The French are renowned for eating more types of animals than many other nationalities – all the usuals plus snails, frogs and horses. However, France is also hailed by many as a nation of animal lovers. Everyone who has been to France has surely seen elderly ladies carrying around their cosseted miniature poodles or Chihuahuas. And France now has more pets than people. A recent survey has put the number of pets at around 63 million. The most popular pets are fish, mainly goldfish (I don’t think our carp count), closely followed by cats and dogs.
But just because people keep animals, that doesn’t necessarily make them animal lovers. Three years ago Chris brought home four tiny kittens he came across in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere. We got milk powder from the vet and bottle fed them day and night until they could be weaned. The three males wandered away in time, but Treacle has stayed with us.
And now we have another four dumped kittens. Caiti came across them on one of her evening bike rides, again in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere. They were friendly, used to people and came when she called them, so they weren’t feral cats. They’d been dropped out of a car too. So now we have Gigi, Voltaire, Smith and Wesson living with us.
Cat dumping is a big problem in rural France. There’s a reluctance to have cats neutered – it is quite pricey for a female – so unwanted litters are born all the time. And there’s only so many cats you can cope with at one time. We have the space with our 75 acres to take on these foundlings as well as our three adult cats, but that’s enough now. Any more we come across will have to go to an animal home.
So we have six babies at Les Fragnes at present – the four kittens, Julie the baby guinea pig and Bertie the baby llama. A baby alpaca will probably join them in a couple of months’ time (we think Mellie’s pregnant). We’ll have to wait and see!