Animal Rescue

Jennifer Pulling is a passionate defender of animal rights and founder of the Catsnip project for a catch/neuter/return policy and veterinary treatment of Sicilian feral cats.

After many stays in Sicily, Jenny remained horrified by the Sicilian local authorities answer to controlling the population of feral cats by poisoning them. She decided, with the help of several American vets and Dorothea Fritz, a German vet who lives in Naples, to organise neutering trips to Sicily. Today Catsnip remains a unique ‘first stop’ for tourists anxious about distressed or sick felines who seek advice and help.

As a writer and journalist, Jennifer has written and had published many articles on her mission to help these unfortunate felines. She has also published an educational book, which she takes round schools in Sicily, speaking to the youngsters about animal welfare and the need for neutering as the ONLY solution for the overpopulation of feral animals.

Jennifer is the Press Officer for Animals Worldwide, an international charity dedicated to preventing the cruelty of animals worldwide, particularly in the main tourist hotspots.

Christmas gift for felinophiles

'Every cat lover should read this book' one of my reviews ran. THE GREAT SICILIAN CAT RESCUE is for anyone who has come across a feral cat on holiday and found the nearest store to buy some tuna!  Some go much further like Sadie whose story of her determination to bring a blind cat back to the UK features in the book. 

Part two The Adventures of Caspar

What impressed me at that point was the incomprehension of many tourists in Sicily of the dire situation of its feline population. They appear to think the procedure is the same as might happen in the UK, i.e. good refuges where they could be taken. In this case, I was SO lucky to find a solution.

         Alessandra picked up the kitten and took him where she named him Caspar. As a volunteer for one of the few associations for animal welfare, she only fosters rescued cats until she can find them a good forever home.

         What happened next was heart warming. Caspar and another rescued ginger cat, Zazzy,  became friends. At first they played together but then they became inseparable, as you’ll see from the photographs. They sleep together, curled in each other’s arms. Over a few weeks and with Alessandra’ care, Caspar has grown into a healthy and rounded little kitten. His blue eyes gaze at the world with such innocence and trust. He has had all the necessary inoculations and been de wormed. When they are not sleeping, the two cats play and roam in Alessandra’s beautiful home and patio garden. As she told me, when Caspar has completed his medication and innoculations he and Zazzy will go to their forever home with her friend.

         I’ll finish with the advice I give to every tourist who asks me for help. Step one is to check whether there is a mother and never to remove them from their location until they are certain of this. Another interesting point concerns Italian law. Although it is illegal to remove any feral from where it is living, there is often a sad lack of care and attention to their nourishment and welfare. However, in Caspar’s case, he has become one lucky kitten whose story has a happy ending.


The Adventures of Caspar


Caspar’s story began when I received an email early last July. A couple were trailing their caravan along a country road in Abruzzo, southern Italy, when they saw the tiny kitten sitting in the middle of the road and narrowly missed hitting it. Wrote Lola: ‘I got out to move it, and the guy from the house in front came out and told me no, it wasn’t from there and I had to take it away. I saw what I assume was the mother cat looking for it, but he told me no it wasn’t the mother, and it wasn’t his cat so I couldn’t leave it there.

         The kitten with its blue eyes and seal pointed pale coat looked remarkable like a Siamese He journeyed on with the couple as they crossed the Straits of Messina and arrived in Sicily. On my advice, Lola took him to a vet who prescribed treatment for his eyes. Like so many cats in southern Italy he was suffering from an upper respiratory infection, which manifests in oozing from the eyes and can result in blindness if untreated.

         The emails increased. Lola told me she had no intention of keeping the kitten, they would shortly be moving on and insisted I find someone to take it. Animal rescue in Sicily is a tough assignment; there is a scattering of people and a few shelters, some of which are dubiously run. I put out an SOS on my Facebook page and was delighted when Alessandra replied. She agreed to pick up the kitten and take it home to Messina, a near by town. Meanwhile, Lola had sent me the first photographs of the little creature, which showed that he looked definitely like a Siamese.

         What impressed me at that point was the incomprehension of many tourists in Sicily of the dire situation of its feline population. They appear to think the procedure is the same as might happen in the UK, i.e. good refuges where they could be taken. In this case, I was SO lucky to find a solution.

The Werewolf Cat

Yes, there really is a werewolf cat! The Lykoi as it is properly called is a startling sight. Light patches of skin around the eyes,nose and mouth give them a strange dog/cat aspect. Their skinny body and yellow eyes glinting in their scruffy faces reinforce the werewolf look. In fact, their odd appearance owes nothing to human breeder's intervention, it is a natural mutation breed. Their story is even more interesting when you learn that cats with werewolf features have been found in both domestic and feral cats for quite some time. Many were found as strays or abandoned cats in shelters, some about to be euthanised just because they looked 'different' The famly who launched their breeding programme were actually giving these cats a second chance.It just goes to show that a breed can be established with health and personalityand at the ssme time support rescues.

53 Varieties: the wonderful world of cats

Over the past two months I have made an incredible journey, discovering the world of cat breeds. The resulting book will feature 53 varieties and explorss their many different natures and appearance. It is hard to decide which one is my favourite, they all something interesting and charming to offer. One of the most extrordinary is the Lykoi or Werewolf cat.   Light patches o skin around the eyes,nose and mouth give them a strange dog/cat aspect. Their skinny body and yellow eyes glinting in their scruffy faces reinforce the werewolf look. Neverteless, these are loving cats with much to offer anyone ewho gives them a home. 


The truth behind your Weiner Schnizel

Back in the nineties, I, in company with hundreds of other local people, demonstrated for months against animal live exports. Night and day, we were down at Shoreham Port to make our protest heard. I have never forgotten the sight of those huge, innocent eyes of young calves, peering through the slats of thelorries as they were borne abroad for the notorious veal crates. All these years later, people continue to eat veal without perhaps understanding the story of cruelty that lies behind their dish of weiner schnizel. It begins with the dairy industry where calves of both sexes are torn away from their mothers so that the cows will go onyielding up their mother's milk for human consumption. It continues with the practice of male calves being 'useless'because they do not produce milk and are therefore a 'waste product.' Even if they are allowed to live a wehile they will end up in restaurants as veal. The time has come to say enough of this crulety and to bring to light the truth behind the dairy indfustry. 

Cruelty free coffee

Over the past few weeks I've swapped dairy milk in my moring coffee for soya. To my slight surprise, it tastes just as good. But, of course, taste isn't everything, not by a long chalk. What warms my heart is that I am no longer taking part in the cruelty of the dairy industry. Many people are still unaware that the reason they can buy milk, yoghurt and cheese and the variety of dairy products found in the supermarket, is because baby calves are cruelly snatched away from their mothers. The pain these animals suffer in this separation should surely persuade any warm hearted person to forgo dairy and join the growing community who opt for plant based foods. 

It all began with Lizzie

The rescue of a feral cat called Lizzie set me on a mission, which continues to this day. It has been one of many obstacles but also success. My eyes have been opened to the shadowy side of Sicily, a place I believed I knew so well.

I’m a writer and journalist and, in 2002 I was having a prolonged stay in Taormina, Sicily while I worked on a book. My friend, Andrew, came to stay for a week or so and we took a trip to Castelmola, a little hill town village. The plan was to sit in a renowned old bar to taste vino al mandorla, almond wine. Instead, Andrew suggested we explore the tiny side streets and darted ahead. When I finally caught him up I found he was staring at something in silence.

            Lying on the ground was a small cat with a ghastly wound – a back leg so shattered the bones were protruding through the skin. As an ardent cat lover I knew I had to help. Many of the local people didn’t seem to care but I found a young man who suggested a vet he knew and allowed me to call him up. That was how I first met Giulio. But he couldn’t come until the evening.

Armed with torch, thick gauntlets and a humane trap, he and I prowled the dark streets until finally we caught her. Then it was back to Giulio’s surgery where she flew round the room like a cat demented until he managed to sedate her and set the break. While I waited I asked myself: why am I doing this? I knew the answer. Fate had somehow sent us down those narrow streets. Most people would have just left the cat to her fate.

The question was where could she stay while she recovered? To Giulio’s amusement I said I would nurse her in the apartment .I dared not tell my landlady what I was doing and had a terrible job hiding any traces if ever she popped in. Lizzie, I’d called her Lizzie, stayed with me for three weeks. She suffered her imprisonment in silence under the bed, emerging to scoff the tasty morsels I offered. She was my first experience of feral cats and I had no notion of their nature. Little did I know then, that I would learn a great deal more about these felines of the streets.

They have an innate mistrust of human beings. The mother cats train kittens to be quiet and stay put. A meow might attract predators. They will also make their kittens wash and wash to remove the scent of food from their fur, which again could attract the enemy. Their games prepare offspring for the life of a feral. A mother may play roughly with the dominant male kitten, training him to be an alpha male. She will teach her kittens to go to the food dish, forever watchful and poised to run, should a human appear. It is a game, but a grim one of survival.

            I was exploring new territory on this the beginning of my journey. ENDS

Jennifer Pulling is a writer, award winning playwright and journalist who has worked for many national newspapers and magazines as a travel and lifestyle writer. Her play, The Return won the Clemence Dane Cup. She is the author of Monet’s Angels (John Blake)

Jennifer runs the project Catsnip for the neutering and treatment of feral cats in Sicily. Her book The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue relates her one-woman mission to save an island’s cats.

Ava finds an unusual dad

Here's a story to brighten an autumn day.

Found cold and abandoned in a London garden aged just days old, things were looking bleak for kitten Ava – until she was rushed into Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, where she met Labrador Barney.

The now five-week-old kitten is still so young that she needs handfeeding every two hours and she’s being fostered by dedicated Battersea Vet Nurse Megan Goldring.

Ava spends much of her day in the Battersea clinic office – and it is here that she met Barney, who quickly decided that he was the top dog for the job of kittensittting.

The three-year-old Labrador has been taking his duties very seriously – snuggling with Ava, playing with her, and monitoring her every move around the office to make sure she’s safe. The duo even like to watch TV together during break time, with Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs being their favourite programme.

Like Ava, Barney had a difficult start to life. He was born on a puppy farm and ended up with owners who soon found they couldn’t cope with a lively puppy. They bought Barney into Battersea in 2014 and Head Nurse Rachel Ab’dee fell in love with him and adopted him.

Rachel said: “Barney adores Ava and can’t wait to come into Battersea every morning so he can see her. It’s great for Ava too, because she doesn’t have a mum or brothers or sisters, so Barney has become her best friend and favourite playmate. It’s wonderful to see them so happy together and to know that their most difficult days are behind them.”

Ava already has a home lined up for once she’s old enough to leave Battersea, but there are plenty of grown-up cats and dogs looking for a home at the world-famous shelter. To meet them, visit


Shame on the trapping of wild birds!

I received this from Max, a volunteer on Malta with CABS, an international group which comes to the island every season to monitor illegalities . He writes: 'As you might know the trapping season is now open becasue the government decided once more to open the season up to the end of the year . If you see any illegal trapping please do let us know. Even if you see birds in small cages let us know and we investigate. The hunting and lobby group find the support of the politicians because of the fact that they are a large lobby group with more than 10,00 licenced to hunt or trap birds and this figure when multiplied by other members of the familes result in a large number of votes. So both political parties in Malta do their best to help them to gain their votes. This is the pity situation in Malta.


Think I will hire out Sheba my black cat, as as a quality control manager. During this week, as my new kitchen takes shape, she has kept a close eye on the men's work, checking that the units are put in correctly and a space is left for her food tray. That is when she doesnt distract their attention by purring and rubbing herself against their legs. It has been a tiring week and today she is taking a rest. But she'll be back on the job tomorrow.



They say cats choose us and not the other weay round. I think this story illustrates that. 

A pregnant ginger cat walked up to a young man who wasn't very fond of cats, but she snuggled up to him and insisted that he take her home.

The friendly stray cat came across a couple and immediately took a liking to the young man. She followed him around, rubbing his legs and wouldn't let him go.

"She was very chatty and friendly, I told my boyfriend it was meant to be because they were both gingers’ he said.

The man realized that the cat had chosen him and wouldn't take no for an answer, so he gently picked her up and placed her in his car.

One day later, she gave birth to four very tiny kittens. The young mother was no more than six months old, and soon they realised that she couldn't produce milk and the kittens weren't looking good.

They tried to bottle feed the babies but due to illness they didn't survive.

The kitty later received life-saving surgery. If it weren't for the couple, the ginger cat might have had the same fate as her babies. After the surgery, she was finally on the mend.

They named her Sunny Bunny Sausage, and the ginger girl crept her way into their hearts. That day, they made her a permanent part of their family.

Dying man allowed to feed horse in hospice

I read this week that a hospice in North Devon allowed an 87 year old man to feed his horse for the last time.

Patrick saunder's bed was wheeled outside so that he could feed his horse carrits and apples. His daughter went to see him and saw him stroking the horse.

Firstly, full praise the hospice staff for enabling this to happen. So many people are dismissive of the bond that humans have with animals, and this horse clearly meant the world to Patrick. Not only that, but it will bring great comfort to his daughter as he father dies to know that he was granted his last wish.

But perhaps even more importantly, people don;t always recognise the bond that animals have with their owners. Studies have shown that animals have a sense of when their owners are ill or are dying, and owners suddenly being taken away can be confusing and distressing fior the animal. Allowing both animal and human to say goodbye can be a comfort all round.

Let's hope that this story sets an example for many others.

For full news story please see

Winter 2015

Big event of this year was the publication of my book The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue, which came out in June. It seems it is already achieving my aims in writing this book: many people have contacted me to say how much they are enjoying reading it and that it has raised their awareness of all the work still to be done to help these feral animals. I have also received some donations, which have all gone towards the winter programme of feeding and neutering. There was a great review of the book in the Daily Mail and articles have appeared in magazines including Closer.

Read more: Winter 2015

Spring 2015

Last winter, I had an SOS message from Elke. (the German lady who lives in Sicily and cares for over 100 cats) She had just heard that a cst loving lady had died, leaving behind a dog and 30 cats. She wrote to me:

‘I put dry-food and wet-food in my car, went there and rang the bell, in spite of people telling me not to go, because they think that the son is strange. He came out and I talked nicely to him for an hour. He is very shy, but was extremely happy that I came and brought the cat food. He has no job, but had just enough food for that weekend. But it is a super-sad situation. There are 8 females to be neutered and the animals need food for the winter. I am sorry to ask you if somebody can offer some money for this case, otherwise all these beautiful cats and the dog are risking to die over the winter.’

Read more: Spring 2015

Summer 2014

As I often say: ‘If only I could win the lottery,’ then I would have the funds to answer all the calls for help I receive. But thanks to several generous donations I have been able to do a great deal to help the plight of these feral cats.

Earlier this year, Paolina, the lady who is building an animal refuge was enabled to install a water supply and construct enclosures to house the dogs and cats she rescues. I was also happy to contribute to Elke’s store of cat food to see the numerous colonies she feeds through the winter.

Read more: Summer 2014

Catsnip Update: October 2016

As Catsnip marks its fourteenth birthday, I have some encouraging news. During my recent trip to Sicily I met up with Valeria, tireless worker with the Sicilian shelter L’Arca where numerous cats and dogs pass through its welcoming gates. Regular readers of my bulletins will remember that Valeria hosted my team when Guy Liebenberg and helpers carried out an intensive week of neutering in the town of Mascali. Our work galvanised the local State vets into action; they are now regularly neutering feral animals, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than ours. L’Arca has also moved into much nicer premises but the struggle to pay all the bills continues. I was able to make a donation towards this wonderful work. During my trip, I was also happy to see far more local people feeding the cats. On the other hand, I had a heated conversation with the owner of one feline: asking politely whether Lorenzo was neutered, he flew into a rage and said it was ‘against nature’.

Read more: Catsnip Update: October 2016

Animal Welfare Blog

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I am based in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Tel: 07599 813820



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