Lima, Peru, park is the cat's meow for felines

Lita Velasquez feeds cats in the central park of Lima's upscale seaside Miraflores district, in Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2012. About 120 felines populate the park. Some of the cats descended from a pair municipal authorities introduced in the late 1990s to control a rat infestation. After a local TV feature this week focused attention on the cat colony, a top official at Peru's environmental health agency announced a commission would be created to determine whether they posed a health risk. A member of Miraflores' Voluntary Feline Defense Group called the announcement an overreaction, saying the cats get constant veterinarian attention. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Lita Velasquez feeds cats in the central park of Lima's upscale seaside Miraflores district, in Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2012. About 120 felines populate the park. Some of the cats descended from a pair municipal authorities introduced in the late 1990s to control a rat infestation. After a local TV feature this week focused attention on the cat colony, a top official at Peru's environmental health agency announced a commission would be created to determine whether they posed a health risk. A member of Miraflores' Voluntary Feline Defense Group called the announcement an overreaction, saying the cats get constant veterinarian attention. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — It's the cat's meow, a corner of the central park of Lima's upscale seaside Miraflores district.

About 120 felines populate the sidewalks and grass, lounge in the trees and shelter behind the grates of at the Church of the Miraculous Virgin, where they are fed by devoted volunteers.

Tourists pose for pictures with the cats, which are generally friendly and accept the caresses of strangers.

But they are not universally adored. Local resident Mariano Lindley said the smell of cat urine and excrement can be overwhelming. "When they proliferate, they spread disease," he said.

Every once in awhile, unknown cat-haters poison their food, killing a few. And every September, when a cat-eating festival is held south of Lima in the town of Canete, volunteers pull guard duty to ensure they don't become someone's lunch.

"Unfortunately, we are in Peru, a place where I think we could use a little more civilization and humanity," said Natalie Sanchez, a member of Miraflores' Voluntary Feline Defense Group.

The 12-member group banded together in 2000 to care for the cats and put some up for adoption. Members gather donations to sterilize the animals and treat them for parasites.

Some of the cats descend from a pair municipal authorities introduced in the late 1990s to control a rat infestation. Others were abandoned by people tired of caring for them.

After a local TV feature this week focused attention on the cat colony, a top official at Peru's environmental health agency, Micaela Talavera, announced a commission would be created to determine whether they posed a health risk.

Sanchez called the announcement an overreaction, saying the cats get constant veterinarian attention.

"The cats of Miraflores' park are part of Miraflores. They are a Miraflores tradition," she said. "They've already been living there for 15 years. You can't call them a scourge or a plague."

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 164786306