Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Got 1 min? From feral to federal: Palace cats guaranteed food and care furever

Cats are said to be connoisseurs of comfort and there may be no better example of this than the band of Mexico City felines that took up residence in an 18th-century palace, and sweet-meowed their way into free food and care in perpetuity.

Last week, by order of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the resident cats of Mexico City’s National Palace were named “living fixed assets,” the first animals in Mexico to receive the title. By definition, this means the government must provide them food and care for the rest of their lives.

“The cats are now a symbol of the National Palace,” said Adriana Castillo Román, general director of the National Palace and Cultural Heritage Conservancy, in an interview with the newspaper El Universal. 

Today, a total of 19 cats roam the grounds of the National Palace, the seat of the federal government and the residency of López Obrador. It is not clear when the cats first moved in.

Their names are Panza (tummy), Ruffino, Topacio (topaz), Yema (yolk), Nube (cloud), Leona (lioness), Ollin, Bowie, Balam, Coco (coconut), Roja (red), Bellof, Princesa (princess), Esponjoso (fluffy), Ikal, Monita (little cutie), Scar, Tigre (tiger) and Bombón (candy). 

The president and his team first took interest in the cats in 2018, seeing that they were living in unsanitary conditions.

In August 2023, veterinarians from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) sterilized, vaccinated and micro-chipped the cats. All 19 received an “ID card” including  name, approximate age and favorite place for a nap in the palace.

On several occasions, Mexico’s headline-making michis (a Spanish term of endearment for cats) have wandered into official ceremonies and events, even crashing the president’s daily morning press conference.

At the palace, the cats each have their own personal shelter with plenty of water, kibble and treats to go around. Their budget for their care comes directly from the Finance Ministry (SHCP).

“We are the first public institution where animals are part of the inventory… a living fixed asset of the Finance Ministry, in such a way that, even when we are no longer here … and the president is no longer the president, the kitties will be cared for,” Román said.

With reports from El Universal and Proceso

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