In the center of bustling Lima, in the Miraflores district, is Parque Kennedy. Also known as Kennedy Park, or cat park, here you can find over 100 stray cats lounging around and relaxing in the sun.
While exploring Lima, Peru we were a bit surprised to come upon this park, which clearly belonged to the cats that could be seen all over the grounds. I mean, they were everywhere! In the bushes, on the grass, up in trees, and on park benches. And it was obvious that they were used to people as they leisurely walked passed or looked up lazily from where they were napping.
Apparently, cats have called Kennedy Park home for over 20 years. Rumor has it that the original cats were left there by priests of a nearby church in order to help control a plague. But no one knows for sure. Over the years, however, they multiplied and the community began caring for them. Unfortunately, people also began to abandon their pet cats there under the assumption that the deserted cats would also be cared for.
I was told by a local that some people do not like the cats being in the park. They think it is unsanitary and an irritation to have so many cats there. Others feel the opposite. For example, there are many local residents that are not allowed pets in their apartments so they enjoy going to the park to find temporary animal companionship.
I was initially hesitant to touch any of the cats. But as we got closer, the cats looked very well fed and taken care of. It turns out that there is a group called Grupo Voluntario de Defensa Felina, or Feline Protection Volunteer Group, that feeds the cats daily and periodically provides basic veterinary services such as deworming, vaccinating, spaying, and neutering. On the weekends, they also set up a booth at the park to assist in adoptions.
The park itself is also well cared for. All of the grass and bushes were neatly trimmed, the trash bins weren’t overflowing, the park benches were pristine, and there was no garbage lying around on the floor. I was also pleasantly surprised that it didn’t smell like over 100 cats were around.
Whether the park remains cat-friendly will remain to be seen. One thing was for sure though; everyone at the park was obviously enjoying their time with the cats.
What do you think of Kennedy Park? Do you like the idea of a park where you can pet local strays? We’d love to read your comments below! 🙂
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