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Animal Advocates

Cats in Need: The Guardians of Recoleta

Blake Kuhre, of Be More Real films, is currently working on a documentary centered on a feral cat colony that lives in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the “Guardians of Recoleta”. These cats desperately need our help.

The colony’s current caregiver has sold off pieces of her estate in order to provide daily food and water, medical treatment, and affection to these cats for the past 20 years. With respect to the caregiver’s requested anonymity, she is very old and we do not know how much time she has left to provide for the cats.

Blake and his team have started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the feature documentary about the lives of the cats and their caretaker. By helping fund this campaign, you’ll help preserve the legacy of the Guardians of Recoleta for years to come. Donations not only help fund the documentary, but also help spread awareness of the cause, and help establish a relationship with a local non-profit to ensure the continued care of these important cats.

See a trailer of Blake’s documentary, “Guardians of Recoleta”:

Contribute to the Guardians of Recoleta Kickstarter campaign by clicking here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1443020920/the-guardians-of-recoleta

We asked Blake to tell us a bit of history about the cats and how he became involved in this project. Here’s what he had to say:

How do you feel when you see a stray cat or dog? You probably hope they’re not stray at all but hope they have a home. You may even want to approach them. If they run away, then that’s pretty much it, right? Out of sight, out of mind. At that point you probably get on with your day. But what if you approach a stray and it allows you to come right up to it, making eye contact with you the entire time. Upon closer inspection, you notice this stray is very clean and friendly and invites you to pet. Surely it must belong to someone, right?

There’s a place in Buenos Aires, Argentina where this is an everyday scenario for thousands of people every year. Visitors from all over the world visit Recoleta Cemetery expecting to just pop in and see a few famous tombs, take in the gorgeous architecture, then check it off their list and move on to their next spot. But before they leave, so many are smitten with the dozens of friendly cats that have been part of Recoleta Cemetery for many years.

How did they get there? Who’s taking care of them? How can I help?

These were all questions we asked ourselves 7 years ago when we first visited, and it killed us to return home to the US, back to our day jobs, all the while wondering and wishing we had closure.  During our first trip to Buenos Aires with my then fiance (now wife), Adrienne, we did all the typical touristy things, from the tango, to enjoying Malbec, to gazing upon the obelisco on the widest street in the world, 9 De Julio. Along the way we also visited the Recoleta Cemetery as it contained the graves of many Argentine heroes and was considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. As we strolled alongside the ornate mausoleums, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by residents who were very much alive: cats. We couldn’t believe how friendly and well taken care of they appeared. We pet them, snapped some pictures, and went on our way to grab lunch nearby.

Our rescue cat, named "Recoleta" after the cats that live in the cemetery in Argentina.

Our rescue cat, named “Recoleta” after the cats that live in the cemetery in Argentina.

Over the years we couldn’t get over how much that experience meant to us. In 2010, Adrienne happened upon a friendly stray cat in an East Los Angeles park during a work event. She noticed this cat was very social approaching everyone, meowing, and overall hustling for food. I remember getting the phone call that afternoon from Adrienne “Blake, there’s this cat I met at the park and, well…he’s in my car.” What was I to say, no? Of course not. Half an hour later, Adrienne arrived back at our apartment with the cat in the box, she sat it down on the floor, and he immediately hopped out,  jumped up on the couch, and went right to sleep. It was at that moment we knew he had to be named “Recoleta” as his trust, friendliness, and personality embodied that of all the cats we came to know at Recoleta Cemetery 3 years earlier.

Fast forward to 2014. A good friend and colleague of mine, Gonzalo (or “Gonzo” for short) decided to fly back to Argentina and visit his family there. Gonzo is originally from Argentina, and hadn’t been back since he was a little boy so this was quite the homecoming for him. I asked him to visit Recoleta Cemetery while he was there and check on the cats for me. A few whatsapp & Snapchats later, Adrienne and I were so happy to see they were alive and well! It was at that moment we knew we had to go back, and this time not leave Buenos Aires just wondering. We knew there was more to it, but no one knew anything. I scoured the internet and came across a lot of pictures but no answers. We then made the decision earlier this year to return to Argentina with Gonzo and find out what it was we were missing. We wanted to see if everything was still the same at Recoleta Cemetery, and sure enough, it was: the cats were still there, tourists were still taking their pictures, and not a lot looked like it changed.

DSC_0286After we spent days trying to figure out who was taking care of these cats and getting nowhere, we kept asking questions until we found out it was an elderly widow who’s been funding the entire operation, anonymously, out of her own pocket for the past 20 years! All the while she wishes to remain anonymous and secretive, paying a small army of people to look after the 2 dozen or so “living residents” of Recoleta Cemetery. “The Lady,” as she likes to be called, invited us over to her apartment, we heard her story how she is going bankrupt taking care of these cats and doesn’t have much longer on this earth.

We knew then we must act.

By contributing to our campaign, you’ll help help preserve the legacy of the Guardians of Recoleta for many years to come. We say “Guardians” because cats are very independent and no one actually “owns” them, plus the cats themselves are de facto guardians of the cemetery. Ideally, we’d like to see every cat adopted but the truth is even if this goal were achieved, people will still use Recoleta Cemetery as a dumping ground for their unwanted felines.

Your donation will help get our documentary made and distributed, spread awareness to the situation and cause, champion pet adoption, and help us partner with a non-profit to ensure every cat will continue to receive care.

Contribute to the Guardians of Recoleta Kickstarter campaign by clicking here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1443020920/the-guardians-of-recoleta

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