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Cats on the Camino


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2010, 2015)
Camino Norte (2011)
Rue de la Plata (2018/9)
Hi all,

I wanted to get some feedback about a recent trend I have noticed the last few years, the increasing numbers of stray cats along the Camino. As I cat lover, I have some concerns at what appears to be a population boom of sickly and gaunt feral cats, in addition signs asking pilgrims to "NOT FEED THE CATS!" at restaurants and cafes. I imagine these signs are being put up by locals and restaurant owners who are frustrated by their presence which is a worrying development.

Furthermore I see pilgrims ignore these signs and feed begging cats things like bread and patatas fritas. While I am sure they are well-meaning, this is obviously not good for them and may be contributing to the problem. I've occasionally carried tuna to feed to the more sickly looking ones (away from restaurants) or near garbage bins, but other than that, I feel quite powerless and heartbroken when I see them. I have been a regular visitor to the Camino since 2010 and it seems the last two years have been worse than ever.

I would like to learn more about this issue and gather information and ideas from people in the hopes of finding ways I can help when I return to Spain in the fall. Please respond if:

1.You have any personal experience in Spain with vets or organisations that have humane solutions for overpopulation and stray cats (specifically) in Spain. I am looking for personal experiences or first hand knowledge, not something a google search can provide.
2. In the south of Spain, where a lot of pensioners live, there are programs that spay/neuter the feral cats and then re-release them. Does anyone know of similar situations in the north?
3. Have any veteran pilgrims or Spanish residents noticed a similar trend?
4. Any other ideas or thoughts you would like to share about the best way to help these little guys?

A request: Please do not share 'horror stories' or comment about Spain's reputation regarding animal welfare. Those comments will not be helpful and/or appropriate for the forum. Thank you.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'Portuguese,Frances,Norte,Salvador/primitivo,Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, VDLP spring19
CFE0A5AE-AAE2-48E1-AA8D-5E1108E68CF1.jpegHi @WalksInWinter
I really can’t answer any of q’s 1-4 but also have a love of animals and wondering where in particular you are seeing the feral cats.
I have walked quite a number of the camino routes in Spain and can only recall one ‘batch’ of what could be called ‘gaunt ‘ cats. That was whilst taking a break in the ‘square??’ In ANE; on the Camino De Madrid recently (27/3/18). Guessing it to be the mother cat ., she looked to be starving and I gave me the only morsel I had that was edible for a cat. BUT ., apart from these cats, the usual cats I’ve seen have been close by; or in the yards of farms and would definitely be ‘mousers’.. which is good.
I can’t add any more except to say that I have passed stray dogs on occasions but I haven’t found their numbers extraordinary either, (in Spain that is). Good luck with your aim.
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Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Been on a few Caminos, but honestly I cannot say I observed all that many cats, and the ones I did observe I could not determine if feral, stray or had owners. None ever appeared to me to be malnourished. I grew up in the country around many cats. Ours. Neighbors. Whatever. The cats I saw on the Camino remind me of those country cats.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2018)
Camino Francés (2020)
I saw a LOT of cats (feral and otherwise) on my Camino. Maybe I noticed them more than others because I made it a point to take pictures of them for a friend. I don't specifically recall any looking malnourished, but I did see quite a few begging off pilgrims as you described.

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