They may be out of sight but the homeless cats of Bulgaria are not out of mind thanks to local cat lover Tanya Stoilova of Blagoevgrad and Tina Brown in the UK.
In the process of setting up The Animal Care Foundation, Tanya and Tina are appealing for support from UK cat lovers, be it in the form of donations or new homes.
There are already cats in Tanya’s care, rescued from the streets of Bulgaria, some sick and injured, some elderly. Tanya’s aim is to create a cat village in Bulgaria so cats and kittens have a place of safety and love.
“Cats have always played a significant role in my life. Back in the days when I was a small baby, I had a cat sleeping next to me. I remember the cat and the love I felt for her. We had her till I was seven years old,” Tanya says.
“Last year, after losing my beloved 19-year-old Siamese cat Suzanna, I simply felt the urge to help homeless cats. Ever since, destiny has meant me meeting up with lots of injured, unwanted and thrown-away cats. There are thousands of homeless cats in Bulgaria. I had a chance to help a small number of them.
“Our small cat family consists of 17 cats and 18 kittens. All of them rescued from the streets and a terrible life. The number of the cat-family members is growing extremely fast. At first I found one little kitten, which I took home and soon they became four. I couldn’t have more cats in the apartment, therefore I was forced to look for another solution.
“I now rent a small house in a village, where my cats run and play outside. Within six months, the cats became 17, and within last month the kittens went from five to 18. My ultimate goal and dream is to be able to build a cat shelter, big enough to offer home and loving care to all homeless cats, so there will not be any left on the streets.”
Tanya is able to organise vaccinations, microchipping and transportation from Bulgaria and have a new website thanks to Tina, www.animalcarebg.com
Tina explains how she got involved: “All my life cats have been a huge part and I adore and respect them entirely. When I was lucky enough several years ago to spend some time living and working in Bulgaria, I was horrified at how animals are treated there. I spoke to many locals about this and was told that they only saw animals as important if they could be used to work; horses and dogs. Cats were seen as mice catchers on farms only and served no other purpose at all.
“It broke my heart when to my horror I found tiny little live kittens thrown away in wheelie bins in a village. This sadly is commonplace. Neutering is practically unheard of. In a country where villagers’ priorities are their own existence it’s very hard to get the message of animal respect and welfare across. I was laughed at whenever I mentioned this and also for having what they called a ‘house cat’ as this was unheard of.
“During my time in Bulgaria I met a vet in Sofia, from the Blue Cross Clinic, Dr Borislav. He was very kind to my elderly lady Mai, a rather temperamental tortie and he helped me greatly in my return to the UK with her and her Pet Passport. I have kept in touch with him and recently he put me in touch with Tanya, a lady for whom cats mean the world.
“My partner and I are now in the process of setting up www.animalcarebg.com and thinking of ways that people can find out about her work and raise awareness both here in the UK and abroad. We aim to run some charity fundraising events and run talks about her work. Also we will be looking for sponsors for Tanya’s long term residents.
“It will be a struggle and not an easy task but with our small and dedicated team we will certainly do all we can. We want to try and raise enough funds to set up a neutering program and also to help Tanya with the costs of building her feline dream.”
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in Your Cat magazine. Republished by permission.