Our family of six arrived at the Tamarjin late afternoon on 22nd of December 2013 and within 5 minutes, a cute little cat minus a tail (a Manx) greeted us outside our family’s adjoining rooms. My mom immediately warned us not to feed it or give it attention because it would then depend on us, as well as she knew we would get attached only to have to leave in a week, never to see it again. However, unable to follow her warning, we did feed and spend time with her throughout our vacation.

She had an amazing ability to know when we were up in the morning, or when we arrived home after dinner or a night enjoying the entertainment at the Divi next door. Within just a few minutes of leaving our room to enjoy the amazing beach, there she was, crying like a baby lamb for our attention. Her afternoon routine included a nap in the shade by the pool. My mom nicknamed her Charmer, because it was apparent that she survived outside by her ability to make friends with the guests at the resort.

On the day we were leaving for the airport, we noticed a woman carrying her down the path towards her room.  We were happy to see that there were others taking care of her, but heartbroken to have to leave her behind. Tears were shed by most of the family when we had to leave this special girl behind. Even though she lived in the most beautiful possible place, there is nothing like having a home of one’s own, and getting the medical care that a stray cat never receives.

At the airport, we spoke with a customs officer about our little friend, and he explained how easy it would have been for us to bring her home. He told us that there are a few organizations in Aruba that help with the process, so the next day, my sister, Catherine and I made contact with ARF-Aruba, who promised to visit the Tamarjin within a few days to try and capture her. The volunteer who brought her to the Vet in Aruba named her Calico, and we were able to call the vet’s office every day to check on her. We did not tell her that her name was Nel…

The volunteers from ARF-Aruba were great! While our cat was treated at the vet, Kathy Andreotolla, another volunteer began the search to find a transporter to bring her to an airport close to our home. We live in Rhode Island and were willing to drive to Boston, Hartford or Providence whenever someone was available. However on the same day that we found out that we had a transporter, my sister had booked a flight and another stay at the Tamarjin to bring Nel home.

Kathy delivered Nel to the Tamarjin and she spent five days with Catherine and her friend, Brianna, before the trip back to the United States. Everything necessary was handled by ARF-Aruba, including providing the health certificate from the vet, leash and harness and carrier. Since there is no rabies in Aruba, there was no quarantine period at all making it easy for Nel to come directly home. Today, Nel shares her time in two homes, Catherine’s college home with five female students, and our home with three golden retrievers, and four other cats. Surprisingly, Nel has acclimated to both homes and is doing great! Her favorite activities are  sleeping in a sunny window and rolling around on the bed, trying to catch her back legs.

It is important for people to know that dogs and cats can be adopted and brought home with tourists with help from ARF-Aruba. Many airlines will allow small cats and dogs weighing less than 10 pounds with the carrier included to fly in the cabin under the seat in front of the person transporting. Depending on the airline, the fee ranges from around $95 to $125 for cabin transport. For larger dogs that weigh more than the weight limit, there are a few airlines that allow them to travel in cargo. Anyone interested could check their airline website for further information.

Besides ARF-Aruba, there is another volunteer group called ARA, Animal Rights Aruba, that also helps both on the island, as well as assisting those interested in helping animals. Both ARF-Aruba and ARA are wonderful groups and promote the well being of animals. There are many ways that caring people can help.

In April, Catherine, my mom and I are returning to the Divi and will be in touch with ARF-Aruba again. We are hoping to transport three animals back to the states.

Thanks for writing about this on the blog. I am hoping that more animals will find homes as a result.

– Marisa, Rhode Island