Every visitor will notice the presence of several felines around the Maltese Islands. What about the cats of Malta and why is it becoming known as the island of cats?
There are many cats in Malta. In the homes, in the streets, in the parks, by the water’s edge, fat cats live happily. In fact, Malta could well be the best place in the world to be a stray.
Locals are so accustomed to their presence that cats have come to play an integral role in the cultural landscape. It’s ordinary to shoo a snoozing cat off the roof off your car and to see cats gathering at the time the cat lady is due to appear with food. Most people tolerate them happily; others leave food and water on their doorstep; and some take it upon themselves to feed a colony for years.
The cats of Malta live happy lives with full bellies and not a care in the world. They pass their days snoozing in the sun and collecting titbits. They’ve even made it to the hall of fame, with calendars and mugs dedicated to the cats of Malta. So on an island dubbed ‘Island of Cats', let’s take a look at the cats you're likely to meet and their carers.
Malta's 'cat ladies'
Forget the middle-aged spinster, stray cat carers in Malta come of all ages and from all walks of life. These members of the local community invest personal time and private funds to care for and manage the Maltese population of felines. There’s even a book about the cat carers of Malta by Alexander Johnson and Gabriele Ruttloff-Bauer. An estimated 1,000 carers are naturally inspired towards a common cause: caring for approximately 3,000 stray and feral cats on the islands.
Fun fact: Did you know that a "Maltese cat" is any cat whose fur is either completely, or primarily, grey or blue and of an indeterminate breed?
Different types of cats of Malta
Meet the protagonists that earn Malta the nickname ‘Island of Cats’:
The window cat
Sticks to safety and cosy comfort.
The door cat
In or out? Who’s to decide.
The car cat
Mmmm it’s warm, it’s safe, it’s Zzzzz...
The bench cat
Understands true comfort.
The community cat
Sharing is caring.
The boat cat
Boats are just big boxes.
The fisherman’s cat
Need I say more?
The satisfied fisherman’s cat
The cafe cat
Sees no point in risks as long as the belly fills... and fills his time with snoozing.
Cats are so well established on the islands that they once had their very own cat village in one of the prime areas of St Julian's. Over the years, the Cat Village became a Maltese icon loved and protected by the community and visitors alike.
Unfortunately, this beloved structure was demolished to make way for a nearby development last October.
Cat care: Organisations set up in Malta to look after stray cats include PAWS Malta, Stray Animal Support Group (SASG), Animal Care Malta and Tomasina Cat Sanctuary. Local clinics and private vets contribute towards neutering strays.
And now for the famous cats of Malta...
The cat with the fisherman, Spinola
Another fisherman's cat, Marsaxlokk
The cat fed by the boy on the stairs, Mellieha
Perhaps the nickname 'Island of Cats' does suit Malta after all.