The Book

Among the many available cat books, "Islands of Cats" uniquely highlights the work of stray cat carers, specifically the more than 1,000 individuals in Malta and Gozo, who dedicate a significant amount of time and personal funds to the well-being of their feline stray co-citizens. Not only do they feed the cat colonies daily and all year round, they also take the animals to the vet if sick or injured, and, most importantly, have them neutered/spayed as young as possible. With a conservatively estimated 300,000 stray cats on the Islands, these men and women actually help control the cat population, keeping the number of this very fertile species from exploding in our sea-locked, small nation. "Islands of Cats" introduces the reader to a representative 22 of these individuals on Malta and Gozo, giving an insight to their motivation and experience. This book also tells a delightful cat story, provides vital cat facts, and outlines places of interest in the Maltese Archipelago. Indeed, an entertaining, socio-relevant photo-story book.

Strays in Swieqi waiting patiently for their carer to serve food.

"While exploring the Islands’ cities and villages, the traveller will maybe reverie pleasantly to the Islands’ idyllic past, when farmers walked their goat herds, or manoeuvred donkey drawn carts, through Malta’s narrow roads. However, awakening from the daydream, the traveller cannot help but notice a newer member of the Islands’ animal community - cats. No matter where you go, you will likely come across cats bathing in the sun, or lying in shady corners.

Strays chilling in Sliema
These cats are “feral’ - the result of a domestic cat being abandoned or lost and left to fend for itself, or, especially if they are elderly, have lived their lives with a person who has passed away, and whose surviving family members have thrown the animal out.

However, one will soon notice that the Maltese strays are far from starving, in fact a large majority of these street cats live together harmoniously in colonies. A closer inspection will show that they are well fed and in peak condition, with glossy fur and bright eyes. It is rare to see one which is unkept and sickly, and if one investigates even further, one will often observe ‘feeding stations’ where plates and bowls with food and water have been left for the feral cats.

Daily feeding in Pietà

There seems to be an affinity between a part of the local population and the Islands’ feline citizens. These individuals who see to the cats’ needs, the importance of which is underrated, are called: carers or feeders. In our quest to find out more about these mostly shy and reserved caregivers, Gabriele and I met carers from all walks of life - housewives, business persons, lawyers, room maids and doctors, Maltese, Gozitans and foreigners - people who give up part of their daily lives to be dedicated and loyal knight-errants, sustaining and protecting their own ‘islands of cats’."

Hardcover released 12 November 2016:
128 pages worth 20'000+ words, 258 colourful photographs
PDF* E-Book released 26 May 2016.
121 pages worth 20'000+ words, 222 colourful photographs
Author, Idea:  Alexander Johnson
Photography, Design:  Gabriele Ruttloff-Bauer
© 2016 Seven Beland Switzerland/Malta
* static format only due to layout including large amount of photographs