paid for 3 street dogs to be spayed (the dogs are also cruelly treated) and took one desperately ill puppy to be put down. We nursed 5 sick kittens, one of which died (it had been thrown from a balcony). We had one female catís right front leg amputated because of terrible injuries.
This is a much smaller total than we had hoped. If we had found secure recovery space we could have dealt with 3 times this number. None the less we learned a lot. We will return in December and be much more effective. It will also be much cheaper as we will have free accommodation and no inflated tourist prices for food (human and cat - a tin of Whiskas cost the equivalent of £1.25 [in UK it was 45p])
We considered returning the cat with the amputated leg to the streets but children had tried to stone her when they saw her with her terrible injury, so we were anxious about her fate. We wondered if it would be more humane to put her down but we had nursed her for a week and I could not - she is less than a year old. I phoned home and arranged to bring her back to England. She is now in quarantine in Colchester and I visit her after work every day. In comparison with the streets of Kusadasi she is in paradise. I know that saving one little cat does not help the hundreds left behind but I could not leave her to be stoned nor have her put down. She is a happy little soul, she manages amazingly with one missing leg, she even tries to catch flies and plays with a ping-pong ball with her one front paw.
I will go back in the winter to help more of those left behind. Perhaps, with the help of the 2 English women, Joanne and Chris, and a young German woman who expressed an interest, we may be able to start a small cat shelter - Joanne is looking for some suitable premises and she wonít let the deputy Mayor rest until he comes up with the help he offered. It would be a small island in the terrible sea of cruelty we saw and heard about, but it would be something. We also met an English teacher who makes it her business to teach her Turkish pupils about kindness to animals - another little pebble in the pool.
Thank you for all your help and support. Weíve started something we intend to continue and though our first effort has achieved less than we hoped we wonít leave it there.
21st August 1998
Herewith, at last, my daily log from the Snip Trip. I have edited my original log to avoid unnecessary repetitions, but certain steps were taken regularly, for instance every cat treated by the vet was wormed with Droncil (wormer), fleas were eliminated with Frontline (from England), ears were inspected and treated by the vet where necessary. None of the cats we caught (or saw) were older than 2 years at most and the majority were between ten months and eighteen months, or kittens, so none had dental problems. We fed the Yunus Emre (YE) Park colony twice daily and the Pigeon Island cats most evenings. We also regularly fed other cats which we had returned to their original sites after they had recovered from the neutering or spaying.
We flew from Gatwick to lzmir on of 13th July, taking 2 flat-pack traps, a crush cage and a plastic cat carrier; Vicryl sutures, Hibiscrub and various patent pet medications and food supplements; lams cat food; a number of old towels and cloths, packs of kitchen roll, bite-proof gauntlets, Frontline flea spray.
Turkish Snip Trip Daily Log
Arrived at the hotel about 6.30 am. After breakfast went to find vetís surgery with instructions from hotel receptionist. Surgery is relatively close to Yunus Emre Park. Introduced ourselves to vet Nevzat Yildizli. His surgery is small and consists of one room on the first floor of a block of offices with a partition dividing the waiting room and surgery areas. There is no facility for holding animals. Nevzat appears to be a caring and serious young vet, recently married. His wife is also training to be a vet. He welcomed us and our project and promised to help us all he could. He is prepared to start operating at 6.30 am each day for us, to make sure it is done before his surgery opens at 9.30 am. His surgery opens Monday to Saturday, 9.30 am to 8.30 pm without a break. He is on 24 hour call 7 days a week. When I asked if he and other vets had arrangements to cover each otherís practices to enable time off he said that there was considerable competition between vets and they did not work co-operatively, which he felt was a pity. He was very pleased with the sutures and also with the artery clamps that Aidan brought him. He was fascinated by the traps and had never seen any like them before. He was also impressed by the crush cage.
Nevzat told us that there was recovery space at a dog shelter where he will take us tomorrow. We said we would spend the day researching the various cat colonies. He warned us that there had been poisoning by the municipality, using strychnine, and that we would find the cat numbers reduced. He showed us a video which Trevor Wheeler of WSPA had kindly sent him, about different methods of spaying. Unfortunately he doesnít have access to a video.
We went to Y.E. Park and found very few cats. We did not see the little grey male, his timid black brother or the bold tabby and white or its mother or brothers and sisters from last October. We sat at the Ege restaurant and talked to the waiters. They had not seen little grey or the others since last year. The awning above the restaurant has been altered and enlarged and the tree the cats used to climb to the tin roof has been almost totally covered. We looked round the mosque grounds and in the park but saw very few cats where last autumn there were dozens.
The heat (about 41 degrees) and our tiredness from the night flight discouraged us from making the trek to Pigeon Island. Weíll go tomorrow. We shopped at the supermarket for cat food - the prices have gone up. Kit-E-Kat is 500,000 TL and Whiskas is 600,000 TL (approx 420,000 to £1). On the way back to the hotel we saw many street dogs but few cats, though there are a few on the various building sites around the hotel, which is new and in an area of rapid development.
Went early to YE Park. No little grey but we did see a yellowish tabby male, a black and white male, 3 tortoiseshell and white females (possibly sisters) a timid white male with one blue and one green eye, a young ginger male and a female tortie and white with a slightly stiff rear leg. Went on to Pigeon Island - very few cats, it was quite a shock, there were so many last year. No sign of the little tortie and white with the broken paw we saw heavily pregnant last year, but we asked at the Ada restaurant and a young woman said that she is still around but her boss keeps the cat indoors as he is fond of it. We told her what we were doing and offered to take Ďbroken pawí to Nevzat to be spayed, free. She knows Nevzat and said, "He is the best!" She will talk to the boss.
Went to Nevzatís surgery at noon as arranged. He took us in his car to the dog shelter - some distance outside the town - and showed us a possible recovery room. Itís not suitable - it has a door with a six-inch gap underneath and a window with no glass. Frightened cats would escape out into the wilderness beyond, with no source of food. I explained to Nevzat and the shelter warden (a well-meaning ex-waiter who likes dogs, but has limited knowledge of cats). Nevzat drove us to another building about half a mile further on. This had no window and a well-fitting door but a cat could dash out when the door is opened, especially if opened by an inexperienced person. It was also very dark inside when the door was shut and there was no electricity. What is needed is some form of pen or cage we can put cats in. Nevzat knew of nowhere where we could get such a thing or even the materials to make them. All he could offer were plastic cat carrying boxes, but cats would boil in those boxes in this heat, and, as they donít drain, they would lie in their own urine.
We decided to start trapping this evening, concentrating on males until we can find some way of containing recovering females for 3 days. Males can be released the same day.
We went to YE Park this evening but it was heaving with people and not a cat in sight. We told Nevzat and arranged to catch some tomorrow morning and take them to his surgery by 6.30 am.
Woken at 5 am by the muezzinís call to prayer. As soon as he started, all the street dogs began to howl. I hope Allah listens to them.
At YE Park we caught 2 males, the yellowish tabby and the black and white, with no trouble, though the tabby went crazy in the cage. We used the divider to reduce his room as we were concerned about him injuring himself. Took them to Nevzat. The black and white was easily anaesthetized but the yellow tabby would not give in and needed a second injection. We had used a few lams biscuits to lure them into the traps and both vomited, so I cleared it away from their faces and stayed with them until they slept peacefully.
Nevzat said we could catch females as the shelter warden had cleared out a more suitable room for us. We went back to YE Park and caught a tortie and white female and a little black female that looked in very poor condition. When we returned to Nevzat, he had neutered the 2 males and he then anaesthetized the tortie. She had a distended abdomen and he thought she might be pregnant. However, she proved only to be constipated. He spayed her, making the incision under the abdomen, not at the side as most vets at home do (Note: flank-spaying is the normal method in the UK, it is safer for ferals as the intestines do not weigh down on the stitches making ruptures less likely).
The 2 males were transferred to the pink plastic carrier and the crush cage to recover in the surgery. The tortie was put in a trap with newspaper and a towel beneath her. We took the other trap and a plastic carrier belonging to Nevzat and went back to YE Park where Aidan first caught the tortie with the stiff leg, but let her go as she was in milk and therefore had kittens somewhere. Then we caught the 2 friendly little tortie and white females. By then there were people about and a man from a restaurant came and told us to let them go. We gave him our Turkish handout explaining what we were doing but he became very angry and insisted we let them go. Aidan tried to persuade him but it was no good so we had to release them. It was a shame as they were young, reasonably well fed females who had not had kittens but who would no doubt soon come into season.
We went back to Nevzat and told him. He told us, "Donít trust Turkish people." which surprised me somewhat. He said that almost certainly they were not the restaurant manís cats and he would quite happily abandon them at the end of the season. He said that for religious reasons some Turkish people are against sterilizing cats and dogs. They were, however, quite happy to leave them and their kittens to starve at the end of the season, or to be poisoned by the municipality. He asked us to go back and give the man his card and ask him to phone Nevzat to discuss the matter. We went back but could not find that man. However, we gave Nevzatís card and more of our handouts to a group of Turkish men at the same restaurant.
Nevzat anaesthetized the little black female. However, when he looked at her he said that she was in such poor condition she would not survive the operation. He put her on a drip. His surgery clients then began to arrive so we waited some while before he was able to take us to the shelter in his car. I carried the little black cat in my arms, she still slept. The room at the shelter was better in that it had an inner doorway (though no inner door) and glass in the window. It was clean. We left little tortie there, with water and food, though she wanted none, but in the trap, not loose. I took the little black cat back to the surgery and put it in the other trap to recover (it still slept). Nevzat agreed it could stay there for the night.
The dog shelter is fairly poor. It is clean but the yard is rough earth and stones. The smaller dogs can get out of holes in the fence. The Shelter is reliant on food deliveries from local hotels - their swill buckets - and Nevzat said deliveries were irregular and the food poor. He told us that until 2 years ago the building was a prison. Itís not ideal for dogs, but for human beings itís harsh, tiny cells. low ceilings, very little light. All the dogs run together, males and females. A female dog, nursing tiny puppies had a litter of older puppies too - did she become pregnant in the shelter? There are also 4 tiny kittens, about six weeks old, which are like skeletons. They have to compete for food with the dogs! The food they had was mainly sour bread. The starving kittens licked it but would not eat it. I had the tube of NourishUmí (containing taurine, essential to cats) with me and put some on the kittensí paws - they loved it. I gave the tube to the warden and Nevzat explained to him how to use it. I had brought some cat food and gave some to the dogs. The little kittens rushed into the scrum, dodging snaps and bites, to snatch a crumb or 2. How they didnít get killed I donít know. The mother cat had, apparently, abandoned them there - hardly surprising.
Last year someone threw poisoned meat over the shelter fence and 16 dogs died of strychnine poisoning - a slow and horrible death. Nevzat said that he thinks that the dogs stand a better chance on the streets than at the shelter. None of them get homed and disease spreads among them. The, shelter has had distemper and parvovirus infections which killed several dogs. I asked him if heíd spay the female puppies when they were old enough and the mother dog when she has weaned her puppies. He said he would if I wished, but he did not know how much of a future they had or if they would even live that long.
By the evening the 2 male cats were fine, eating and lively. We returned them to a quietish spot in the park where they came from. They both fled but were back within 5 minutes to be fed. The tabby even allowed us to pat him - thereís forgiveness!
On the way out of the hotel, the manager, seeing our cat equipment, asked what we were doing. His English is very good and so we explained in detail. When we had finished he said that he hates cats and that we could trap and take all those round his hotel, but we must not bring them back. He warned us not to bring any cats in his hotel or weíd be out on the street with our baggage. Well, at least we know where we are with him!
Caught 2 more males at YE Park- the white with odd eyes and another little tabby and white. At the surgery, the little black cat looked much better (still a skeleton) and ate greedily when I fed her. We discussed her. It is going to take at least 2 weeks to get her well enough to spay. We cannot put her back on the streets nor are we now justified in putting her down as she is making progress. If we take her to the shelter she will occupy a trap for the rest of our stay here. We have only one other trap, the crush cage and 2 plastic boxes. The Tortie is in the second trap for at least 2 more days. This will slow us down considerably. None the less, we have taken on little Blackie and are now responsible for her, so there is no way round it. When the males had been neutered we went to the shelter, taking Blackie in the second trap.
Tortie is looking well. We fed her and I added cod-liver oil to her food and gave her milk to shift the constipation as she has not yet passed a motion. We let her out of the trap white we cleaned it out, with the door of this new room firmly closed. She made a fuss of us. Nevzat had tipped her left ear as we had requested, to show she is spayed, and there is no bleeding from it today. Her stitches look fine. Nevzat gave her and Blackie penicillin injections, which made them jump. We put them back in the traps with new clean bedding and 1 took the old towels back to the hotel to wash.
I had brought the lams cat food and fed the dogs and kittens - grabbing the kittens from the scrum by the scruff (dodging snapping dogs) and putting them in the cat room to feed and drink water. They are so thin their heads look huge in comparison with their bodies. The mother dog attacked one of her older puppies over the food (the dogs are virtually starving) and injured its head. Nevzat looked at it and put some disinfectant on it. The poor little thing was terrified and when I tried to give it food it would not eat. I gave the man a carton of milk for the kittens and mother dog, for later when theyíve digested the biscuits. He seems slightly afraid of cats, but clearly is fond of the dogs. He offered to clean beneath the traps and feed the cats (the traps have a sectioning mechanism so he can open one end and put food and water in, without the cat being able to escape: they are excellent, flat-pack traps, from the RSPCA. (We were not able to bring the rabbit trap as it doesnít pack flat and the charter airline said that it was too bulky). This will be a big help as we can only visit once a day and Blackie in particular needs 2 meals a day to build her up. Nevzat said that the shelter needs more supervision from the support group. He described the support group, who wish to meet us, as good at chatting but poor on action.
A man, having read one of our notices, brought in a little tortie and white cat to be spayed on our project. He said he would take care of it for 3 days after the op. We readily agreed. If we can get more people to do this it will partly solve the recovery space problem. Nevzat spayed her and will keep her at the surgery in the crush cage over night.
In the evening, after letting the 2 males go in YE Park, we went back to Pigeon Island to see if we could find more cats to trap tomorrow. Unfortunately we didnít take a cat box. Almost the moment we got there a little pale grey tabby hobbled towards us. Her right from paw was missing and the end of the leg looked like minced beef. Heaven only knows what had happened to her. I stayed with her while Aidan went back to the hotel - a walk of about 2 and a half miles. I had some biscuits in my bag and fed her. The cats here feed out of huge steel waste bins with heavy lids -could someone have shut a bin lid on her leg?
While I was feeding her, 2 Turkish children, a girl of about seven and a boy of about six, came along. They pointed at her and made sad faces at me. I smiled and nodded. They scampered off and came back with stones which they proceeded to throw at her. She fled under a parked car. I remonstrated with them but they just laughed and tried to kick her under the car. Their parents ambled along and I asked them to stop the children, but they just shrugged and walked on. I dared not touch the children but fended them off her as best I could until their parents called them and they went. I sighed with relief, but too soon. 2 older children had been watching and now tried the same, laughing. I felt so angry that I spoke very sharply to them, but that just increased the fun for them. My few words of Turkish were no good. A Japanese man, a tourist, came along and, seeing what was happening, indicated to the children to stop. They backed off a bit but still threw the odd stone from a distance. When Aidan eventually arrived I was greatly relieved. We had no trouble getting her into the box and set off for Nevzatís surgery. It was about 7.45 pm.
We were stopped by the owner of the Ada restaurant, but when he saw it was not his cat, he let us go. A taxi driver at the end of the causeway to Pigeon Island tried to stop us but we just pretended we didnít understand and walked on. There was no way we were going to put this little cat back to be stoned. Nevzat said the leg had to be amputated. His wife had gone home and he asked me to assist him do the amputation. 3 asked if it was urgent, he said not. I explained that I had no experience and though I could possibly help with a spay, in an emergency, I was not confident that 1 could help with an amputation and if I failed (or even fainted) I would be a hindrance, not a help. He agreed to leave it to the morning. I fed the cat and we left her at the surgery. I felt a bit of a wimp, but Aidan said he couldnít have helped either, so I partly forgave myself.
Up at 5 am and off to Pigeon Island. Hadnít realised that the fortress gates are locked at night, so couldnít get in, but found one female and 2 males. Caught the female in the plastic box, but when we got her to the surgery, took her out and looked at her properly, she was lactating, so must have quite small kittens. We decided that she should be returned and Aidan took her back. He said that a ginger male cat was waiting for her and greeted her when she was released. He then caught a smallish black and white male.
Nevzat amputated little greyís front right leg. It was a very long operation and at one point she woke and cried out and had to be given a second anaesthetic. Just hearing it from behind the partition was enough, I knew I could not have been much help, though if it had been an emergency I would have tried. He told me after, that he could not spay her at the same time, it would have been too much for her. That must be done later.
2 more female cats were brought in for spaying under our project by a man from lzmir, staying in Kusadasi for a few weeks, who has been feeding them. Again he will take care of them post op. While Nevzat was operating on these, we went to the marina where we had seen quite a few cats last year. It has been developed and the whole area fenced off. We were allowed to walk inside the fencing as far as the customs area, but we did not see a single cat, despite rattling cat biscuits. We will return early one morning, though the entrance may be locked.
At mid-day Nevzat said that little grey was awake enough to take to the shelter. We took her in the crush cage. She will be in there for some time, so now we have only the plastic boxes.
Little tortie had passed a hard, worm-packed motion. I had brought cooked chicken from the hotel and gave her and Blackie some, each with a worm pill, given me by Nevzat. Both cats were is good spirits. We let them out while we cleaned and changed bedding, food and water. Blackie eats everything we give her and asks for more. I put food and water in with little grey, but she went back to sleep. Nevzat said that Tortie can be released, so we took her back to YE Park, found a sheltered spot, and let her go. She took a few minutes to orientate herself, had a bit more food and then set off towards the restaurant of the man who made us let the other 2 go. We decided not to hang about. Weíll check on her tomorrow morning, early. We went to the Ege restaurant at the other end of the park. One of the waiters there had seen us release tortie and asked about it. We explained and gave him one of our notices. He told us about the street dog, Charlie. She is twelve years old and has 2 litters of puppies a year, every year. He didnít know what happened to them, they Ďdisappearí he said.
He is fond of the dog, and she of him. He goes back to his home in Aydin at the end of each season and the dog is left behind, but survives. He takes her to his flat in Kusadasi when she has her pups, but the neighbours complain so he can only keep her there a few days. He thinks she is too old to go on having puppies and asked if Nevzat would spay her. I assured him it would be free. He was worried that she would not go to the vet, and might be afraid. We went to Nevzat and he agreed to spay her. He was a little worried that my group in England would not want him to be spending time on dogs, as the CPL is a cat charity. I assured him it was fine, that members care about dogs in need too, and anyway I would pay for it separately. We went back and told the man at Ege restaurant that Nevzat would come to the restaurant, anaesthetise Charlie there and take her in his car, so she would not be afraid. The man agreed to phone Nevzat when Charlie next appeared.
At the surgery we saw a man with a 2 week old puppy which he had brought to be homed. When he had gone I asked Nevzat if that wasnít too young to home a puppy, surely it needs its mother for a few weeks more. Nevzat said it was common to home puppies at that age but they need a lot of care.
A woman from the local THKD support group called at the Surgery asking for an appointment with me. I said I was happy to talk with her at once, but no, she wanted a formal appointment at 5 pm at the local chemist shop. We agreed. The group was represented by 3 women, one of whom, the pharmacist, spoke excellent English. (I really must learn more Turkish) They were very welcoming. They questioned us about our experience and qualifications for the project - I wondered if we were going to be rejected for the job! However, we seemed to pass the test. I then asked them what the group was doing about the shelter and the street animals problem. They said they were all too busy with jobs and families to do anything, alas, but they were pleased we were doing something and wanted to help us make a success of the project. I reminded them that we are only here for 2 weeks and we would be happy to leave our equipment behind in the hope that others would continue. That, it seemed, would not be possible. However, they would arrange a meeting for us with the deputy mayor and involve the press and TV. We agreed that this would be a help, might raise awareness and might mean we have fewer challenges when we are taking cats to and from the surgery. They asked us to wait at the hotel for the next 2 days for them to contact us with the TV crew. We explained that we had too little time to do that, but could be contacted daily via Nevzatís surgery.
They asked how much we were paying Nevzat. I said that he was making a very considerable reduction in his charges. I was not prepared to discuss figures with them as that is a matter between us and Nevzat. Actually, he is charging us £17 for a spay and £10 for a neuter, though he said that he will continue even if the money runs out. What matters, he said, are the cats, not the money. We could not ask for more.
Sunday, Nevzatís only day at home, though he is on call, but none the less he took us to the shelter, collecting us from the hotel. On the journey he told us that because animals have low status in Turkey, vets too have low status. He said that his parents have never forgiven him for becoming a vet when he could have become a doctor, but he had always wanted to work with animals.
Little grey was sitting up and purring. We fed her and Blackie with chicken breasts bought from the hotel. We let Blackie out of the trap and she is looking better, but still has a bit of a wheezing chest. Nevzat gave her and little grey penicillin injections. I held them tight, ready for the jump. We cleaned up, changed bedding, fed the little kittens, the dogs and the little puppy which was attacked by its mother. It is still afraid to eat.
We discussed little grey. Nevzat said that cats can manage with a leg missing, but I am concerned about the attitude of the children. Life is hard enough on the streets without becoming a target for cruelty because of a deformity. After long discussion I decided to try to take her back to England. 1 phoned home for help with the formalities. Ray will contact MAFF for the licence and DHL international deliveries to get it here as soon as possible. He will contact Loggerheads kennels at Purleigh to book her a quarantine place.
We went back to Pigeon Island in the evening and found 2 cats with 4 small kittens, inside the fort, all of whom we fed. One little black and white male, probably about 5 weeks old, was very confident and bold. I hope it stands him in good stead. One mother cat had a damaged, but healed front right paw. With the cat at Ada restaurant, that makes 3 cats with injured front right paws living within a few yards of each other. We asked the waiter if he knew how this was happening, but he did not. On the way back to the hotel we saw a small kitten with one blackened bulging eye (blind) and the second eye going cloudy. It was being fed by someone and there were lots of people around or Iíd have taken it. We will go back early tomorrow morning and find it and take it to Nevzat. It will probably have to be put down, but it will never survive on the streets blind. How many more unseen desperate cases are there?
Out by 5.30 am. As we walked down the deserted road, a pickup drove from behind and passed us. A pretty tabby kitten had begun to cross the road ahead of us, but paused because of the sound of the van. As the van got close to it, the driver swerved at it and hit the kitten, deliberately, then drove on. We ran to it, but its head had been crushed and it was dead.
We searched everywhere but could not find the little blind kitten. Perhaps someone is taking care of it? Letís hope so. We went back and tried trapping around the hotel, but the adult cats are far too nervous and distrustful, probably because of the manager and staffís attitude. Several kittens wandered into our trap, but all too young. As it was still early (about 6.15 am)we went to Y.E Park but were waylaid by a half-drunk Turk who spoke no English but told us, in German, his life story. It was quite interesting but prevented us catching cats. I tried to explain, in German, what we were doing but he was just incredulous and was, anyway, much more interested in telling us again and again about his failed hairdressing business and his parentsí years in Germany as guest workers. Phoned Nevzat to prevent him going to the surgery so early as we had no cats. Unfortunately he had set off, but reached him on his mobile and he went back home. Went back to the park and fed the cats - all the operated ones came except the tortie and white and her 2 sisters. They must be being kept in somewhere.
Visited the shelter. Have decided to call little grey ĎKushií, as she comes from Kusadasi, and we have to put a name on the MAFF licence application. It means ĎBirdieí which seems appropriate as she comes from Pigeon Island. She and little Blackie are doing well. Fed them with chicken, cleaned then out and changed the bedding. More washing - my hotel balcony looks like the Dhobi Wallahsí yard and smells faintly of cat urine - the tube of Travel wash is not quite up to the task. Nevzat gave both cats another penicillin injection.
At 2.15 we were taken by one of the group to see the Deputy Mayor at the town hall. He was charming, spoke immaculate English and was every inch a politician. The TV cameras were there for the interview. So, to be fair to the support group, they had done as they promised.
I began by complimenting the Deputy Mayor on the beauty of his country and the friendliness of Turkish people. I said that on our previous visit we had noticed the street animal problem and as we had, in the past, been involved in dealing with a similar problem in England, we thought we might be able to help the municipality by beginning a sterilizing project. We had experience of such projects in England which had solved similar problems. I assured him that if we had municipal support and the project continued after we left, the cat population could be stabilised in 2 years whereafter the cat (and dog, if applied to dogs) population would begin to fall and continue falling each year. He smiled and nodded and I suspect that he was thinking that strychnine was a quicker solution. I said that it was a more humane solution than poisoning. His expression barely changed and he said that he was entirely supportive of our project and wished to know how he could help. I told him of the recovery pens problem and I raised the issue of the cats on Pigeon Island, the right paw injuries. He said he would get someone to look to see if there was any machinery there that might be causing this. We thanked him for seeing us and left on a positive note. We reported back to Nevzat. He said that he hoped the municipality would help but he suspected that if the next visitor to the Deputy Mayor suggested poisoning the street animals, he would also be completely supportive of that project. 1 think Nevzat is right, alas. What I need is some research data to send to the municipality proving that sterilizing street animals does solve the problem in a reasonable timescale. I must do some research when I get home.
Aidan fancied some Chinese food so we stopped off for a late lunch at a small Chinese restaurant on the road back to the hotel. A pregnant female tabby and white cat joined us. The waiter chased her away, but we assured him we liked her. Nevzat had said that he could spay pregnant females. We debated taking her. We dislike terminating the kittens lives, but what we had seen around us gave us concern for their future and the motherís, having to feed herself and kittens. In the end we decided to take her. I had only ordered a starter as the heat affects my appetite, so I bolted that, put the cat in the cat carrier and left Aidan to enjoy his lunch. Nevzat looked at the cat and said he could do it at once. He anaesthetized her and I stayed with her until she slept. I waited in the waiting room portion of the room. Nevzat told me afterwards that the kittens, 4 of them, were almost ready to be born, but he did not resuscitate them. He was right not to, but both Aidan and I shed tears over them later. At least the little mother has only herself to fend for now. Nevzat said he would keep her at the surgery over night. Aidan sacrificed his favourite T-shirt for bedding for her. A brother to be proud of.
ĎPhoned England. MAFF says we cannot use Loggerheads quarantine kennels, there is a problem but she could not tell Ray what it was. He has contacted another kennel at Colchester. MAFF will rush the papers through for me. Wonderful. After feeding YE Park and Pigeon Island cats, we fed the hotel cats, but out of sight of the staff.
A fellow guest at the hotel told us of an English restaurant which is collecting money for the street animals. We went to find it. It is called the Cherry Tree and is owned by a wonderful English woman called Chris White. She did the ĎShirley Valentineí thing and married a Turkish chef. Instead of the easy life sheíd hoped for, she lives a very busy life, cooking and running the restaurant which opens for breakfast and closes when the night owls go home - very late. She still manages to feed, help and take in numerous street cats and dogs. Within ten minutes of meeting her she offered us her car! We had brought our driving licences, but the tinkling of glass and the grinding of metal is a regular back-beat to a stroll down to the park. I donít think Iíve ever seen more suicidal driving anywhere. We both declined her very kind offer. Weíll keep walking.
Chris knows of many street cats needing to be spayed and neutered and she will let us bring them to her back room to recover. What a pity we didnít discover her sooner! Took 2 cat boxes to her. One of her staff, a young Turkish woman, has a female cat she feeds and will bring in and a Turkish friend of hers, called Sonia, will bring another female cat. Both will take the cats back to their own homes to recover.
Went to Nevzat. He said that the dogs at the shelter have had no food delivered for 3 days. We took food and visited the shelter. Kushi has a slight infection in her wound, so had another injection. Fed all 3 cats with chicken. Little Black is eating like a horse but seems increasingly nervous. Iím a bit worried that the shelter warden may be being rough towards her. She does hiss, because sheís afraid, and he may be seeing it as aggression. She is very jumpy when we let her out of the cage. The little Chinese restaurant cat is well and ate a little food. We fed the dogs and the kittens. The kittens look a little less like skeletons. The dogs were ravenous. I fed the attacked puppy separately, but it is still very nervous and reluctant to eat. One of its siblings looked poorly and did not eat. The warden said it has an upset tummy.
We went back to see Chris. She told us that she can get much cheaper dog food from the cash and carry - a giant tin is only 900,000 TL (less than 2 small chicken breast portions from the hotel). She sold me 2 and said she would get me a dozen and I paid her for them. She would also get a tin opener, as we couldnít get one anywhere. Chris is feeding a large female dog, she calls her Doris. Doris looks exactly like the statue of the wolf feeding Romulus and Remus. She has mange, though Chris has paid another local vet, Ahmet Kocabay, to treat her, which he has, and Dorisí fur is just starting to re-grow. Every rib stands out of her sides, her teats hang down almost to the ground. She is very timid and very frightened of men. She has puppies somewhere but Chris has not been able to find them. They may have been disposed of, we hear many horrible stories. Doris is not well enough to spay but Ahmet will spay her when she is. I gave Chris £25 to pay for the op.
Chris's friend, Iris, told us that when she and her husband and daughter came to Turkey to live, they brought their 2 dogs. At lzmir Customs, when they went to collect them, they were told by a difficult official that they couldnít have them, they might have to stay there a week. They could hear the dogs barking. There is no quarantine in Turkey and the dogs had had all their inoculations including rabies. They couldnít understand the delay and the official was giving no reasons. They waited and argued for half a day. When they asked questions the official pretended not to understand. When they got angry he just shrugged and walked away. In the end Iris said in utter desperation, "What do we have to do to get our.dogs?í Without hesitation the official told her she had to give him £150 in sterling cash. They handed over the cash, it went into the officialís pocket and they were told to take the dogs. This worries me. I must check our cash situation in case we meet similar difficulties with Kushi. We have to work through a cargo agent in lzmir and he was not very helpful on the telephone and said we have to pay for the flight and his charges in dollars or sterling cash.
lmre, Chrisí helper, brought the little cat she feeds and Sonia brought hers. We took them to Nevzat to be spayed. He will keep them over night.
A woman tourist, from our hotel, has rescued a little kitten from one of the hotel staff who was swinging it by its tail. She said that the same lad boasted of having put a kitten in a carrier bag, stamping on it and feeding it to a street dog. The hotel staff thought that was hilarious. The Tourist was very upset and wants to take the kitten home but when we told her the cost she said she couldnít afford it. Chris said sheíll take it. Itís a dear little thing, a tabby and white male, about eight weeks old. Chris named it Pepsi. She has 3 other small kittens someone brought to her. They look too young to be weaned. I bought a feeding bottle from Nevzat, but their motions are a bit loose so Aidan bought some skimmed milk. They are very thin. Someone has also dumped a very well fed white and tabby male cat at Chrisí restaurant. Weíll take him to be neutered tomorrow.
Phoned home. Loggerheads kennel has been closed and the Colchester kennel has taken all their animals. There is just one pen left for Kushi which Ray has booked. MAFF staff are working all stops out and DHL are lined up to deliver the papers to Nevzat. Please let them come in time to send her back before I go. Chris could look after her but couldnít take her to lzmir with all the Customs formalities. Iím not sure what Iíll do if the papers are delayed.
Looked for the little blind kitten, but again no sign. Asked at the restaurant but was told it had Ďdisappearedí. Like Charlieís twenty-odd litters of puppies, perhaps? I dread to think.
Fed the cats at YE Park. All our Ďvictimsí are there except the little tortie. Had no containers to catch more cats once weíd taken the well-fed male to Nevzat. Brought Imreís cat back to Chris. She had been lying in her own urine, with the incision under her abdomen, so Nevzat gave me some iodine to put on the wound. She seems poorly. The plastic boxes are unsuitable for recovery. Let her out at Chrisís until lmre came to collect her. Gave Imre a worm pill (from Nevzat) to give the cat in a day or 2.
Very late going to the shelter because Nevzat was very busy. 2 more female cats brought in to be spayed under the scheme to be looked after by feeders, one by a friend of Sonia. Also a cat with a terrible prolapse which Nevzat operated on. 3 kittens were thrown from a balcony, 2 are dead, Nevzat tried his best with the third but it looked barely a week old and it died in front of us. All he said was, ĎThis is very badí but he was obviously distressed.
Our cats at the shelter were starving. We had taken chicken and cat tins for them and the 2 dog tins for the dogs. Chinese restaurant cat is not eating. Blackie has congested chest again but is eating heartily. Nevzat gave them both another injection. Kushi is well, eating heartily, no discharge from her wound.
Fed dogs and kittens - still no food delivered! It is a disgrace. It we hadnít been here the dogs would be killing each other by now without food. The puppy that looked unwell yesterday was worse today. I picked it up and its belly felt full of water. I took it to Nevzat. He said it was jaundiced. He suspected that worms had destroyed its liver. He was going to leave it there but I asked him to put it down. It seems there is no culture of putting animals down. Nevzat had to go to the chemist to buy a substance for the purpose. We took the puppy back to the surgery. it urinated on me in the car and its urine was saffron coloured (Note: severe liver damage). Nevzat injected it and put it to sleep. It was the kindest thing, poor little animal.
2 more cats were brought in to be spayed under the project. Nevzat said that it is the response to the TV coverage. He too had been interviewed separately and had explained that he was doing the operations free. He had felt it was safe to make that offer, knowing that most Turkish people would not respond. Charlieís (the dog) Ďmasterí hasnít phoned yet, nor has the Ada restaurant owner. We will go and remind them.
Went to the Pharmacy to tell the support group that the dogs have now not had food delivered for 5 days. They said they would see to it. I will write or fax Birgul Rona of the THKD as soon as I get home to tell her about the problems at the shelter. It is difficult for her, Istanbul is a very long way away, but I know she will help if she can.
After cat feeding we returned to the hotel where we were met by a young woman with her father and little daughter. She had heard of our project and had come to meet us. She introduced herself as Joanne Demirel. She is married to a Turkish doctor and speaks Turkish well. She is very supportive of what we are doing and wants to help. When she heard of little Blackie and my concerns for her, she offered to take her into her home tomorrow. I am very relieved and grateful. She told us that she and her family will be in Prague for the winter and we can use her house and car free. I was delighted about the house but said we were unsure about driving. She assured us it was much less dangerous in the winter as 3 quarters of the inhabitants of Kusadasi move out. I canít believe our luck in meeting 2 such remarkable people as Chris and Joanne. Aidan and 1 feel much more positive, we were becoming a bit dejected.
There was a fax waiting for me at the hotel telling me that the Import licence for Kushi should arrive tomorrow. Great news.
Went early to YE Park but couldnít catch as Imre still has the pink plastic box and the other is with Soniaís friend. Fed the cats but were again prevented from checking on all the cats by a recovering drunk - there are at last 3 recovering drunks sleeping in the park every morning, occasionally they are young English tourists. Went to the Cherry Tree restaurant. The large male cat operated yesterday looks fine, except that he sits down very carefully, poor lad. Another cat has been dumped anonymously in Chrisí restaurant, a young male, about 3 months, but very thin and too young to neuter. Heís a tabby and white, a bit aggressive to Pepsi and rather quick with his claws. He may have had to defend himself. A local policeman wants the smallest kitten, which still needs bottle-feeding. He obviously likes it but is far too rough with it. Chris told him he will make it vicious, but he continued. Actually, it is such a little sweetie, I donít think it will be made vicious, just afraid. She tried to persuade him to have the newest arrival, but he said that it is too big. Chris reminded him that the little one would grow. Sheís worried that heíll lose interest in it (she calls the little kitten Muzzie) when it grows up, but sheís told him sheíll have it back if he no longer wants it. She wonít let Muzzie go for a week or 2 more, it is too dependent.
Debbie, an Airtours rep., came into the restaurant. She is going to have Pepsi and one of the little black kittens. She is married to a Turkish waiter and has a little son. She told us of a poor half-starved dog which lives under the stairs outside her flat and keeps having puppies. She borrowed Chrisí car and took us to see it. It is in a very poor state.
We went to Nevzatís surgery. Another tortoise and white cat had been brought in under the project. It was in an insecure plastic shopping basket so I hung on to it until it was anaesthetized. We waited until Nevzat had spayed the cat and then went to the shelter.
Took twelve more giant tins of dog food and 4 tins of Lucky cat food for the dogs and kittens. Food was delivered while we were there but most of it was bread and salad with a few chicken bones (which I tried to take away from the kittens, but they fought me for it) just thrown down on the dusty yard.
We paid the shelter warden for his help. He hadnít asked for anything, but we were grateful for the cleaning and feeding he had done. I gave him the cod-liver oil for the dogs and some eye-wipes and mild eardrops. We took the 3 cats from the shelter to Chrisís restaurant. The Chinese restaurant cat ate all her chicken and some tin. Nevzat was happy that she be released. Aidan went to buy more cat food while I took the Chinese cat back to the restaurant. The waiter did not seem very pleased to see her back. I gave him another explanatory handout and explained again that she would have no further kittens. He seemed mildly pleased. She sat outside the restaurant, on the pavement and I was concerned that someone might kick her, or the waiter might chase her when I had gone, so I stayed with her. At first she just sat and called with a loud, high-pitched, throaty call. Then she listened. Then she called again. A black cat appeared from the other side of the road and they spat at each other. Because of all that has happened to her she no doubt smells different and perhaps he did not recognise her smell. She then got up and crossed the road and he followed her. I tagged along too. They went down a small side street which I had not been along before. There were small houses with gardens and a ginger cat came out of one, answering the femaleís call, and the 2 of them disappeared into a garden.
I went back to the Cherry Tree and let Kushi and Blackie out in Chrisí back room. Blackie darted and jumped and twitched around a bit strangely. I think she has just been in the trap too long. Imre had brought the pink box back - her cat is fine - and Kushi chose to sleep in that, with the door open. It is so hot - 45 degrees - that all the cats want to do is sleep.
When Aidan returned with the cat food we went down to Nevzatís surgery as we had arranged with him to get the dog that Debbie had shown us, for him to spay. However, when we got to Debbieís flat we could not find the dog. We arranged that Debbie should telephone Nevzat when she next sees it.
The MAFF papers have not arrived.
Charlieís master still has not phoned Nevzat, nor has the owner of the Ada restaurant. Weíve been back to both, several times, to encourage them and assure them it will be free. What more can we do?
After cat feeding, went back to Cherry Tree. Joanne collected Blackie about 9.30 pm. She will keep her and take her to Nevzat when she is strong enough to be spayed. Iím so relieved. I gave Joanne 5 tins of cat food. I will get her more tomorrow. Joanne has several cat carriers of her own and will catch 2 females that she feeds and take them to Nevzat. Joanne is keen to contact the support group as she would like to be involved in supporting the shelter and improving it. She is charmingly assertive, speaks Turkish well and is prepared to give the time. She had previously thought of trying to find a piece of land with a suitable building to start a shelter for street animals. She would be a real asset to the group.
Kushi is fine. She jumped onto Aidanís lap and then mine, purring happily. Sheís eating very well and is very tolerant of the little kittens. I decided to take her home to Essex because of her infirmity, but it is a bonus that she is sweet natured.
Sonia called in and said her cat is fine. She brought a friend whose name I did not catch. This woman told me that her dog was poisoned with strychnine last year. She asked me if I had seen an animal that had been poisoned with strychnine. I said I had not. "I am happy for you," she said. "I pray God you never see it." It took 2 days for her dog to die, in terrible agony. She said that Nevzat fought for the 2 days to save it but he could not. She told me that she went to see the Mayor to accuse him and the municipality of poisoning dogs and cats (she thinks her dog picked up some poisoned meat when she took him out on his walk, she did not let him roam free as many people do). The Mayor denied the poisoning, so she asked him who then poisoned her dog. He asked her to leave. She went every day for 2 weeks to the town hall to ask him who had killed her dog. In the end he had her ejected. She then sat on the steps of the town hall, every day, with a placard asking, ĎMr Mayor, who killed my dog?í The police were sent to remove her and she was warned that if she returned she would be arrested.
I feel real admiration for this womanís courage, in a country with a poor human rights, as well as animal welfare, record. Chris told us that she had hit a man for kicking an injured dog and the police had come for her too. They took her to the station but, after a warning, let her go. They thought that to care so much for helpless animals is quite crazy.
Another tour rep, an Irish woman called Karen, called in for a meal. She is small and slender but she ate enough for 2 6-foot rugby players! Chris asked her if she would have the last little black kitten and Karen said no, rather tersely. I must have looked a little taken aback. She began to tell me about a little kitten she had taken in about a year ago. It was blind in one eye and the other eye was affected and gradually went blind despite Nevzatís treatment. She thought it was a female but when it was old enough to be spayed, she took it to Nevzat and he discovered it was hermaphrodite. Karen kept the cat indoors except when she could take it out and remain with it. It made good progress and she loved it.
Her tour company asked her to go to India at Christmas to accompany a tour. She asked her Turkish neighbour to look after her cat and the neighbour agreed. When she came back the cat was gone and the neighbour was very vague about its fate. It took her several months to discover that the neighbour had refused to have it indoors and had put it at the bottom of the stairs outside the flats. The cat crawled up to Karenís door and cried, so the neighbour threw it down the stairs. Again it crawled up and was thrown down. Several more times this happened until it disappeared. Karen wept as she told me this. She said that if she had known that the neighbour would not look after the cat she would have had it put down, humanely. She would never know what had happened to it, but being totally blind and having never been out unaccompanied it would either have starved to death, been killed on the road or by a dog. I thought of the children stoning Kushi, but I said nothing. Karen said she would never again take on the responsibility for an animal, not while she had to rely on others to care for it when she had to travel.
Chris had made us a lovely curry and after the meal we all sat down together, Chris, Iris, Karen, Sue (who works for Chris), Imre and Aidan. Unfortunately Karenís experience triggered a whole series of horror stories which I wonít record here, except to say that the most horrific was an account of another Turkish town responding to a rabies scare by rounding up all the street dogs and throwing them, alive, into a furnace. Chris says there was national, and international outrage about it. Such a total disregard for suffering is hard to imagine. Yet equally terrible things are done, even to human beings, all over the world. We went back to our hotel rooms in silence.
Faxed Cyprus Turkish Airlines and the Cargo Agent in Izmir. Went to Cherry Tree early to feed Kushi and the kittens. Aidan went down to Nevzat to see if the Import Licence had arrived. Neither the Airline nor the Agent will do anything about booking the cat onto a flight until we have that.
Joanne took 2 cats to Nevzat for spaying and Aidan caught 2 males on Pigeon Island.
The MAFF papers arrived in the afternoon. I phoned the agent who said we must get the cat to the International Veterinary Centre in lzmir by 5 thirty today if Kushi is to catch the Cyprus Turkish flight on Monday morning. Nevzatís certificate of the catís fitness to travel is not enough. We learned this at 3 pm. Itís a 2 hour drive in the rush hour, Chris said. We got a taxi and agreed a fare of £40.
The agent told us that the International Veterinary Centre was off Attaturk Street near a Stadium (Osanjak?). The taxi driver claimed to know where the stadium was. Kushi had to be in the pink box as the crush cage was being used for one of the male cats being neutered. It was 45 degrees and even with all the taxi windows open the air blasted through like a furnace. The cat panted and lay limp and I sprinkled her with water. I cannot begin to recount the frustrations of the journey, one by one. Suffice it to say that the taxi driver hadnít a clue where he was going, nor had the thirteen people he stopped, one by one, and asked, through every one pretended he knew and sent us in a different direction. After getting to Izmir by 5 pm, we criss-crossed the city on one wild goose chase after another for one and a half hours. At six thirty we went to the agent He clearly considered us idiots for not being able to find the vet. (We had found Attaturk Street - which is several kilometers long - but even the police station in Attaturk Street didnít know where the vet was. The taxi driver even paid a local taxi driver to show him the way, but though the local man took his money, he led us the wrong way.) The Agent said that we would have to come back on Monday. I explained that I had a certificate from Nevzat saying that the cat was fit to travel. That was not sufficient, it had to be the International Vet. Monday would be too late for the 10.30 am flight. The next Cyprus Turkish flight the cat could go on was 2nd August. I explained that I had a friend who would care for the cat until then, but she could not bring her to Izmir, could the Agent collect her from Kusadasi? No.
But I had to fly home on Monday night. He shrugged. I burst into tears of frustration. This seemed to galvanised him, not because he cared about my feelings but because this was an embarrassment in front of his juniors (young lads whom he bossed about unmercifully). He grabbed the phone. After various calls he told me there was a Swiss Air flight on Monday afternoon. If I got to the vet Monday morning and then came to him he would sort it out. He drew a vague plan of where the vet was and we set off back to Kusadasi. By now it was getting a bit cooler, thank goodness. Kushi hadnít once cried or complained - amazing. We took Kushi back to Chris. Fed the released cats and their friends. Saw Chinese Restaurant cat, who is fine.
It was too hot to sleep and the frustration of the day donít help. Suddenly I feel immensely tired and I want to go home.
Went to Cherry Tree after cat feeding, to feed Kushi and the kittens. The 4 little kittens have diarrhoea and are listless and unwell. Chris Ďphoned Ahmet (her preferred vet) who came with his girlfriend who is German. She too is keen to start a cat shelter and asked if my group in England would join with a German animal welfare group, the THKD and possibly WSPA to start a shelter. I explained that my group is a local branch of a national organisation, but that the national organisation had said it was unable to help me. Although the local Chelmsford CPL group has been very helpful and supportive, and the Chelmsford RSPCA had specially bought the traps, neither have the finances to establish a shelter in Turkey. However, I said that I would contact some national charities and WSPA when I return to see if something could be organised. I also mentioned that Joanne is interested in a cat shelter and said that Aidan and I will return in December! January to do what we can. Also, I suggested that they follow up the municipalityís offer of help.
Ahmet looked at Kushi, out of interest, and suggested I take her to Nevzat as she has a slight discharge from her stitches. He gave the kittens an injection each and they shrieked, poor little mites.
I took Kushi to Nevzat and he gave her another penicillin injection. He also gave me some antibiotic cream for the wound. Aidan had caught 2 more males and released yesterdayís (they were operated late so stayed at the surgery over night.) We went back to the Marina but still no cats. Aidan felt unwell - too much sun - so he went back to the hotel to sleep. (I go nowhere without my hat). I returned Kushi to Cherry Tree, had a shower and went back to say goodbye to Nevzat and his wife, lnji (not sure about the spelling!). I apologised for Aidanís absence but explained that he felt unwell. I thanked them both for all their kindness and help. They have been wonderful. They gave me and Aidan an apple tea set each, which was a lovely gesture.
Went back to Cherry Tree. Ahmet has given Chris rehydrating salts for the kittens. She was very busy so I administered the fluids and cleaned the kittens and generally nursed them. Muzzie is very poorly, like a little limp rag doll.
Joanne came in the evening. She is calling Blackie ĎKizilí, which means Blackie: one of her dogs is called Blackie so the cat has to have a new name. I invited Joanne, her sister, her father and her daughter for a meal and Chris made us a splendid Turkish meal. She threw in a free bottle of wine. We had a very pleasant evening. Iris said her husband would take us to lzmir on Monday for £20. Their friend, an English teacher called Rosalie, working in lzmir, came into the restaurant. She thinks she knows where the International vet is. She will come with us on Monday as she wants to do some shopping in lzmir. She told us that she teaches all her pupils about respect for animals as part of their English lessons.
Sunday. As we leave early tomorrow morning, before the Cherry Tree restaurant opens (and Chris lives some distance away) we asked the Sunworld rep to ask the hotel manager if I could take Kushi, keeping her in her plastic carrier, into my room tonight. We knew there was no point in us asking him directly, but hoped that the rep might impress him more. She would not ask him. Chris phoned the Sunworid office, but they would not help.
Chris offered us her key, to let ourselves in, take the cat. leave the key on the counter and let ourselves out of the self-locking back door. We accepted her kindness. She recently had £1,000 stolen from the restaurant, yet she is prepared to trust us with the key. She is a remarkable woman.
Now we have used, or given away, all the medications, towels, food etc which we brought, our combined clothing etc fills only one case, so we took the spare case to Chris. We thought she might hear of a tourist who has had a case damaged and who might be grateful for this one. Itís a very ordinary case which I bought some years ago in Chelmsford market, but its sound and may be of use to someone.
After cat feeding - we saw and said goodbye to all our cats except that first little tortie and white, which we have never seen since. Even little Chinese Restaurant cat was waiting at her usual spot. We felt quite a wrench saying goodbye. Who knows what will befall them before we return?
Joanne took us and her father, sister and daughter to a lovely farm some distance outside Kusadasi. She said it would be an antidote to all the suffering animals we had seen. It is owned by a wealthy Turkish family and covers many hundreds of acres. They have dogs, horses, water fowl, goats and rabbits. The animals live in luxury. The horsesí stable block is magnificent and all the animals look extremely well cared for. There are, however, no cats. Aidan was still feeling a little unwell - todayís visit to the farm, though delightful, probably didnít help as much of the time we were walking in full sun.
We took Joanne to the dog shelter, which she had never visited. We saw there a dog we had not seem before. It had mange in quite an advanced stage. The skin, especially between the toes and in bends in the flesh, was cracking and bleeding. We were very concerned as this could infect all the dogs and puppies as they all run free together. It can be treated too, which it should be for the dogís sake, or it will eventually get blood poisoning and die. Joanne will talk to Nevzat. Joanne had ideas for improving the shelter and said she would contact the group and try to work with them and the municipality. She is a remarkable young woman. The kittens look so much better than when we first saw them. Their heads are in proportion now, and although they are still thin they will survive, so long as they continue being fed. Joanne will do her best until she goes to Prague.
After this visit we went to Joanneís house which is near Ladiesí Beach. She currently has a mother dog (Blackie) and her six puppies, "Stupid Dog" - a young black and tan dog and another puppy that appeared on her verandah yesterday, and 4 cats. She is also looking after a neighbour's dog - a sweet natured little white dog called Pammuk. The neighbours want to get rid of it because it is female and will soon start having puppies. I said I will pay to have it spayed so they will keep it. I gave Joanne £40 for the spay and towards Kizilís food (I have paid Nevzat to spay Kizil). Kizil (Blackie) is still a little nervous, but is well settled in Joanneís spare bedroom. She looks much more healthy and could probably be spayed soon. Joanne will consult Nevzat. Kizil does not use her tray which is an inconvenience for Joanne, so the sooner she can go out after being spayed the better. Joanne is so tolerant, sheís wonderful. Joanne has 2 little street cats she feeds which she calls Cupboard Cat and Cupboard Catís daughter. Cupboard Cat is pregnant. She is debating whether or not to have her spayed now or wait until the kittens are born and weaned. She will take both to Nevzat to be spayed as part of the project.
We had been invited to a farewell meeting of the support group this evening, but Aidan felt unwell and 1 felt absolutely exhausted. We have to be up at 5 tomorrow too. I asked Joanne to telephone the groupís leader, who speaks no English, to give her our apologies, we must prepare for tomorrow and have an early night. Joanne did so and said that the groupís leader was very disappointed. We felt guilty about that, but I will send the group a report and apology when I return home.
We went back to the Cherry Tree to feed Kushi and the kittens. Muzzie is quite a bit better - Chris has been taking him home at night. The other kittens are much improved. Chris was very busy and Sue was feeling unwell. We prepared for tomorrow, said our farewells and went back to the hotel. We will keep in touch with Chris.
Up very early and ready by about 4 am - too early, so read until 5 am. All went well at the Cherry Tree. We left a present for Chris, collected Kushi, locked up and Irisís husband, daughter and Rosalie arrived to collect us. It was cooler, driving to Izmir this time of the day. Rosalie certainly knew where the Stadium was, and the customs, but no one could tell us accurately where the International Vet was. I couldnít believe it, but it was a repeat of Fridayís charade! We followed the Agentís instructions but found only a customs post where the vet should be. The guard there telephoned the Agent, but he would not explain to the guard where the vet was. He insisted we go back to his office(another half-hour drive through what was now the morning rush hour). When we got there he told me we were running out of time. He put me, the cat and one of his lads in a taxi and we went back to the stadium. Aidan stayed with our luggage. The lad couldnít find the vet, nor could the taxi driver. I wanted to scream. Then the taxi driver asked another taxi driver who directed us and, to my astonishment and fury, it was in the parallel road to the one we had stopped in, from where the customs guard had telephoned the Agent about an hour ago!
The fun was not over. The man staffing the veterinary office took us down a long corridor into another office. There he looked at the certificate completed by Nevzat and filled in a similar certificate with a yellow outer cover. I sat and put the cat, which was in its plastic carrier, to the right side of my chair.
The vet came in and stood by my left side. She looked at Nevzatís certificate and pointed out that the cat had not had a rabies injection. I explained that she would receive one when she landed at Heathrow. She said the cat should have one now. I disagreed and told her that even if she had one now, she would still have to have one when she landed in London, it was the regulation. She said that I could please myself, but it would be my fault if I had difficulties in London. I agreed that it would. 1 asked if there would be any difficulty in leaving Turkey and she replied there would not. She signed the form and left. From where she stood she could not even see the catís carrier, let alone the cat. Indeed, I could have had a rat or a squirrel in the box, she would not have known. So much for the International Vetís certificate of my catís fitness to travel. I was asked to pay - about £1.50, and given the certificate.
I had asked the taxi to wait and it took us back to the Agent. In all I had paid almost £73 in taxi fares and wasted many hours being driven round lzmir on Friday and today, for a worthless, but apparently essential, certificate.
The Agent had almost completed the formalities by the time we got back. I paid him the airfare for the cat and his fees, the customs charges etc etc in sterling cash. lt came to £178.20. I gave the Agent £180. He smiled and asked if that was OK. I responded that it was OK if he gave me my change in Turkish Lira. It was petty of me, but I was still angry that he had not told the customs guard how near we were to the Vet centre some hours ago. I asked if he could fax the Airway Bill details to our Agent in England. He said it was not possible. I said 1 would pay. He said he could. He faxed it for me and charged me £4, which went into his desk drawer. So he got his tip.
I had to leave Kushi with him, which worried me. He would not allow us to travel with her to the airport. I had strapped a packet of food to her box and she had food and water. Aidan had made her a raised platform inside the box, with a towel underneath, so she would not have to lie in her urine. I used the small portable fan, which I had brought from England and used at the shelter, to keep her cool in the Agentís office. The Agent had thought that most peculiar, so I knew there was no point in asking him to do the same on her journey to the airport. We left her with some misgivings. We walked to a small restaurant, had a snack and asked the restaurant owner if he could get us a taxi to the airport. He offered to take us himself for £12. We had no idea how far it was, but we were tired and anxious about the cat and just wanted to get there. In fact it was a long ride and Iím sure his was a fair price. He was also a very interesting young man, a budding entrepreneur, and he gave Aidan a sample of his excellent quality T-shirts free. His driving was somewhat erratic, but I did up my seat belt and left the rest to fortune.
We arrived at the airport in time to see Kushi being loaded onto her Swiss Air flight. A young man carried a bright pink cat box from the roasting runway into the hold and 1 shed a tear or 2 of relief. Aidan said it was appropriate that it was Swiss Air: Switzerland, the Red Cross and Refugees. We watched her plane taxi down the run way and take off. What on earth must she make of it all? She will spend tonight in Zurich and will land at Heathrow tomorrow at 8.30 am. We, on the other hand, had 14 and a half hours to wait at the Airport before our 3.30 am flight to Gatwick. The airport seats were plastic and hard and orange juice was £2.50 a cup. We did a lot of reading and, as it was only a few degrees lower inside the airport than out, we drank an awful lot of orange juice.
The flight indicator stated that the flight which Kushi should have taken, Cyprus Turkish Airlines 10.30 am this morning, had been indefinitely delayed. Perhaps the Cargo Agent had done her a service after all.
On reaching Aidanís home I was surprised how large his 19 year old cat looked. He said the same. When I got to my home, my 4 cats looked like giants. I realised it was in comparison to the poor little cats we had seen in Kusadasi. I telephoned the quarantine kennels. Kushi had been delayed at Heathrow because her carrier had been damaged. When she did arrive I went to see her. She was fine. She hadnít been fed on the journey - the bag of food was still attached to the outside of her box, but the kennels had fed her and she seemed amazingly calm after her ordeal. Her box was smashed at the rear of the top - for all the world as if a boot had been stamped down on it. My money is on the lzmir Agent - next time, if there is a next time, líIl let him keep the change. Still, she was unhurt and that was all that mattered.
There are several rescued cats in quarantine, including Kushiís neighbour, Smokey, a very handsome grey rescued by a woman staff sergeant who found him while serving in Bosnia.
The quarantine kennels, Par Air Services at Stanway, are excellent, attractive, well maintained with caring owners and staff. I visit every day except Sunday, when visiting is not allowed. A vet looks at all the quarantine animals daily. Kushi has put on weight, her fur has improved and she came into season 2 weeks ago. She has not had kittens although she is about ten months old, presumably because she was in poor condition. I shall have her spayed at the end of her quarantine - she cannot be moved to a vetís surgery for the operation without Ministry permission and that is only given in exceptional circumstances.
Some of the cats in quarantine are unhappy, but Kushi is in heaven. She has 2 good meals a day, a beautiful padded bed (my daughter bought it for her) and many toys. There is a radiator behind her bed for the winter and the kennel maids love her and play with her. Everyone is amazed at how lively and playful she has become and how agile she is despite her missing leg. 6 months is a long time, but I suspect it will be more of a strain for me than for her, and there is pleasure in knowing that she is safe.
Joanne and Chris have telephoned me with news of the cats. Cupboard Cat and her daughter have been spayed as has Pammuk the little white dog, but Joanne thinks her owners still want to get rid of her. There could not be a sweeter, gentler, more obedient little animal. Sheís really pretty too. I hope Joanne can find her a loving home. If there were no quarantine Iíd bring as many back home as I could afford. If she is still unhomed by the time I return to Turkey Iíll bring her back - Kushi will he out of quarantine at the end of January and a small dog wonít cost much more than a cat. I wonít say anything to Joanne though, there might be a more needy animal when we get there. Doris the dog will be spayed shortly. Chris still has little Muzzie and doesnít want to part with him.
Joanneís mother, who lives in Leicester, is going to visit Joanne in September. Joanne has asked me to send various pet products arid more Vicryl sutures (for Ahmet) with her, which I will do. Aidan will try to get hold of a second hand video player for Nevzat, so he can watch the spaying video. Joanne has phoned again and said that one of the cats he has recently spayed for her, the stitches came undone and her intestines protruded. It was all put right at once, but it may be a risk with an incision under the abdomen, as all the weight of the contents of the abdomen then press down on the stitches.
If we can get as many people as possible to, politely; write to the Mayor, asking him to support a sterilizing policy for street cats (and dogs) and to stop the poisoning, that would be a great help. Perhaps, if you or your friends write, they could also mention the dog shelter (the municipality pays the wardenís wages) requesting that the Mayor ensures that the dogs are adequately fed, that would be a kindness too. The Mayors address is: Engin Berberoglu, Kusadasi Belediye Baskani, Kusadasi, Turkey
If you have the time and energy, I know the vet would be surprised but very pleased to receive a card thanking him for all heís done for the animals. He may get little respect in Turkey, but Iíve told him he will be greatly respected by all who hear about him in England. His address is: Nevzat Yildizli, Veteriner Hekim, Inonu BuIv., Kemal Ankan CD, No 48, Kusadasi, Turkey. Many thanks.
Thank you again for helping to make it all possible. Though towards the end of our trip I longed to be back home, I now find that at all kinds of odd times, at work and at home, I suddenly remember a cat and feel anxious about how it is coping, or wonder if Nevzat has been to see the mangy dog at the shelter, or if Charlie and Broken Paw have been spayed, and wish I was back in Kusadasi doing something about it all. We will go back in December. I wish them all safe until we get there.
I have booked on a flight to return to Turkey on 14th November. I will be there until 28th and Aidan will be staying until 12th December. We will be staying with Chris. Our 3 aims will be:
Chris and Joanne have already made Improvements at the dog shelter. They are gradually getting the yard concreted, which will improve hygiene. They have bought disinfectant and scrubbed the whole place. They have bought straw for the dogs to sleep on. They have arranged for various hotels to deliver food more regularly and have taken food there themselves. Since July the population of the dog shelter increased to over 60 (adults and puppies). Chris and Joanne had all the puppies inoculated. However, sadly, they now have a parvovirus outbreak and many puppies and some adult dogs have died, even some who were inoculated. They are trying to build a separate cat shelter (all 4 little kittens at the shelter have perished. 2 were killed on the road and we suspect that the dogs killed the other 2, so it is really important that a separate secure facility is built for cats and kittens).
Joanne will have gone to Prague by the time we arrive, alas. However, she will take Pammuk, the little white dog, and several cats to Prague with her and find them kind homes. She discovered when she visited Prague recently, that the local people are, on the whole, animal lovers and there is no quarantine there.
I wrote to several animal charities asking that they help put pressure on the Mayor to stop the poisoning by asking their member/supporters to write - a flood of letters would shock him into reconsidering. PETA has not yet replied. IFAW said they could not help (very disappointing, Iíve supported them for over twenty years and they send out so many mailings, a quick post-script on one would have cost them little).
WSPA are being very supportive, Trevor will again go to Kusadasi to talk to the Mayor and, if he can pressure him into improving the dog shelter WSPA may also be able to offer some assistance though, quite rightly, it is their policy to try to make the local authorities accept responsibility. Iím very impressed with WSPA. I knew nothing much about them until recently, but they have certainly helped, finding Nevzat for me and preparing the way for Julyís work.
The quarantine vet - a delightful young woman - has read my report and is prepared to visit Kusadasi next year and work with Nevzat and Ahmet, teaching them new surgery techniques. This is marvellous news, she has the knowledge and experience to do so much more than unqualified people like Aidan and me, though we will certainly give her our support. Further, the Amolds veterinary supplies rep for this area, a splendid lady called Claire, is also keen to go to Kusadasi next year and work with us. It was Claire who obtained cat-gut sutures and 2 boxes of vicryl sutures for the last trip. Claire is very experienced, having worked abroad on similar projects, so she will be a wonderful help.
I have written to My Cat magazine to ask the readers to write to the Mayor to stop the poisoning. I have also created a petition for friends who donít want to write a letter. I have entered Kushi in a Top Cat competition (for bravery and loyalty). If, by good fortune she should win, the prize is £300 holiday vouchers (which would pay an airfare) and a yearsí supply of Vetzyme cat health products which would go straight to the Kusadasi cats, so please cross your fingers for Kushi. (Kushi is growing a thick, much darker grey winter coat, though the heating is now on at the kennels. She has a hearty appetite - I think sheís trying to grow another leg!) I am working on an article for Saga magazine (they pay £100 which would be a help towards Nevzatís work) but have been so busy that itís not yet complete.
I have bought (at a bargain price) 2 second-hand plastic ĎVari-kennelsí from the quarantine kennels to take as recovery pens. They are large, strong, hygienic and as the weather will be cold there wonít be the summer over-heating problem. Aidan and I will use them as cases on the journey out, putting our clothing and the veterinary products etc in black plastic bags inside them, so we donít go over our baggage allowance, and weíll leave them with Chris.
The practice nurse at Mintern and Hill veterinary surgery, has obtained a large box of Panacur wormers free for me, suitable for cats and dogs. They are very gentle and can be mixed with food, so ideal for undernourished animals. Friends and colleagues at work are collecting old towels, which we will need for bedding and will probably have to throw away afterwards as it will be much more difficult to dry them in the November rains.
Chris has asked me to bring some plastic strip Ďcurtainsí (like cheap harem curtains) to keep out the flies at the shelter (there is a problem with fly-strike when animals have an open wound.) I have looked locally but cannot find any, perhaps they are just a summer item. Aidan is quite restless to return to Turkey. He is very good at DIY and will help with the shelter improvements, building a secure run round an olive tree for the cats.
Iíve had several letters of support from people who have read my log, which is very encouraging. Iím both slightly dreading and looking forward to returning to Turkey. Knowing that there are people who donít think Iím completely mad is a real encouragement Thank you. Iíll keep in touch about our next visit to Kushi and let you know of any other developments before I go.
Kushi coped well with quarantine and joined Jackie at her Chelmsford home. Sadly she was killed on the road, being unused to British traffic.