The Buen Retiro Park (Spanish: Parque del Buen Retiro) in Madrid is one of the largest parks (1.4km2) in the Spanish capital. Besides being full of sculptures, monuments and a beautiful lake in which several events are being held all year long; this park is the home of more than 400 cats.
Some of these cats have always lived there, while some have been abandoned by their humans. As there were several cat lovers feeding the cats on their own, the city asked them to organize themselves and an association was born at the beginning of 2008: AGAR (that stands for Retiro Cats’ Friends Association, Spanish: Asociación de Amigos de los Gatos del Retiro).
The association is a non-profit one and composed entirely by volunteers. For 7 and a half years, they have been taking care of the cats the best way that they can. They trap, neuter and release them (TNR), they vaccinate them and give them medical attention when needed, they feed them, take care of the litters and find home to the adoptable ones.
Each member does what they can. Some of them take some of the cats temporarily while they find their forever homes, some of them are the ones feeding them in the park or taking them to the vet, some update the web page, some organize adoptions or events and some of them make crafts to sale in occasional markets.
The AGAR is a very active association that really cares for the welfare of The Buen Retiro Park’s cats. Since they are self-financed, they have to come up with different projects that help them get funds to support the cats. The latest project is a collaboration between the association and the Crowfunding platform, Verkami: they decided to create a 100-page full color picture book of the cats.
The goal of this project besides getting some funding is to spread the word regarding the situation of the park’s cats. They want to make them visible while making a tribute to them.
For making this book possible they had a volunteer hanging out for two months in the park, getting closer to the feral cats and gaining their trust. This way he was able to photograph them in their most natural self.
They promoted the book for weeks and organized some sort of presale that ended on October 13th. People were able to either donate just to help or buy the book in advance. Their goal was to collect €1,400 but they were able to collect up to €2,119.
With the money collected, besides printing the books, sending them to the buyers and paying the correspondent taxes; they will buy more food and cans for the cats, give them medical care and continue with the TNR campaigns.
They believe this book is a good present not only for cat lovers, but also for those who have never spent time with a cat because they will be able to have a closer look at a cat’s environment. And the best reward for their initiative according to them, is to see those cats they love so much traveling to wherever the book will end.