In the center of the quaint municipality of Miraflores, Peru, stands Kennedy Park, or Parque Kennedy. In addition to its peaceful setting and picturesque views it also offers … cats. Lots of cats. In fact, approximately 80 stray cats make Parque Kennedy their home, where they are cared for and fed by a small group of anonymous guardian angels determined to keep them healthy and happy.
The story of the cats of Kennedy Park is one of mystery and intrigue, where good versus evil and so far at least, goodness prevails. No one knows for sure how it all started or where the first cats came from. But local residents agree that the first cats showed up in the Park at least 20 years ago.
I did not know of the Kennedy Park cats prior to my visit to Miraflores in 2013. It wasn’t until I strolled in to the Park, innocently enough, and noticed a couple of cats lazing in the midday sun that I became enlightened. Closer inspection revealed a few more cats … and then a few more. Sleepy cats, playful cats – black, yellow and gray cats – all peacefully at home in their Park.
Local residents are split in their opinions of what to do about the felines. Some are pleased with the status quo, approving of the refuge the strays have found in the park, and appreciative of those who care for them. Others feel the cats of Kennedy Park are a nuisance and health hazard and should be removed, even euthanized. It would appear, however, that those arguments are not valid.
The group of caregivers who tend to the cats capture a couple individuals each week and take them to a local veterinarian who examines them, neuters all the males, vaccinates them and provides any other healthcare they need. They are kept until they have recovered from any treatment, and then taken back to the park.
In addition, the park is cleaned and disinfected twice each day using pet-safe products. This not only kills germs and bacteria, but keeps objectionable odors at bay. During my visit to Parque Kennedy, I saw no evidence of any cat-related bio-hazards.
There is one thing on which everyone seems to agree, however – the current cat population is large enough, and measures are taken to deter residents from dumping any more stray cats in the park.
For me, the cats of Kennedy Park added a delightfully unique experience to our tour of Peru. I can’t imagine any tourists who would feel otherwise.