San Felipe, Casco Antiguo
Panama City, Panama
At the foot of Casco Viejo is a beautiful pocket park called “Baluarte de las Mojas” (bastion of the nuns), which not only has a fountain, a perfect view of downtown Panama, and benches utilized by visitors and locals alike, it is home turf to six or eight cats who can count on being regularly fed and pampered.
The little guy in the above picture has acquired–for obvious reasons–the nickname “El Feo” (the Ugly). Once, though, he was regularly called “El Feo el Gatito Malo,” roughly, the Ugly Bad Cat,” who was the terror of all the little cats, and moreover, one didn’t dare approach him. In short, he was one unsocial animal.
Then one day, to his surprise, El Feo was scooped up–not without some risk–by a lovely and cat-loving resident of Casco Viejo, and whisked off for a minor operation that altered his life in more ways than one.
To the amazement of all, El Feo became Mr. Congeniality. Maybe there wasn’t much that could be done about his looks, but his personality underwent a dramatic, total transformation. Today he is a happy presence at feeding time, and when the other cats depart for the shade of nearby Club Union, he hangs around under the table of Gabriella, one of the regular vendors who sell handmade jewelry and other crafts.
Those who care for cats are part of the microcosm of the Casco, with more to be said in another blog about a handful of residents who spearhead a small neutering program. The straight cut on El Feo’s right ear denotes that an animal, dog or cat, has been neutered.