The Rescue and Feral Cats of Martha Kane

Martha Kane - photo copyright Darrin Zammit Lupi

Martha Kane - photo copyright Darrin Zammit Lupi

It's Tuesday October 5th 2010 and it's been a hot night in Malta. I arrived on Monday and I went out to dinner with Martha Kane and her partner Richard Vella in the evening. Martha runs Kitty Appeal, her cat rescue organization from her 14 room home in part of the old town of Sliema, Malta. She has been rescuing, feeding, trapping and neutering the feral cats of Malta for 40 years. Yes, you read that correctly - 40 years! Currently she has over 50 rescued cats directly in her charge at her home. The house is given over to the rescued cats. Martha and Richard fit in around the cats. And there is a tame pigeon and sparrow too. They all cohabit contentedly. And everything is nicely in order.

Before we had a splendid dinner by the waterfront, Martha and Richard had some work to do. You guessed. One of a number of feral cat colonies that Richard manages is on and around the building site of a large block of apartments.

Feral cat, Malta - part of a colony managed by Richard.
Healthy isn't he? Photo taken at night by street lamp.

Photo by Michael @ PoC.

One of the cats, a wily one, had somehow climbed to the seventh floor (she ended up on the 4th)! The apartments building is just a shell. Richard and Martha had already tried to trap him without success. Sympathetic people in the block opposite had reported seeing him on the fourth floor. So Monday evening Richard entered the block with a trap and some bait and tried again. We went back after dinner but no luck. On a previous occasion the cat had gone into the trap eaten the food and left the trap! Richard will return today at 4 am to check again.

Martha Kane and her partner Richard are involved in heroic work on a day to day 24/7 basis despite many obstacles.

Richard at home with "Speedy" (left) and "Cetta"
- they are best mates
. See the pic in the comments too.

Martha has a debilitating illness called fibromyalgia which is like having bad flu 24/7. It is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Richard works full-time in the insurance business. Despite this they mop up and patch up the feral cats of Malta with courage and dignity. There are others who do similar work. There is a network of about ten individuals. These people work entirely independently but are aware of each others activities. However, I think it fair to say that Martha Kane is the person in all of Malta who is known as the cat woman; the woman who truly helps feral cats in a totally altruistic way, which is imbued with lashings of unconditional love.

I am extremely impressed with Richard too. As I said he works full-time in the insurance industry. He is Maltese and speaks excellent English. He still finds time to feed, trap and rescue feral cats that are desperately in need of his assistance. This can mean working at some very unsociable hours such a 4 in the morning and worse. He drove me around at night after the dinner to show me a couple of his feral cat colonies. One was in a large deserted house in a posh district of Sliema. It is tough work feeding and caring for feral cats because you take responsibility for them but cannot control their lives. You are bound to experience some agonizing moments. In this case the large house that is a home to this colony is on a road that is dangerous to cats. One a number of occasions he has taken it upon himself to pick up cats killed by cars. This is heartbreaking work. He has asked the local authorities to put traffic calming structures on the road without success.

Martha is Irish, English and Maltese! She speaks perfect English of course but her Maltese is also perfect. She has masses of courage, determination and commitment. And helping the feral cats of Malta demands that.

I meet her and Richard at the house today. I met "Speedy", a remarkable purebred cat, rescued cat, who suffers from an inherited propensity to urinary tract disease, that lead to blockages in the urinary tract. She calls this cat, The Sex Change Cat! I have never heard of that before.

Speedy - photo by Michael @ PoC

She has cared for this little fellow for a long time. His condition was serious and recurring. The prognosis was to euthanise. This is not Martha's syle of doing rescue work. Eventually it was agreed that his penis and part of his urinary tract be removed and an opening created to allow the better passage of urine. Wow! He has lived long and prospered under the close and tender care of Martha Kane.

Between them Martha and Richard also manage 8 feral cat colonies! This is big and responsible work.

How long can this excellent work go on for? The supply of feral cats despite Martha and Richard's work is not drying up. Martha is not getting any younger and she fears that as her condition worsens and funds run out she may not be in a position to go on taking care of her beloved cats. Martha, though, is a fighter and will, I sense, never give up or stop as long as she has the strength.

I'll revisit this subject tomorrow. Today, I met a good percentage of the cats who live with her. I will be posting some of those photos soon. They have a good life, as you would expect. Here is one of a recently rescued cat - the frightened eyes:

Recently rescued feral cat at Martha's home/refuge - photo by Michael @ Poc.

Until next time from Malta...Malta incidentally is a small island with a long history just south of Italy bang in the middle of the Mediterranean sea.

Please consider giving a small PayPal donation to Kitty Appeal - thanks. Martha has a Facebook page (new window), please visit it.

Update January 6th 2011...

The abandoned villa featured in the video above that was the home of a feral cat colony managed by Richard is now being redeveloped. Their home has been destroyed. We are responsible for feral cats and the developers had a duty to deal with them humanely, I argue. Here is a picture of theb vill; before and after. They were not taken at exactly the same spot but you can see what is happening:

More pages on Martha Kane's Kitty Appeal:

Martha Kane's Kitty Appeal

Martha Kane Educating Children

Introducing Martha Kane's Cats

Beautiful Maltese Calico Kitten Needs a Loving Home

Michael Avatar

The Rescue and Feral Cats of Martha Kane to Feral cats

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The Rescue and Feral Cats of Martha Kane

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Dec 20, 2010 Seasons greetings to all at P.O.C

Hi Micheal and all the friends of Kittyappeal at P.O.C. Life is hectic here in Malta and there are no holidays for us with so many furry friends to cater for . With the cold weather upon us the cats are going through twice the amount of food (bless them) and we have now also inherited a couple of colonies from a man who is too sick to take care of them. This brings the number of mouths to feed up to a total which now exceeds 200 so i am hoping that many more people will see your wonderful video about our work and decide to help out , as you have dear Micheal. Richard and i would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New year filled with all the things you desire but most of all i wish you health . Please take care of all your animals and if you can, try and provide some food and warmth for the strays around your area. ''The more you give ,the more you shall receive'' I can vouch for that !!!! Take care all x.
PS.....I really do like that the happy music in the video.
Martha Kane

Dec 19, 2010 Video
by: Michael

Here is another little video I made on Martha Kane's work. You will see an overlap with the one on the page above but I just felt like doing a different treatment:

Martha likes the music....

Michael Avatar

Oct 29, 2010 Appreciation
by: Martha Kane

I really must say a big thank you to Sylvia for her donation towards KITTYAPPEAL which arrived a couple of days ago . Sylvia followed the story about my work with cats on POC and decided to place her trust in me by contributing towards the welfare of these beautiful creatures. Thank you dear Sylvia .The money you sent is greatly appreciated and will be put to good use i promise .There is so much i want to do for these little ones and if everyone helped , even in a little way maybe i could cross out a few more much needed items on my wish list like extending the outdoor cattery to make it more comfortable and warm this winter for the ever increasing number of cats in my care and also buy a few kennels for those that still live in colonies. I also want to thank Michael for coming to Malta because he has seen what i do first hand and therfore he can vouch for my work .

Oct 22, 2010 Cetta and Speedy
by: Michael

Martha sent me a really nice picture of Cetta (an orange and white cat with a bit is surplus weight!) a great cat and Speedy, the sex change cat. They love each other and it shows:

Michael Avatar

Oct 20, 2010 Appreciation
by: Martha Kane

Thank you so much Franco . I appreciate your offer and i gladly accept.I have sent you an e-mail with the name of the food i use and where to obtain it.If only more people would come forward and help my cats ,even in a small way i would then be able to have some ''stress free''days without having to worry where the next bag of food was going to come from. Thank you again Franco and keep on defending animals as you do.

Oct 19, 2010 Help
by: Franco Farrugia

Dear Martha,
First, thank you so much for the work you do.
Secondly, would you allow me the honour of helping you out a tiny bit by giving you a donation in the form of food? What kind of food would you prefer? Dry or tinned food? Even a brand would help enormously.

Looking forward to keeping my promise.


Oct 11, 2010 Rain
by: Michael

It sounds incredibly difficult to feed feral cat colonies when it is raining. I was very lucky to have had hot dry weather all the time that I was there.

I have added links to the three other pages so this page can act as an umbrella page.

Take care Martha and regards to Richard.

Michael Avatar

Oct 11, 2010 Rain Rain go away !!!!!
by: Martha Kane

Things have been a bit difficult at kittyappeal these last few days . It has pelted down with rain non stop for three days . Feeding all the homeless cats in my care is difficult enough in good weather but it becomes virtually impossible in the rain and mud. Richard and i have been going back to our feeding stations twice ,even three times in a day to replace the wet food with a new batch each time. We hate to see the food go to waste but it gets too wet for them to eat and we just can't let the cats go without their normal ration of food . After all , when you are a stray , good food is all you have to keep you going .Well that's all from kitty appeal today. Thank you all for your nice comments and i will be answering any e-mails i recieved just as soon i can . Bye for now .x.

Oct 09, 2010 Appreciation
by: Martha Kane

Thank you dear Michael for all your praise and for following us around at all hours while we performed our mission of love with these wonderful creatures . We really enjoyed having you here with us because you were able to witness first hand what we do and therfore
you can pass it on to your readers with more conviction . I am glad you enjoyed my maltese cooking (which is another one of my passions ), and you are welcome to come over and sample it anytime you want.

Oct 08, 2010 My Thanks
by: Michael

8th Oct 2010: I am back in the UK. I just want to publicly thank Martha and Richard for a really great time in Malta meeting the cats and shadowing both of you to see how you work. It was very generous of you to let me tag along.

And Martha cooks like a Michelin star chef so I ate damn well too! You can't get better. Thank you.

Michael Avatar

Oct 07, 2010 Appreciation
by: Martha Kane

I thank you Darlene. All this support helps me to find the strengh to go on doing this work . It's not always easy because of my health but i take each day as it comes and somehow i manage .

Oct 07, 2010 Full of admiration
by: Ruth

I am full of admiration for Martha and Richard and this story has really cheered me up in another day of an inbox full of stories of animal abuse and uncaring people.
At present our local Rescue Shelter needs every penny we can spare as they are struggling with over 300 precious lives in their care but as soon as it's humanly possible I will send a donation to help these wonderful and selfess people in their work.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Oct 06, 2010 I give you a lot of credit
by: darlene burrow

Wow!! That was a very great story you told. It really did touch my heart reading this wonderful story. I give you all a lot of credit on behalf of what you do for a living thank the good lord for people like you!

We need more people like you who all care so much about cats. I would love to have a job like you. I love animals so much too. I could if i would love to help you out but I live in WI though and I don't drive neither other wise I would help you guys out its great to hear that people do love and care so much about animals that they would do anything in the world to help them.

I know I am on earth to love and care for cats to currently. I have a pet cat named Milo. She is my entire world to me and I would do anything for her too.

I know you work very very hard its a lot of money and time spent with them but I think its all so worth it. This story told me how much you truly love and care for these beautiful cats. God bless you all and I do give you all the credit for what you do.

Oct 06, 2010 Re these Beauties

Bless you both Martha and Richard and all the others who help in this situation with these dear animals. We do our best here to help outdoor(ferals) cats. These little souls just want someone to care and treat them right. God bless you all

Oct 06, 2010 New Kitty
by: Martha Kane

Thank you Susie . She is beautiful isn't she, but then in my eyes ....they all are !!!

Oct 06, 2010 Superb stuff
by: Susie Bearder

and really interesting. Love the photo of new kitty!

Oct 06, 2010 Appreciation
by: Martha Kane

Thank you Dorothy. Your donation will be greatly appreciated and put to good use . We love all our cats dearly but the burden gets quite heavy sometimes so thanks again and a big thankyou also goes to Michael who travelled all the way to Malta to share our experiences with these wonderful creatures .

Oct 05, 2010 Feral cat heaven....
by: Dorothy

Thanks so much for sharing this story with us Michael. Small donation sent.

Martha Kane and her husband are an inspiration.



The Rescue and Feral Cats of Martha Kane — 2 Comments

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