Etna is a lucky cat, like so many male and female cats that have been rescued from the street with just a few weeks of life, the result of litters born uncontrollably in parks and gardens of cities or seasonal urbanizations in which their inhabitants, when leaving to their habitual residences, they leave their fellow cats to their free will, with the widespread -and false- belief that “cats always survive, they know how to find a life”. A cruel form of abandonment. Many die because they are not used to living outdoors and do not know how to find food and water so as not to end up dying of dehydration, or they are attacked by other cats that have already marked their territory and do not want intruders. The other aspect of this abandonment is that those who have not been sterilized procreate without control, forming new feline colonies in a short time that effectively seek life as best they can, learning by necessity to hunt, an innate instinct in felines.
However, sometimes Humans come into their lives who help them survive by leaving them water and food hidden in the hedges or undergrowth where they know they roam freely. Those Human Beings, with capital letters, women in general, are frowned upon. They are pointed out, recriminated and insulted, considering them “crazy cats”. But they are not crazy, they are people with great sensitivity who love animals and cannot bear to see them suffer. Because those furry ones suffer, and a lot, especially in the winter, not finding shelter and a safe place to sleep from the cold.
Fortunately, there are currently numerous volunteers and activists who come together to collaborate in the so-called catch, release and return aid programs (CER Method) that some municipalities have launched so that the cats and cats of these colonies can continue in freedom, already sterilized. The work is hard and requires a lot of patience and great dedication. Those who dedicate themselves to this generous and disinterested mission know it well.
Etna was the fruit of one of those uncontrolled litters from the street, in this case from a Guadalajara urbanization. She was found in some bushes one intensely hot July morning by a rescuer who was already alerted to the presence of a mother with her puppies in the area. No more was heard of that cat. Only Etna could be saved. Her two sisters were not so lucky. The two little ones died, it is not known if because of some poison or at the hands of an undesirable. Her little bodies were found by rescuers already lifeless moments after saving Etna from certain death.
Etna is a cat with tricolor long fur, “curious and determined”. She was barely a month and a half old and was transferred to a shelter. The volunteers tried to find a shelter for her but they were all full. Etna ended up at the house of María Tello, president of La Camada, a shelter in Guadalajara, who took her to her house, where four other older cats already lived, waiting to find another family for her. But he fell in love with her and eventually adopted her.
Her life, her new life, and her adventures are told by the kitten herself as a diary through Humana, María Tello herself, who gives voice to the protagonist of that story throughout 182 entertaining pages. Etna’s diary It is a solidarity novel destined to help the feline colonies. The funds raised from the sale of the book have already helped several of them through different associations: My Three Cute Catsfrom Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara); Miriam’s Colonyin Paterna (Valencia); The SOS Stray Cats, in Cadiz; Network of volunteers from the town of Alovera (Guadalajara); APAP La Camada, from GuadalajaraY Marconi Feline Coloniesfrom Madrid.
The novel narrates the arrival of Etna at Humana’s house, the fear of the unknown and, at the same time, the tranquility she felt when she saw herself safe; I find her with the other race companions, with whom she will have to share everything from that moment on. With “the grandmothers”, Alba and Clotilde, who keep their distance from her; with Isis, the lame cat who is terribly afraid of everything after being rescued from a car engine; but, above all, with Serafin, a huge cat already advanced in years, “with deep greenish eyes”, who protects her, becomes her teacher, and whom Etna immediately considers her “daddy”, allowing herself to be pampered by the. He is the one who tells her about the things that await her – the dreaded visits to the Veterinarian – and the new world where she is going to live from that moment on.
Throughout the book, details of this furry little girl are revealed, including how the idea of calling her Etna came about, which we are not going to reveal because readers will discover it in its pages. But, above all, the process that these adopted animals follow is explained, the risks they run by being born on the street and how they are going to adapt to those good people who care about them.
Etna’s diary It is a tender and emotional novel that reflects precisely that: the enormous, generous and priceless work carried out by the people who welcome these defenseless animals into their homes until they manage to find a home to stay in to be one of the family.
The idea of writing this novel arose, says its author, María Tello, when she decided to make “a stop along the way”, after having dedicated more than fifteen years of her life to activism, in an intense volunteer work that she carried out at the La Camada, from Guadalajara, of which she was its president. There, in front of more than 500 dogs and cats, she gave “everything”. “She was dedicated in body and soul. For me everything was secondary except caring for the animals because they were my responsibility”. After all those years, María decided to slow down a bit and “reinvent herself”, since, as she admits, she realized that she was “exhausted” and “hardly had time to do other things”. Among them, in addition to reading, writing, one of her passions. In 2019 it starts Etna’s diary and ends it in the midst of a pandemic. A year later he publishes it as self-publishing through the Círculo Rojo publishing house.
Finished the manuscript, its author wrote to Paco Catalan, painter and caricaturist who daily reflects in his vignettes the sad reality of abused and abandoned animals. María knew that Catalan is a great cat lover. Although she did not know him personally, she greatly admired his work. So she contacted him to see if she wanted to prolong the novel for him. “I thought of Paco Catalán because she was sure that he would know better than anyone to convey that feeling of welcome and love to animals, as he does through his wonderful vignettes,” says María. The cartoonist did not hesitate and responded immediately to Maria. As he himself explains in his prologue, “when you love a cat, you already love all the cats in the world” and you want to “protect them in a glass campaign so that nothing bad happens to them, but a very large bell that provide lots of space…” because “the cat is one of the symbols of freedom and wants open doors in and out”. Felines don’t like to be alone, “they want to have companions so as not to get bored, to have someone to play with, eat and sleep with and straighten their hair and fight and then return to friendship,” says Catalán in his text.
Nor did he have any problems with the illustrations, which are by Ireland Tambascio Waine (Eire), a Venezuelan illustrator who perfectly captured the moments lived by Etna through the photos that María sent her: her first day, terrified, at Humana’s house; her coupling in her new home with her cat brothers, and her new life with the “grandmothers” and with Serafin, her inseparable friend and her “daddy”.
María Tello regrets that the City Councils of most of the municipalities in Spain remain oblivious to the problem of feline colonies and their response is to prohibit feeding the animals and fine those who do. She asks that there be at least some help programs for capture and release (CER) and that they support the neighbors who want to carry out this task to sterilize them, vaccinate them, deworm them and release them back into the habitat in which they have already become accustomed to living. : the street. “It is the only solution to this problem: to control those colonies”, says María, who admires those cities of the Spanish geography or of other countries that already do so.
“Etna’s diary It is a dream that I wanted to fulfill and that I hope achieves the objective with which I wrote it: to help raise funds for these volunteer associations”, says María.
The adventures of Etna can be followed through the page eldiariodeetna.com and in the Store section of the web it is explained how to buy it. It costs 14 euros, destined entirely for cats in need.