Owning a pet as a resident in Mérida is more than normal, it’s essential. You’ll notice that most Mexican families have a cat or dog or perhaps a number of both. And whether you’re an animal lover or not, you’re sure to be charmed by the number of street animals that need a loving and safe home here. This is the Cat Lover’s Guide for Mérida Mexico you must read!
I have always been a cat lover! Since moving to Merida 5 years ago I have adopted 3 gorgeous little kittens. With each cat I have had different adoption and veterinary experiences. This article aims to share some ideas and tips on how to ensure that you and your cats are happy in Mérida .
Cats are Everywhere in Mérida
Pets are part of the family in Mexico. However, they can be treated quite differently than what you might be used to. Cats (and dogs) often sleep outside. Even cats which have owners happily explore the streets and get into fights with neighbors’ cats. Cats with a home are identifiable by their collars or simply because they are well fed.
In general in Mérida, street cats are quite friendly. While I often find myself wanting to approach a beautiful and harmless looking kitty, we strongly encourage you not to feed them.
- Surprisingly, the cat could belong to someone. This isn’t always clear because the cat might be spending most of its time outside. But it could still have a family. If you give it food, you’re luring it away from its family. Only if you are positive that the cat does not belong to someone should you consider feeding it.
- Sadly, the cat could have any number of diseases and/or parasites which means it’s quite risky to engage with it.
- If you do not live in Mérida permanently, it’s not fair for the cat to come to depend on you. Once you are gone, your street cat might struggle to fend for itself.
- Finally, the cat could become attached to you and you might suddenly find that you are feeding the cat, her babies and more…
If you do decide to approach a stray cat, make sure to take it to a vet for a check-up as soon as you can to determine its state of health. Read on to find more valuable information in this cat lover’s guide for Mérida Mexico.
Street Rescue vs. Formal Adoption
Taking in Stray Cats
There are a number of ways to adopt a cat in Mérida. The first is finding a cat or a kitten on the street in need of some love and care. I know many people who have done this. It’s always an extremely rewarding experience to take in a stray cat knowing that you’re providing it with a much better way of life.
Here are a couple of pointers if you find yourself in this position:
- Firstly, a positive – this cat is likely to be scared but will eventually have an extremely strong bond with you. If they didn’t have much time with their mother then they will quickly look for another one and that’s you.
- They could have come from anywhere. The vet quickly told us that our street babies could have any number of hereditary diseases because the parents could have been brother and sister.
- You will need to pay for all vaccinations and neutering. This can be expensive in Mérida. It also takes time and dedication in order to be able to care for your cat as he/she recovers from their operation.
- Along with not knowing exactly where your cat has come from, they might have allergies or special dietary requirements. Not surprisingly, this increases the cost of care. Our male baby needs special food (stay clear of Whiskas PLEASE!). This was not something we anticipated.
A More Formal Adoption
Adopting your cat from an institution or shelter is the second way to bring a little fur baby into your life in Mérida. This can be from a shelter or somewhere like Petco, Mexico’s biggest pet supply chain.
So what are the differences between a more “formal” adoption and taking in a cat off the street?
- We adopted a little kitten from Petco. He was fully spayed and vaccinated which saved us a lot of veterinary visits and costs.
- Technically not a difference BUT just because your cat came from a shelter, it doesn’t mean he/she wasn’t a street cat before. At Petco we received a little booklet with our cat’s story. We know he was found on the street. Therefore, the same cautions apply; hereditary illnesses are very likely. This means they were probably separated from their mother while very young.
- If you adopt your cat from a shelter, you know that they have been taken care of recently. Notably, they are unlikely to have diseases or parasites.
- Having been in a “window” in Petco or visited by people at a shelter, your cat is more likely used to human contact.
An In-Between Approach
Other common ways to adopt a cat, especially amongst foreigners in Mérida, are:
- Knowing someone who already has cats OR
- Finding someone advertising animals in the many Facebook groups
Somewhere in the middle of taking a cat off the street and adopting from a shelter, this is a common way to become a cat owner in Mérida. Many people post asking if anyone has any cats or dogs up for adoption. The response is generally positive with lots of other members of the group offering advice. Keep an eye on the different groups to see when people mention cats for adoption.
Keeping Your Cat Safe
First and foremost, if you want to ensure the safety of your cat, don’t allow them to roam further than your backyard.
Why? Well, aside from the problem of other, more aggressive cats in the area, many walls have broken glass or wire on top.
This is a) an eye-sore and b) a danger for little paws. Also, other people in your neighborhood might not take very kindly to your adventurous cat snooping around.
It’s horribly sad but many will put poison on the ground in their gardens to stop cats and other animals venturing onto their property. It’s a terrible ordeal for any cat to go through. Of course, it will be distressing for you too.
Vaccinate and spay your cat as soon as you can. Stray cats could have any number of diseases or parasites; avoid this for your cat at all costs. If your cat comes from the street, take them to a vet for a check-up as soon as you can.
Give your cat a collar.
While I can’t confirm or deny this, there have been stories about stray cats being picked up by authorities and if someone doesn’t claim the cat, they are euthanized. We’re not trying to scare anyone but to avoid this happening at all costs, make sure it’s really clear that your cat has an owner. If they should get out, this will stop anyone mistaking your cat for a street cat. This cat lover’s guide for Mérida Mexico is to help both you and your cat feel safe, comfortable and secure as much as possible.
Bringing Your Cat to Mérida
Moving to Mexico with your cats is not a complicated process. Firstly, make sure to bring any documentation you have. The good news is you do not need a health certificate for your cat to enter the country.
Secondly, prepare for your cat to receive an inspection when you arrive. As long as all is in order, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you have any concerns about bringing your cat to Mexico, speak to your vet before leaving for some advice.
There’s no questioning it, the heat of Mérida affects everyone and everything. If you are out of the house on a daily basis, remember to keep things cool for your fur babies. Mérida houses can heat up very quickly. During the rainy season, it becomes quite humid and moist. The heavy rain combined with the intense sun rays can really warm things up inside.
You will notice that the weather is changing when your cats’ behavior changes. Whichever you notice first, they are directly linked. During the hot months of April-June, cats are more likely to be found lying spread out on the cold floor instead of curled up with you on the sofa. While I love me some cat snuggles, I’ve come to accept that this is just not feasible when temperatures are above 35C.
Something else you might notice is the dust because there’s a lot of construction in Mérida. Dust in the air is something that can greatly impact on your cat’s health. One of our little ones has a bit of an allergy and is often sneezing. Keep an eye on your cat and speak to a vet if you’re concerned.
Vets in Mérida
Since becoming a cat mom to my 3 babies, I’ve visited a number of vets and had a variety of experiences. Our best advice is to find a vet or a vet’s surgery location that you feel comfortable with. Then stick with them. Also, listen to your friends’ advice. If they recommend a vet, go with it but don’t worry if you don’t have the same experience.
There is not one veterinary surgery here in Mérida that we would recommend in particular. We believe that everyone’s experiences with a vet are different. Just one of the reasons we wanted to share tips in this cat lover’s guide for Mérida Mexico.
Here are some things to think about, as with any veterinary surgery around the world:
- Does your vet speak English? If they do and they are happy to talk to you in English then we say stick with them. Describing your pet’s health problems can be difficult and stressful in another language. You need to feel comfortable with communication.
- Make sure to take all of your cat’s information with you each time you go. If you’ve adopted a cat here in Mérida, you should have a little booklet with vaccine info. Take this every time!
- Decide what works best for you. When we first took in our street cats, we knew a great English-speaking vet who could come to our house. Note, a vet coming to your house is very common here in Mérida. This worked perfectly during the period when my partner and I were both working full-time office hours. The vet came after 6pm which was perfect for our schedules. With the pandemic, many changes affected our lives. Now, we prefer to take our cat with us to a local vet. They have very flexible appointment times and a 24-hour emergency WhatsApp number.
- Expect to pay around $300-$600 for a visit to the vet. Any additional services such as tests or medication will cost extra. Something that is very different is that your vet might give you a list of medication but then tell you they don’t supply it. I had never experienced this before coming to Mérida. Expect to have to pop into a pharmacy or another veterinary surgery to find what your cat needs.
- And lastly, find someone who you feel has a bond with your cat. We recently tried a different vet as it was a bit of an emergency. The experience was horrible. When you find a vet that your cat feels comfortable with, again stick with them.
Extra Tips for a Happy Mérida Cat
- Sign up at Petco! I get 50 pesos off each time I go and buy food or litter which makes a difference over time.
- Petco also has a good refillable litter system which we love. Spend less by reusing your litter tubs and it helps to use less plastic.
- Do not give your cat tap water. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t give it to your cat.
- Try not to compare your cat experiences with those you’ve had in another country. Remember to keep your cats within your house or your garden to protect them. This also allows you to keep an eye on potential humidity or dust related allergies.
- Take your time with adopting a new cat, especially if you already have one or more. Cats can be extremely territorial here (more than I’d ever seen in other countries). If you want happy cats who get along, take your time with the settling-in period.
With that said, we hope you and your cat can be happy and settled in beautiful Mérida. Please let us know in the comments if you have more comments or tips for taking care of cats, we’d love to hear them! As you can tell, we want to help you with our Cat Lover’s Guide for Mérida Mexico.