In a corner of Torremolinos at La Carihuela an observant eye might notice the sign 'Colonia Felina / CER'. This marks one the locations in Costa del Sol town where a dedicated legion of cat lovers operates from the association Málaga Felina.
These volunteers look after colonies of stray cats and run the capture, sterilisation and return of the animals to their neighbourhoods scheme, a process known as CER.
"It's very difficult to calculate, but we think there could be around 3,000 cats and 80-100 colonies in El Pinillo, Montemar, Los Álamos, La Carihuela...," said association member, Alicia Solís.
"We try to improve the lives of the cats that live on the streets. People don't want them on the street, so they poison them, take them away. We have also collected many cats with collars, with chips... They are abandoned and join the colonies. In fact, in La Carihuela, since the sign was put up, another eight to nine cats have appeared and that is a problem," Solís said.
The association’s work, underway for more than a decade, is to try to regulate the cat population in Torremolinos by sterilising the felines, so that they can no longer reproduce.
"The problem is a little more under control now. We have been sterilising a lot of cats for many years. Some years there are 500, others 400," Solís said.
The cats are also fed thanks to a group of carers: people who every day, buy food for the animals and distribute it among the cats they have 'under their control'. María Morillo is one of them, a 60-year-old unemployed woman who spends a considerable amount of money every month on the strays.
Two years ago the local council issued the carers with accreditation cards and so they cannot be fined for feeding stray cats. The association and the carers are asking the council for financial help to contribute to the food and the sterilisations.