This article was written for Fethiye Times by Sian Midgley
Protecting A Man’s Best Friend
Many animal lovers in the area will already know that Animal Care Uzumlu (ACU) run a dog park which has been helping street dogs for over 2.5 years, thanks to the Forestry Commission who allowed them to use some public land as long as there were no permanent structures. The park is home to a maximum of 15 dogs at any one time – puppies, dogs that need to convalesce after an operation or illness or dogs that just aren’t suited to a life on the street. They are all vaccinated and neutered and roam free, returning for food and shelter whenever they wish.
Kitties Need Love Too
But, did you know that there is also a cat park? Or a little slice of furry heaven as I prefer to call it. After seeing the success of the dog park, local cat lover Claire got together with ACU to discuss opening a cat equivalent. At that time Claire was feeding cats in seven different places, often finding herself on the receiving end of hostility from people who didn’t want the cats around, so she felt that both herself and the cats would be safer if the fur babies were all together in a more rural area.
With the help and support of volunteers and local benefactors, the cat park has now been up and running since May 2018 and currently houses around 20 cats, although that number is likely to increase to 40 in the coming months.
Sadly a bout of distemper a few months ago severely depleted the number of cats at the park. To prevent this from happening again another area known as ‘The Secret Garden’ was also put into play. Now any new cats picked up go The Secret Garden after a trip to the vets and after a few days and a clean bill of health they are then moved to the cat park where they are put into an enclosure for a week or so before being allowed to roam free. The Secret Garden is also home to cat families until the kittens are old enough to leave, or are adopted. As with the dogs, all cat are vaccinated and neutered as a matter of priority. Most of the neutering is done at the local council animal shelter or under the HANDS scheme.
Best 90 Minutes EVER!
I had the pleasure of spending some time at the cat park last week (I didn’t need to be asked twice!). My first surprise was the greeting I received from numerous cats as I walked down the path – I had assumed they were all kept inside a large enclosed area. I met four of the volunteers, including Claire, as well as some distinctly characteristic cats including Daisy; an extremely fat cat with a wind issue, Aslan; who didn’t seem at all disturbed at the news he was losing his dangly bits shortly, and Peter who came very close to ‘accidentally’ falling into my handbag.
What surprised me was how well adjusted all the cats seemed to be and how comfortable they were being around each other and those strange human things that feed them – all this was completely down to the love, care and cuddles given to them by the volunteers. In fact, it is a true testament to those volunteers that many of the cats choose to stay there when they could easily wander off in search of adventure, excitement and life changing experiences.
How Can You Help?
If you are a cat or dog lover and have a few hours to spare here and there why not join the volunteers at the parks? It’s not all about cleaning and feeding, you also get plenty of time to cuddle the residents (including the volunteers if you ask nicely) and it is a great way to switch off from what’s happening in the world for a while. Due to the out of the way location your own transport would be a huge benefit. Alternatively join my cycle group and I’ll have you cycling up Üzümlü hill in no time! They are also desperately looking for short term foster carers who can take in cats for a few days or a maximum of six weeks until the cats in question are fit enough to be released in the park.
For more information contact ACU via their Facebook Page
And if anyone needs me, just tell them I’m too busy having snuggles with Peter…