Cats of Old San Juan

The multitude of pigeons in Old San Juan encourages the presence of their inevitable counterparts: legions of feral cats. Like pigeons, cats are a common sight along the Old Town’s narrow streets. They look healthy and seem to get regularly fed by fellow city residents. Many are friendly and curious, but most are watchfully uninterested–like cats everywhere, I suppose.

Black cat in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Like the stunning black cat in Stellenbosch, this cat by our hotel reminded me of my childhood cat, Simona

The most dramatic way to meet this part of local society is to share the sunset with them at Paseo del Morro, a picturesque trail that runs through the San Juan Gate along the grizzled City Wall. A colony of cats has lived there for, some say, centuries, ever since the Spanish came and built the structure. As the sun begins to set, the cats gather on warm rocks and soak in the day’s last rays. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: the sunset over the Bay or the company.

Cats in Old San Juan, Paseo del Morro, Puerto Rico

Read about my sunset with the cats here

These cats treat the Old Town as very much theirs, relaxing in the shade of parked cars, napping in the luxury of large flower pots, and curling up in private courtyards.

Cat lounging under car in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cat sleeping in pot, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cat sleeping in an Old San Juan courtyard, Puerto Rico

When the mood strikes, they engage and follow you along their block–until somebody else comes along in the opposite direction.

Cats, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Friendly cat, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan cat, Puerto Rico

And, as we saw outside of the Parque de las Palomas, they hunt. Then they hurry for dinner, left for them by humans.

Dinnertime for Old San Juan cats, Puerto RicoI was glad to see that not only are these cats fed and given water by people who live here, but that there is an organization that tries to keep them healthy and safe: Save a Gato. This post describes several ways one can help Save a Gato and San Juan’s cats. Volunteers monitor cat colonies on Paseo del Morro and the rest of the city and run the crucial trap/neuter/release program. Some cats are adopted, those that are not are brought back to their feline family and given veterinary help like vaccinations and necessary treatment. Those cats that have been neutered have a clipped ear–we met one of them by the Bay. Next time we head to San Juan, I will be sure to get in touch with Save a Gato and perhaps volunteer with them. There are a number of ways for vacationers to get involved. Another reason to come back to this beautiful city, don’t you think?

Save a Gato cat in Paseo del Morro, Puerto Rico

Related posts:

A valuable resource:  DiscoveringPuertoRico, a great blog on everything Puerto Rico–from popular attractions to best-kept secrets–to help you plan your perfect vacation

27 thoughts on “Cats of Old San Juan

  1. Pingback: Pigeons of Old San Juan « Transplanted Tatar

    • I know! I only found out about the ear thing afterwards, so we weren’t paying attention–maybe we just got “lucky”. Many of the cats we met on the streets seemed really well taken care of, so I wonder if they actually belong to somebody… Thank you for stopping by, as always.

  2. Pingback: Old San Juan: Ingredients for a Perfect Sunset « Transplanted Tatar

  3. Pingback: Discovering Old San Juan: Two Castles and a Cemetery « Transplanted Tatar

  4. My youngest son still talks about the cats of Old San Juan from our day trip there (while on an airport layover). We surprised him with Save a Gato’s poster for Christmas that year which is still hanging in his room. ~ Kat

    • That’s so good to hear! I really wish I learned about Save a Gato before I went to San Juan. That trip was all a bit last-minute, and most of our discoveries there were fortunate stumbles–like the sunset with the cats. Thanks to you and your son for supporting such a great organization–and thank you for reading.

  5. One of the most perfect moments of my life was when, as I sat on the low wall at the edge of the paseo, I was approached by one of the cats. It rubbed itself against me and then let me pet it. My daughter was able to take a picture and I cannot look at it without my eyes tearing up. I also have a small Save A Gato poster I had framed for our living room in Indiana.

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  12. Pingback: San Juan, Puerto Rico: One amazing trip | Kat Runs D.C.

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