More than 30 cats and 8 dogs live with monks at this one particular Pagoda, and they would love for you to visit and pet them (the cats and dogs, not the monks, you are not allowed to pet the monks).
These cats and dogs crave attention, they want you to stroke them, pick them up and give them a cuddle. You could have five cats and three dogs around you, all begging to be next in line for your attention. As an animal lover, who doesn’t want that?
All animals are unwanted and were brought to the monks to look after. An unexpected litter, high medical fees, or stray animals found in the street are just a few of the reasons people take cats and dogs to pagodas in Cambodia.
If you want the most heart-warming, natural animal encounter when you visit Cambodia, a visit to Siem Reap Pagoda Cats is a must!
When walking around pagodas and temples throughout Cambodia or Thailand, you will undoubtedly have seen cats and dogs roaming freely. Pagodas are a natural place for locals to take cats and dogs when they are unwanted, found as strays, or there is a medical condition that they cannot afford to pay.
What makes this particular pagoda so special, is that they are lovingly cared for by a cat crazy Belgian lady named Josette. Together with the monks, Josette feeds all the stray animals and does her best to treat them medically.
Siem Reap Pagoda Cats started six years ago when a newly retired Josette was travelling around Cambodia and Siem Reap. She visited a pagoda, met all the cats and it escalated from there. Within six months of setting up her Facebook Page, she had her first vet on board to spay a female which was carried out at Josette’s home. She often cares for cats recovering from operations at her house where she can keep an eye on their progress.
Josette has dedicated her life to helping our furry friends. To learn more about Josette, the work she carries out for these beloved animals and how you can help, visit the Siem Reap Pagoda Cats website.
Our visit to Siem Reap Pagoda Cats
We arrived a little before 8.30am and straight away kitties and dogs started to approach us. It was food time, and they were huuuuuuungry.
More cats began approaching, they were in and around our feet like cats do, we had to watch our step so we wouldn’t trip over them. Then the dogs wanted a piece of the action. Adorable, just adorable.
Josette arrived and immediately all her fur babies knew who she was. It was like watching the Pied Piper, and all cats and dogs ran over to her.
One of the Monks put some steamed rice and vegetables down, and Josette laid out bowls of dried food. All the animals congregated together eating from the same bowls. No arguing, all sharing, it was as if they all knew they were each other’s only family.
Fresh water is provided daily, this is extremely important for kittens to minimise diarrhoea. You cannot drink the tap water in Cambodia.
There are a few vets who help; a Khmer vet who spays and neuters, Dr Trish is a surgeon from New Zealand, and there a couple of other vets who help out from time to time. We saw for ourselves a few examples of animals needing medical assistance and how their lives have been saved; an old female dog who would have died if it wasn’t for an operation, and a healthy young cat named Sister whose eyesight was saved by Dr Trish in April after she had a severe eye infection.
Josette lifted the kittens bottoms to check all is healthy, the first sign of diarrhoea and sickness is the bottom. She said if you would have told her six years ago she would be looking at cats bottoms in Cambodia on a daily basis, she wouldn’t have believed you.
To follow the amazing work carried out by Josette, like her Facebook Page. Each cat has their own file so you can follow their progress.
The location of the Pagoda isn’t publicised, as there are already too many cats for Josette and the monks to look after.
If you wish to arrange to visit, contact Josette via her Facebook Page. She will respond within an hour or two. She has a dedicated driver that will pick you up from your accommodation, you can buy cat food on the way if you haven’t already purchased some, he will wait around then take you back to your accommodation. The cost is $10.
Where can you buy cat and dog food in Siem Reap?
Lucky Mall, Angkor Market (1st floor) or Angkor Vet Clinic near Kandal are all places you can purchase pet food to take with you on your visit.
I’m visiting from overseas, can I bring anything with me?
Yes there is so much you can bring that will be extremely helpful. Medication: Flea and tick prevention such as Frontline Plus for Cats- Advantage, and treatment against parasitic worms such as Drontal or the equivalent. These can be purchased easily from any veterinary surgery or supermarket in your home country.
If you have old towels, tea towels, soft bedding that you wish to donate, all will be gratefully received.
For visiting veterinarians, the following medication is most welcome:
- Suture material (catgut, 0 and 2-0 size, individual packs)
- Skin suture and surgical suturing needles (cutting edge)
- Sterile drapes (disposable)
- Yohimbine or Atipamezole
How can I make a donation to this worthy cause?
This charitable organisation runs solely on donations, and sponsorship from local businesses. Josette pays for everything so any donation will help. They can be made via Western Union or bank transfer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details. After meeting Josette, I know all the money she receives goes directly to supporting the cats and dogs at the pagoda. Here is an example of how your money will be spent:
- $5 is all that is needed to feed all the pagoda cats with dry and wet food for a single day
- $10 will provide a week-long supply of wet food (pouches) for all our kittens
- $25 will buy a large bag of cat dry food (biscuits) to feed to all the pagoda cats for two weeks
- $30 will fill the furry belly of all the pagoda cats with dry and wet food for one full week
- $140 will ensure that all the pagoda cats are being fed for a whole month, seven days a week, with dry and wet food!
- $10 will cover daily treatments for small ailments (eye and ear infections, small wounds) for two weeks
- $30 will supply three months of treatment against fleas and ticks for one of our cats (Frontline Plus for Cats)
- $45 will allow basic vaccination, including rabies shot, for one pagoda cat
- $50 will cover the surgical sterilization of a male cat (neutering)
- $125 will cover the surgical sterilization of a female cat (spaying)
Have you been to Siem Reap Pagoda Cats? If you are a cat or dog lover, please like her Facebook Page to show your support and spread the word!
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Need more advice? The Lonely Planet books have always been my first point of reference! Alternatively, other people prefer the style of The Rough Guide - take your pick!
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