Two diverse communities, two thousand miles apart. One nestling atop a mountain in sunny Andalucía, the other just a few minutes’ walk from Oxford’s historic city centre. So much separates them and yet united in a common goal, they have been a beacon in the dark and troubled days that lead us towards Brexit.
For me, Callie is a Brexit refugee and a symbol of just what can be achieved when communities work together.
Callie’s Brexit adventure started in early August when we rescued her from an almost certain death abandoned on the streets of Gaucín at just two weeks old – see Callie, The Smallest Cat in the World. In the intervening weeks and with the help of Anne, her amazing human foster mother, our feisty little Callie Cat has thrived – growing from a tiny scrap of fur with (to quote ADECA’s Linda) “gummy eyes and dirt-encrusted paws” to an independent, loving, sassy, adventurous and (not to mention beautiful) kitten.
The original plan was to find Callie a new home in the village but most Gaucín locals have already adopted as many stray cats and dogs as they can manage and many more feed feral cats in the street. But back in Oxford, Callie caught the imagination of my local Jericho community and within a couple of weeks, Emma – a philanthropic friend and neighbour – had begun a crowdfunding campaign Give Callie A Life In Oxford to raise the money needed to bring Callie back to the UK.
It was immediately apparent that Callie needed to be out of Spain by the Brexit deadline of 31st October or the door may have slammed shut in her face. With the help of Anne, Karen (another Gaucín friend) and vet Pablo we embarked on the path to legal travel: Callie was inoculated, micro-chipped and received her rabies shot. Her passport was issued, and she was declared free to travel after the 28th October.
We had just three days to get her back to the UK…
Travelling back from Europe’s most southerly point to the UK overland is a three-day road trip whether you drive up through Spain and France to Calais or take the long ferry ride from Santander to Portsmouth. Clearly this was cutting it too fine. Next we looked at flying her as cabin luggage, something that is possible between other mainland European countries, but the UK forbids animals to arrive into the country in this way and so the only option was to ship her as ‘cargo’. Karen stepped in and offered to take responsibility for seeing her safely delivered to Malaga Airport’s Pet Reception Centre.
Callie arrived in the UK late in the evening of the 29th October. By then of course we all knew that Brexit had been postponed but had we left the EU at 11 pm on the 31st October, she would have got in just under the wire! She is settling in well into her new home amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford, so far removed from her Andalucían homeland. There are so many experiences yet to come – British winters and local Tom Cats to name but two! Our local vet advises that orphans are notoriously rough players (our battered hands are testament to this) and although…
you can take the cat out of the street, it may be more difficult to take the street out of the cat!
Whilst Callie’s bravery helped her survive her rocky start in life, I suspect her fearlessness may end up costing us quite a bit in vet’s bills as I doubt she will ever be the first one to back down in a cat fight!
All of this could not have been possible without the generosity and kind support of Anne, Karen, Emma (Jericho Kitchen), Linda (ADECA), Lisa (El Ático) and Steph and ALL the wonderful people who donated to Callie’s Crowdfunding page in order to give this little mite a future. The campaign raised £837 through crowdfunding and a further 95 euros in cash donations which went a long way towards covering the costs to bring Callie to the UK.
From the bottom of our hearts a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped Callie on her journey to a new life in Oxford xxx