Monday, 26 January 2015

THAT'S AMORE! - An Interview with Paola Raggi, Proud Gattara in Montopoli di Sabina

My humans, Richard and James with Paola and Stella in March of 2014

Smokey: Miao, Paola. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today. I really appreciate your time. I had heard so much about you from my humans before I came here and it was such a pleasure to meet you in person here in Casperia. I have really been looking forward to this.

I understand from my humans that you live in Montopoli, a couple of towns south from where I live in Casperia, but that you once lived in Canada. Can you tell me this story? I understand that you were actually born here in Italy, moved to Canada, and came back…

Paula Raggi: You're very welcome Smokey... Mio piacere. It's such a long story. I will try not to bore you!

I was born in Sicily many moons ago. We only stayed in Sicily for four years and soon after we moved to Torino. 

Paola with her family in Italy

We lived in Torino—you may know it as Turin—for six years until one day Dad decided to move to Canada. Once I arrived in Canada I soon discovered that I really disliked it—especially the winters! I had no choice, caro Smokey, but I knew that someday, somehow, I would go back to Italy! 

Many years later, and after many not so pleasant events, I finally made it back to Italy! First for a few weeks, and slowly I found myself loving this area, the Sabina, so much that I made it my second home. 

The view of the centro storico of Montopoli above the olive groves near Paola's home

Here is where I met my partner Paolo. I was helping a friend run their agriturismo and Paolo was a client.. The rest is history!

Paola with Stellina on his shoulder

We lived in Fiano Romano at first, in a little apartment. Small but I liked it… It was home!

Count the number of my feral friends in this flower pot!

S: I understand that you and your partner Paolo care for a feral colony of cats on your farm. How many cats live on your farm and how did that come about?

My feral friends signalling to Paola and Paolo that it is meal time

PR: It all started there Smokey. We had a couple of strays come around for meals and shelter. In a short time I found myself with thirteen kittens—yes the three cats were all pregnant! It was crazy to say the least! I had kittens everywhere in my patio. Some were really sick. I had to call the vet for a house call as I could not take all thirteen kittens to him! It was very expensive but I could not do otherwise! Some I lost along the way—they were really sick—but a good number survived! I had to administer the meds twice to three times a day—not an easy job with kittens as you know! One of the mother cats would not nurse her kittens and one of the other mother cats took the kittens like her own and nursed them instead Amazing to say the least, caro Smokey!

Our dog Pia—we had rescued her in 2001 from a bad situation­­­­­­­—she was only a little white fur ball when we found her. Anyway, she got used to the kitten. She was actually licking them and gently playing with them—like a mom would! Pia has lots of love in her little heart!

When it was time to move I found a good home for some of the kittens and the rest we took to the Sabina to Montopoli in the country.

Kaki with her Mom, Kooki

S: Is there any support for people like you from the comune, or other local organizations?

PR: In Montopoli, we started with five cats and, little by little, we became seventeen. We finally were able to find some help with the ASL (health department) of Rieti. Through them we managed to get free sterilization for our feral colony. I had to register my feral colony first. I certainly don’t mind feeding them and taking care or other medical expenses but I could not afford to sterilize them all!

Meal time is sometimes a free for all on the front patio of Paola and Paolo's

S: Where do these cats come from? How to they come to arrive at your door?

PR: Many of my cats are strays. Some are from the same family, and some are left by some cruel human beings! I love each one of them… It takes a lot of patience and love to take care of them, but it all pays off at the end...They give me lots back too!! I think they know that here they will find a shelter, a place where there is lots of love for each one of them!

S: Have you always had cats in your life?

PR: I grew up with cats and dogs and every time I lost one I suffered, but it's worth the pain. Not to have them in my life it would be really a big loss!

S: My favourite word in Italian that I have learned so far is “gattara". How do you respond to that word? Do you consider yourself a gattara?

PR: I am a proud gattara. I don't mind it at all!

S: I can appreciate that looking after a colony of my feral friends is a huge responsibility and that it takes a lot of your energy and time, but what are the rewards… What does looking after my feral friends give you in return?

PR: When I take my walks around the property, I look behind and around me and I see all my little furry babies who follow my every step, side by side, that makes it all worthwhile!! I know that I am blessed!

S: And we are blessed by you Paola. Thank you, and thank Paolo for everything you do for my feral friends.

This post is dedicated to the memory of little Stellina


No comments:

Post a Comment