Annual Letter Jan. 2012 (see PICTURES below)

31 January 2012

Dear friends of « Les Chats du Mercantour »,

First of all I’d like to wish everyone a happy New Year and good health in 2012 and thank everyone for their support.

This year our notoriety increased even more in large part thanks to the airing of « L’Américaine du Mercantour », an episode about me and the association on the French animal show « 30 millions d’Amis » shown on France 3 on March 5th of last year.  You can see the show on our website (www.leschatsdumercantour.com).

In 2011 the town of Roquebillière in the valley of the Vésubie has been added to the list of mountain communities who have taken the positive initiative to control their stray cat population and the nuisance it causes with our capture/neuter/release program.

Another one of our services to the towns that show a positive initiative is that we help them out when they have serious hygienic problem caused by a resident having too many cats.  In the case of Roquebillière we removed 16 of the 18 cats that were living in an apartment in the center of the village with a woman and her handicapped mother.  We persuaded the woman to hand over her cats to the association (she kept the two that were neutered) and with A LOT of hard work and loving care we were able to find good homes for the majority of these nice cats and two of them, Margarita and Flocon, now live in the Lazy Claw Cabin.  In cases like this we ask the town to pay the veterinary costs such as sterilization, tattoo, test for diseases, treatment for worms, fleas and earmites.  In 2009 we took in 18 cats that lived in an apartment with an elderly couple at the social housing in Isola Village.  At times like these we really count on our supporters to rally around us and help out by providing foster homes so these gentle cats can stay in a nice family environment instead of being cooped up in a cage while waiting to be adopted.  Moussette, Mickey and Zeus who now live in the Lazy Claw Cabin come from this group of 18 cats in Isola, the others have been adopted.

Since our creation in 2006 we have worked in cooperation with all of the communities in the valley of the Tinée, most of the communities in the valley of the Vésubie and even a couple of others in the valley of the Var and Daluis.  See the list of the towns we work with and number of cats treated in each of those towns on our website in the « Sterilization Statistics » section or in our yearly gazette.  We are now up to over 1100 cats treated (sterilized and/or rehomed).

This past year we’ve added equines to the animals we keep and have started a program with the adult mentally handicapped unit of our local hospital in St Etienne de Tinée.  Jonathan, resident of this unit, volunteers once a week to help take care of Obélix, the pony we have adopted.

Also in 2011 we benefitted from a program supported by the state to help associations like ours hire an employee.  We’ve been able to hire a secretary, Carine Vivaldo, to help out with the mountains of paperwork having an association in France entails as well as helping out with the care of the animals.

I must thank all of our cats’ sponsors for their support.  A sponsor is someone donates money each month for the care of one or more of our cats, this is done either by an automatic deposit into the association’s account or by credit card directly on our site with the Paypal “Sponsor a Cat” button.  This financial support helps us use other funds we receive to go towards the capture and sterilization of stray cats.  We have about 75 cats that either have a sponsor or need a sponsor.  15 at the Lazy Claw Cabin and Cold Nose Barn, around 15 at our headquarters in the village in St Etienne de Tinée, 25 at Lydie’s place in the mountains (Lydie is our main volunteer – she is very devoted and she really helps me out with the captures and the care of the cats) and we have about 20 others in various sterilized colonies in the Tinée and Vésubie valleys who are looked after by volunteers.  Pictures and descriptions of most of these cats are on our site.

Thanks to Claude and a very handy English volunteer, Chris, we have fixed up the attic of the “Cold Nose Barn” (Obélix’s home) to act as another shelter like the “Lazy Claw Cabin” where sterilized cats who would otherwise be homeless now have shelter and are cared for.  The Cold Nose Barn and the Lazy Claw Cabin are both equipped with cat-flaps so the cats are free to come and go as they please and in the wintertime these shelters are heated (a bit) and equipped with heated cushions.  We go everyday to take care of our little boarders as well as Obélix and another horse, Nénés, who lives with him.  If anyone would like to help us out by taking turns caring for our furry friends I’m always looking for volunteers.  Both of these cabins are located on the land next to where Leslie and Claude are renovating an old barn to eventually call their home.

The very sad news of 2011 is that Osane, Leslie’s horse, had an accident and had to be put down.  When Leslie first adopted him he was in pretty sad shape but after a few months of really good care (dentist, osteopath, veterinarian), good food and loving care he went from a sad, submissive, arthritic old horse to a beautiful, proud, energetic horse.  We are all very sad and we miss Osane.

The work we do wouldn’t be possible without the support of generous donors and sponsors as well as volunteers to foster kittens and help out with the captures and the care of the cats.  We presently receive subsidies that pay for about 10% of our expenses and we have very few volunteers so more than ever I’d like to thank all of you for your support.

Enjoy the enclosed pictures.

Sincerely,

Leslie Frasier – president

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