Volunteer Travel – The Cats Of Belize

Usually when I travel I like to plan something that involves nature, animals…or cats. I also really enjoy volunteering when I am away and this past December I booked a week holiday on Caye Caulker Belize and decided to spend my time at the P.A.W. (Protecting Animal Welfare) Cat Sanctuary & Humane Society.

Cats, PAW Cat Sanctuary, Belize, Caye Caulker, feral cats, Madi Collins

New Feral Cat gets comfortable at P.A.W. Cat Sanctuary

I had visited Caye Caulker a number of years back and had taken notice of the numerous stray cats all over the island as well as the few people who worked to help spay/neuter and protect them. The P.A.W. Cat Sanctuary is run by the extremely dedicated Madi Collins who is well-known for her work with cats.

Cats, Belize, PAW Cat sanctuary, Caye Caulker, Madi Collins,

P.A.W.  kitty enjoys some time in the sun.

Caye Caulker is a beautiful place but it is no stranger to animal abuse, neglect or cruelty and in 2003, Madi started the sanctuary to help with the huge stray cat population and to provide a safe place for them to live.

Madi operates a permanent sanctuary for the cats as well as running a spay/neuter clinic and finding time to teach humane education workshops. To say she is busy is an understatement. The sanctuary is a self-contained property with areas for the cats that Madi cares for on a permanent basis, and it also includes on site accommodations for volunteers. If you decide to volunteer here remember to book early as the spots tend to fill up fast and if you are a cat lover staying on site is a must!

Cats, Caye Caulker, Belize, PAW cat sanctuary, stray cats

Cats hang out in the grassy patch

Volunteers also get a discount when staying at P.A.W. and all the of the money goes directly to help the cats

There is something for everyone from helping with repairs, building shelters or working hands on with the cats, which is what I did. The day consists of shifts in the morning and evening helping Madi with feeding, watering, cleaning, litter changing and whatever else needs to be done, and while there is lots to do, it is extremely rewarding. Of course, there is always time for socializing and ensuring the cats get time to run around in the yard or relax with you on the dock overlooking the water.

Madi is the real deal and she is fully committed to helping animals, during my stay she was working on getting some newcomers (stray cats turn up all the time or are dumped) accustomed to being fed on the property and feeling secure. She will then go on to get them spay/neutered and ensure they have a safe place to stay.

Cats, Belize, stray cats, Siamese

Swiper looks on from the porch.

Besides volunteering in person, you can donate or purchase items off her Amazon wish list which are shipped over to the sanctuary or you can pack them in your suitcase and bring with you (Items that aren’t available in Belize such as special toys, food, treats, medicines and medical supplies are always needed). You can also arrange to adopt a cat or choose to be a flight parent for one that has already found a home.

If you decide to volunteer here I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to head  over and like their Facebook page to get updates and information on the sanctuary as well as the cats, and if you want to read up more about P.A.W you can check out my review on Tripadvisor. 🐱

Wisdom Wednesday Quote

“You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.” – Colonial proverb

Feral cats, friendly, TNR, Brooklyn, New York, Summer

Meeting a friendly, sweet stray cat in Brooklyn New York

I find cats everywhere I go, or is it they find me? 🐱

Lions And Cheetahs

I was looking at some pictures taken in the Serengeti on my first trip to Africa. They were shot with a crappy point and shoot camera, no fancy zoom lens, but looking back at them now I don’t think that matters. These were the first big cats I would see in the wild, and also the first images of the big cats that I would take. The moments represented would remain burned into my memory.

Cheetah, cheetah cubs, Africa, Serengeti, Throwback Thursday

Cheetah mom and 5 cubs trailing along behind her

I remember smiling ear to ear when this Cheetah mom crossed the road in front of our vehicle. I was so excited that I let out a squeal of joy but was quickly and politely told to  be quiet, my safari etiquette vastly improved since then. Mom walked passed us as if we weren’t there and her 5 cubs pranced by, their innocent and curious expression holding all of us captive.

Lions, Lioness, Africa, Serengeti,

Collard Lioness on rock

This hazy image is of one of my first Lions. This Lioness sat calmly on a rock turning only once to glance our way revealing a thick brown collar around her neck. She was one cool, regal cat. Although the photo is not ideal, at the time I didn’t care because what I saw was better than what any camera could capture. I remember being intrigued about the collar and wondered if it bothered her as it seemed cumbersome.

Africa has changed much since I first visited, as have my photographs (thankfully). These pictures are a marker of a time when there were no traffic jams in the Serengeti and Cheetah and Lion numbers were seemingly endless.