A homeless cat that took up residence at our Fairgreen Hostel has led to daily doses of humanity and empathy for the men
there, according to our Fairgreen Hostel Manager, Donna O’Neill.
Seven years ago, a stray cat arrived into our garden area at the back of the hostel. We ignored him for a few days thinking he was just staying for a while and moving on.
We quickly discovered he was actually a she when we heard the cries of newborn kittens coming from the side of the building. We left a blanket out for her and some scraps of food, again assuming the stay was a temporary measure to have the kittens.
As the days went by, the residents started to show more of an interest in her and began feeding her, making sure she had fresh water, food and warmth. Within weeks, the kittens were playing in
the garden and the men were taking great pleasure from watching and playing with them. While staff found new homes for the kittens, still the cat remained.
Today, we have five healthy homeless cats that have made their way to the Fairgreen, a mix of another litter of fully grown kittens and other strays that came to us and never left.
Through the kind help of the Galway Cat Rescue (GCR), we have the cats neutered and vaccinated. We purchase cat food for them but if the staff ever forget to buy any, the men do from their own money. If one of the cats looks unwell, the men ask for a vet and we contact the GCR who come to check them out.
The men often show more concern for the welfare of the cats then they do for themselves. Over the years, we have seen the cats give reasons for people with depression to get out of bed, to make sure the cats are fed and okay. We have seen people who are unresponsive and withdrawn, open up and talk to staff about the cats. Men who have lost everything and everyone in their lives can give concern, affection and attention to these animals.
These cats have shown the men the simple but powerful lesson of empathy and love.
The men took it upon themselves to build houses for the cats to make sure they are safe and warm. These houses range from a two-story cat apartment to several smaller houses around the garden.
The one drawback for the cats that live with us is that they are slightly obese and spoilt. That’s what happens when 16 people are feeding and loving them every day.