Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro frequently visited by tourists for its medieval towns, rich history, and beautiful landscapes. Another reason Kotor attracts tourists is its feline population. Everywhere you go, you can find a cat roaming the streets, basking in the sun, or perched on a pillar.
Kotor has a large population of cats, which have become a symbol of the city and a number one holiday destination for cat lovers.
The History of Kotor Cats
Cats have always had a home in Kotor. It is said that during the Austro-Hungarian navy revolt in 1918, Slavic sailors sailed their ships into The Bay of Kotor, but they didn’t come alone; their cats came along with them too.
The mindset toward the cats is said to have evolved from folklore, with the Montenegrin people believing that cats saved the town of Kotor. The cats were necessary to protect the village from rats, mice, and snakes. Because they come from all over the world, the Kotor cat population is a large and multicultural one!
Even the town’s name is cat-related; “Kotor” is the Montenegrin form of the Italian “Cattaro,” which means cats. Numerous shops sell cat-themed merchandise in Kotor’s maze of alleys, and there is a museum with feline-themed treasures.
How Many Cats Are There in Kotor, Montenegro?
In 2010, an unidentified person began poisoning the cats, killing at least 30 strays. Caring citizens raised concerns and successfully campaigned for local authorities to protect the innocent felines.
The square near the church of St Marys is now the official place where the cats can be fed, as they are most concentrated in that area of the city. But how many stray cats are there in Kotor, Montenegro?
While there is no definitive answer, the number of stray cats is in the thousands. To gain some perspective, if one female cat produces an average of three kittens per litter and produces two litters a year, that is 12 kittens from just one cat! In five years, that’s 11,801 cats!
While there are thousands of stray cats populating the city of Kotor, the numbers are stabilizing thanks to the help of Kotor Kitties. Kotor Kitties is a charity registered in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Montenegro that provides free sterilization and medical care to cats throughout Montenegro.
The charity was started by an American tourist whose goal was to raise funds to have at least 10 cats spayed, and only one year later, 796 cats were spayed. Another 4 years later, they more than doubled that number to 7,098. That’s a lot of stray cats!
The movement has spread, and locals and volunteers are now helping capture the cats, so they can be fixed before returning to the town.
Are the Cats in Kotor Looked After?
The sweet cats of Kotor generally seem happy and healthy when you spot one, but they need help. The reality for some of them is the same as most stray cats. They can go cold and hungry and are usually chased away from restaurants.
Furthermore, the kittens born from the stray cats are usually injured or riddled with fleas and worms. With the help of volunteers, Kotor Kitties captures and spays the cats, which humanely controls the population of cats in Kotor. The Montenegrin community is now embracing them and even keeping them as pets.
The kitties of Kotor are also receiving help from local vets, and in the museum, visitors can leave donations that go toward housing and feeding the cats.
How Can You Help to Keep Stray Cats Safe?
If you have stray cats in your town and are inspired by the story of the Kotor cats, there are ways you can help keep them safe. You can build them a shelter made from repurposed wood or an old plastic shelter that is well-sealed and insulated. It doesn’t need to be big since cats usually use body warmth to keep warm.
During the warmer months, placing the shelter in the shade can keep it cool, and elevating it can keep it off the damp ground and dry. Avoid putting blankets in the enclosure as they may get smelly and ruined from urine.
You can feed the cats once a day at the same time so they get used to the feeding routine. Pick up the bowl 30 to 45 minutes after they have finished eating until the next day. Because canned food contains more fat than dry food, it is ideal for the winter.
Also, it’s essential to provide them with fresh water near their shelter. If there are too many stray cats for you to help alone, reach out to the community and consider a fundraising effort to help pay for food, housing, and spaying and neutering.
Kotor, Montenegro, is famous for its cat population and is a popular attraction for cat-loving tourists. While there are too many cats to count, thousands live in the town and can be spotted around every corner. They originally came on ships with sailors and were used to eradicate rats and mice.
Organizations are now involved in capturing the cats, spaying or neutering them, and sending them safely back into the town. They are also cared for by locals, veterinarians, and cat lovers who know their story and want to help by donating money.
Featured Image Credit: Jason_yu, Shutterstock