Cuba Cats – Havana (and a few dogs, too!)

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Cuba Cats!

You know it’s impossible for me to visit a new place and NOT look for the furry residents. See Cats of Greece and Travel is for the Dogs and Cats. To me, the cats and dogs can tell a better story about a place than some stuffy old buildings. They live there and know the area well. Most are happy to pose for a few shots in return for a morsel of food from my plate or a scratch behind the ears.

On our recent trip to Havana, Cuba we found many willing subjects to continue our research – and learned a great deal about how Cuba treats their strays. Our Cats of Cuba post also includes a few dogs, too. They were very eager to share their stories and asked for nothing more than a kind word in return.

A Day in the Life of Cuba Cats

This scruffy grand dame was my Grizabella – The Glamour Cat. Every morning she appeared at the doorway of our hotel restaurant and waited patiently. I never saw anyone feed her, but when we returned in the afternoons, she was still at her accustomed spot. Always happy for a scratch behind the ears. Near the end of stay, I needed to go to the front desk late in the evening. As they were turning off lights in the restaurant, I watched her leave the doorway and head to the darkened area in the back where the computer desks were located. A few minutes later I found her curled up happily on top of one of the warm electrical blocks connected to the computers. She had a home at the El Presidente Hotel!

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Every child needs a pet and every pet needs a child. This cheeky kitty has all of the children he could possibly want at the La Casa del Ninos after school program in Havana. Making himself purrfectly at home on top of the colorful drawings the children made, this Cuban kitty didn’t mind the singing, laughing and salsa dancing going on all around him. I think he liked all the fun going on!

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Not all of the cats I was able to photograph were actually alive. This unlucky fella adorns Ernest Hemingway’s desk in his home just outside of Havana. He must have been quite the specimen in the days when Papa was more fond of shooting wildlife than penning bestsellers.

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Every day in the Plaza de Armas square in Old Town Havana, booksellers set up their wares for tourists to peruse at their leisure. The cats also enjoy a quiet afternoon of relaxing as the customers browse. This persistent little one was tossed off the seat no fewer than three times (that I witnessed), but climbed right back each time and was asleep in minutes. Now if we all could only be that calm!

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There are quite a few stray dogs on the streets of Cuba and the historic Old Town has found a unique way to ensure their care. “Licensed” dogs are identified with a badge around their neck. On the paper is the dog’s name, his/her picture, and the office or ministry responsible for care and feeding. This one’s name was Canelita and belonged to the Office of History. It was obviously with great pride that these dogs wore their special badges.

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It took everything I had not to pack this sweet face up in my suitcase…

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I hope you’ve enjoyed just a few of Cuba’s furry finest! Who was YOUR favorite?

 

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About the author

Lisa Chavis

Lisa is a traveler, photographer and pharmacist. She and her partner Cheryl MacDonald enjoy sharing inspiration and good health with fellow travelers!

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  • Like you, I’m also always on the look out for cats and dogs during our travels, partly because I miss our dog when we travel even though I know he’s happily ensconced with dog people friends or family members who he loves. I can pantomime “May I pet your dog?” in many languages. We were just in Turkey and Israel. In Istanbul, the stray dogs are also tagged to show they’ve been examined (and hopefully neutered) by a veterinarian. None of them looked scraggly, underfed or diseased. The numerous stray cats we encountered throughout Turkey also looked in very good shape. Our guide explained that cats were Mohammed’s favorite pet, so they are well looked after by the locals.

  • What a fun post! I can’t decide if I like cats more for their independent aloofness or dogs for their devotion but I can see you’re a real animal lover too. I like the idea of identifying and tagging the street dogs so that people know they’re being cared for. It’s always sad to see thin, hungry and sick animals on the streets…

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