Snapshot of San Juan: Cat City

by Gray Cargill on February 26, 2010

cat on beach

Old San Juan is filled with cats.  Not to the point where you’re tripping over them or anything, but enough that it’s noticeable.  I’m sure some are pets, but many are feral cats.  Some residents think they’re a nuisance, while others think they’re part of San Juan culture and welcome them.  There’s even an organization of volunteers called Save a Gato that monitors and feeds the colony of cats, implementing a “trap-neuter-release” program and trying to get kittens who can still be socialized adopted.

One of the things I love most about solo travel is being able to indulge in my love for photography.  And among my favorite subjects for photography are  animals (cats, dogs, squirrels, iguanas, farm animals, you name it).  Once I see an animal I want to photograph, I tend to stalk it, snapping dozens of pictures. But the cats I ran into in Old San Juan were generally out prowling after dark, when I didn’t have my camera, or they would dart under parked cars when I started to draw close.

I took the above picture from the Paseo de la Princessa, a lovely waterfront walking path beneath the city walls where I have heard the cats tend to hang out (though I only saw this one that day).  I snuck up behind this little guy when he wasn’t looking, which is, I’m sure, the only reason I was able to get it without him running off.

It’s not the best animal photo I took in San Juan by a long shot, but there is something I really like about it: That solitary cat just sitting there, looking kind of sleepy and staring off toward the water, captures my imagination.  Is he a beach bum kitty, getting some sand between his toes on a lazy afternoon, maybe thinking about going fishing?  Did he just wake up after a long night of carousing?  Is he a solo traveler, like me, pondering what corner of the city he wants to explore next?

SoloFriendly March 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Nice photos, Sophie! Cats are the best, no matter where they live.

Sophie March 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Or maybe it's a cat chick – lazily waiting for the tide to bring in a lovely fish 🙂

I love photographing cats, too. They seem to always be so photogenic, don't they – here are some I met in Kuwait:

SoloFriendly March 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Cats can definitely be likened to solo travelers, for sure. There could be a cultural connection, who knows? There certainly is in Egypt. Cats are pretty useful animals, since they keep mouse and rat populations under control.

GRRRL TRAVELER March 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Sometimes, I think cats are one of the most curious animals, similar to solitary travelers. You seldom see them traveling with other cats. It's interesting that San Juan would have many cats vs. dogs. Morocco is another place where I saw only cats and they were everywhere…. I seldom saw dogs to the point where I wondered if there was some cultural connection to certain animals.

SoloFriendly February 27, 2010 at 2:58 am

Murph sounds like quite the swinging cat. I bet he has a lot of tales (or is that “tails”?) to tell. 🙂

Kelly February 27, 2010 at 2:24 am

Save a Gato! Love it–and love this photo. Our Murph would definitely be joining him and ordering a cerveza!

SoloFriendly February 27, 2010 at 1:51 am

Aww. Now it's going to drive me crazy wondering why they were so shy around me….celebrity kitties perhaps? Hiding from the paparazzi? 😉

SoloFriendly February 27, 2010 at 1:39 am

If my cat were still alive, she'd be more excited about all the pigeons in San Juan than the beach. 🙂

joanna_haugen February 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I saw a lot of cats in San Juan, and they were all very friendly. The guide that took us through the city said they have more protections than humans do, so no one tries to harm them or anything. That probably explains why they were easy to approach.

Gray February 27, 2010 at 2:02 am


Betsy February 26, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Stanley the cat is looking at the photo with me and wondering the same things you are. He also wonders why we don't take him to the beach more often. Or at all.

Kelly February 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Save a Gato! Love it–and love this photo. Our Murph would definitely be joining him and ordering a cerveza!

Kelly February 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Save a Gato! Love it–and love this photo. Our Murph would definitely be joining him and ordering a cerveza!

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