This is an article about Kotor Kitties. They have a nice website which tells you how they started. How they grew into an international organisation. The start is always interesting and vitally important. What motivated April Lynn King, a volunteer, board member and a co-founder of Kotor Kitties? She lives in Seattle which, I believe, is the organisational hub of this animal welfare charity.
Update a few days after publication: In an email to me, April wanted to make it clear that she is one part of the team. She says that when the organisation started, she was about to retire and therefore had the time to devote to coordinating the programme but that “we quickly went from 3 to 5 founders, and started inviting every tourist who contacted us to help to join in. Within a few months we had a solid ‘steering committee’ of a dozen or so; all but one are still with us! I felt I needed to add this section and I promised to do it.
She must have a very good heart and I am always mightily impressed by women like April. They can’t just watch vulnerable stray cats trying to survive. They have to do something and she did; something very big and very successful. It can’t have been easy. That’s why I’m so impressed. She must have pushed through the barriers to find a way to help the vulnerable, breeding, unneutered cats of Montenegro, a small country adjacent to the Adriatic Sea of around 600,000 citizens.
Kotor Kitties helps Kotor and other communities throughout Montenegro humanely reduce the overpopulation of community cats through spaying and neutering.
Luka in Kotor – the beginning
April Lynn King was visiting Kotor, a charming-looking town tucked into a protected cove on the Adriatic coast. She was a tourist and on that fateful day it was raining. She was having a coffee on her covered veranda to an Airbnb rental. It is there that she met Luka; a skinny, flea-infested tabby-and-white male cat. I guess he was much like many of the other Montenegro community cats.
He wasn’t in good shape and he was starving. April responded by feeding him. This was the very beginning, in Kotor, of Kotor Kitties.
At that moment in time April decided to help the street cats in the old town of Kotor. She was figuring out right then and there how to raise funds and resources to help them. She quickly learned that there was no spaying or neutering of cats in Montenegro. This is exactly why there were so many of them.
Mediterranean country’s stray cats
And, to be honest, it’s the same story in many countries adjacent to the Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus come to mind for instance and Israel. It’s remarkable that the citizens of these countries allow the stray community cats to breed unchecked. Although in some countries like Greece, they are used to charm the tourists but, in the off-season, many are poisoned by the citizens of Greece. It’s a sad story.
To return to Montenegro. April quite quickly found a kindred spirit in Danijela who runs a shop in which there are several cats as I understand it. Danijela loaned April a cat carrier so that she could take Luka to a vet to be neutered. She was delighted.
Her plan was to stay in Kotor for a couple of days. She had now given over that time to organising a group to undertake spaying and neutering in the area.
And with great good fortune, April’s Airbnb host also liked cats and was aware of the cat problem in Montenegro. The host actually knew of Luka and was willing to take him to a family vet neutering. In April’s words, she had met two sisters in her project to spay and neuter the cats of Montenegro. The year was 2018.
It was the beginning of Kotor Kitties which in her words is now: “The first on-going high quality, high volume spay-neuter (HQHVSN) program in Montenegro.”
She had to find some veterinarians to help. The veterinarians are obviously a key element of such a program and she was lucky to meet a couple of vets who were generous and concerned about the cats as well. The first was the family vet of the ladies she had met, her kindred spirits, and his name is Dr. Relja Četković. He agreed to spay/neuter the cats at a discount. Dr. Četković is well known in the area and he has a passion to help the community cats. Another kindred spirit.
It seems that although a lot of people in Montenegro are apathetic about the community cats there are still many who are not and want to do something to help.
And Dr. Četković was key to building Kotor Kitties. April says that, “Involving Relja in our bigger vision, and how to share it with the community, was what truly launched Kotor Kitties!”
From there April built a program to serve the needs of the cats of Montenegro. They created a planning committee of two bilingual Montenegrins and three Americans and then others joined along with British and Russian volunteers. A social media presence on Facebook helped to network and build the organisation.
In 2023 it is a partnership of three all-volunteer organisations. April is based in Seattle and she manages to run this organisation with the help of others. They’ve spayed and neutered 10,000 kitties in Montenegro. The non-profit is entirely volunteer run with no paid staff. These are wonderful people. They’ve actually done something to help the cats of Montenegro and what they’ve done is the best thing to do.
They stop them breeding because that’s the first step. To prevent more cats coming into a world where they are unwanted. All cats should be living in homes as domestic cats. If they are forced to live on the street, scraping a living, sometimes with the help of humans, it is barely acceptable and often totally unacceptable.
I also see this as an example of how TNR – which essentially is what it is – can work. A lot of people think that TNR doesn’t work. Wildlife conservationists don’t like it because you put cats back on the street but it does work as a first step in limiting stray cat numbers and ultimately reducing their numbers.
There is much more work to do April says. Although Kotor Kitties has its roots in Seattle, it is an international organisation. “Volunteers in the leadership group come from across the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Russia”.
It is described as “a partnership of an American nonprofit, a charity in the United Kingdom, and a Montenegrin NGO, that operate together under a Memorandum of Understanding.”.
Please help this organisation. Please remember them. Visit their website please which you can do so by clicking on this link. They need all the help people can give them obviously and my God, they deserve it.
There is one last point to make and it’s about Luka. April says that after he was neutered, he returned to his life hanging around the Airbnb rental apartment. He recovered from the operation nicely and gained some weight. He remained in the courtyard for several months. One day he didn’t reappear for his meal. And sadly, April finishes by saying, “He was never seen again”. That, for me is a sad moment but Luka started the journey of the building of a brilliant organisation to help many thousands of cats just like him.
Kotor kitties is a US non-profit 501 (c) (3) as at February 2019 and a registered charity as it may 2020 in England and Wales. It is the first Montenegrin NGO dedicated to spay-neuter and TNR for cats.
Some associated articles:
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.