TGLF talks to Lynn Stone – a lady on a mission. Lynn and her husband Ron, British expats, have set up a cat refuge in Miramont de Quercy, in the lovely department of Tarn-et-Garonne in Midi Pyrénės where they have a home.
Lynn, the President of Chats du Quercy is a qualified cat behaviourist which she says helps her to help the cats that come into the care of the association.
Lynn told us at that the family who are originally from the Midlands moved to France in 2001 with their two children then aged 5 and 8 years old. They found somewhere to live and started working with a local animal charity. Back in the UK they’d been involved with fundraising for animal charities and in France they decided to get involved with helping abandoned domesticated cats. So, they set up their own cat refuge finding the process relatively easy with no particular obstacles, ” We knew exactly what we wanted to do and we did it!” says Lynn.
The Chats du Quercy was started in 2004 and is run entirely by volunteers, and financed entirely by individual donations with some help in recognition of their work, from the French Fondation’s – 30 Millions d’Amis and Brigitte Bardot who campaigns tirelessly for animals in need in France. The refuge has 43 volunteers, half of whom help directly at the Rescue Centre, others who help with fund-raising, neutering programmes, education programmes and administration. The volunteers are of various nationalities and a multitude of backgrounds too – French, British, Italian, German and Dutch!
Lynn trained to become a cat behaviourist so that she could offer behavioural consultations and advice for cats and their owners. She says that cat behaviour problems if not resolved often lead to rehoming, relegation outside the home, abandonment, or euthanasia and have a huge impact on feline-human relationships. Knowing how to deal with such problems not only helps the Chats du Quercy associationto keep cats that would otherwise flood an already overloaded system with more cats for rehoming and to place the cats in the best possible home to suit both cat and new owner. It ensures that cats placed through Chats du Quercy have a complete service, from the initial visit and for the continued happy and healthy life of the cat.
Chats du Quercy has an excellent adoption rate – an average of four cats per week are rehomed and seldom if ever returned – over the years Lynn, Ron and the volunteers have rehomed more than 1000 cats. Most of the adoptions are to French nationals and as far as Lynn knows, Chats du Quercy is unique in France. It is a small Rescue Centre and the cats are housed in the best possible conditions with volunteers tending to their every need at least four times a day. Lynn considers that this human contact is essential and many new owners comment on how at ease Chats du Quercy cats are the instant they arrive in their new homes. The hard work that goes into caring for the cats means that Chats du Quercy has an excellent reputation and good rapport with the veterinary services and many of the people who adopt from them pass the word on. In fact so successful are they that several of the cat adoptees have become volunteers at the shelter themselves – so impresssed are they with how the group works.
Lynn says “It is not rocket science! Just hard work and determination go into finding our cats the right home and as quickly as possible, because we are also aware that whatever we can do, it can never replace a cat’s own home”.
Chats du Quercy hold various functions to raise funds and you can find out more from their website.
For more information, to adopt a cat in France and membership details see the chatsduquercy.fr website.