“On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me….”

This beloved traditional holiday song is the inspiration for a seasonal blog series, “12 Days/12 Ways”, an effort to draw attention to 12 worthy not for profit groups in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya and address their particular needs during this holiday season.

For each of the 12 days of Christmas, the BuyPlaya Blog, better known as “Life’s a Beach” will spotlight a charitable organization. Many of these may already be familiar to locals and frequent travelers to this area. Others, perhaps those most in need of recognition and support, may be new to our readers. It is my plan to do this every year, with updated information and wish lists.

The “12 Day/12 Ways” list has been completed for 2010. The organizations are listed in no particular order. If you have a favorite charity that you feel belongs on this list, collect all of the information you can and I will be happy to consider your group for inclusion next year.


Coco's Cat Rescue 

Coco's Cat Rescue is a non-profit organization started by Laura Raikes in March of 2009. Since Laura was a young girl she was helping her dad in farming and started rescuing all kinds of animals from bats to dogs, cats and even bottle feeding goats and lambs. One of the rescued cats was Igor who had only one eye after an attack by a crow. He is still a much loved family pet back home in Wales.

After moving to Mexico and marrying her husband Carlos their cat Coco was run over, as many of the drivers in Mexico see cats as a pest and make no attempt to avoid them if they see them on the road. Laura decided she wanted to help address the problem of too many stray cats-which leads them to be cruelly treated.

A week after Coco's death, Laura heard a distressed kitten "Rambo" in the jungle, hence the name Rambo.  She has then continued her work rescuing kittens and spaying/neutering feral cats in her efforts to help the animal population in the Riviera Maya. Each kitten that is rescued is in dedication to her very own lost pet Coco.

Also working on reducing the population, Laura began a spay and neuter clinic working with Kelley Anthony and the veterinarian Claudia Lewy spaying and neutering feral cats, rescued kittens and pets whose owners simply could not afford to sterilize their cats. Laura realized more needed to be done and asked for support from more vets. Before long, seven different vets in Playa were volunteering in the spay/neuter program for cats organized by Laura.

As the support grew for the project Laura began to meet many other dedicated volunteers and saw the need and opportunity for something bigger. Therefore in dedication to Coco, Coco's Cat Rescue was created.

Coco's Cat Rescue has a no kill policy and is dedicated to reducing the cat population in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. They achieve this via a TNR (trap spay/neuter and return) program for feral cats, and a rescue, treat, spay/neuter, and tame program for kittens under 3 months. The aim is to find a permanent loving home for all the rescued kittens in their care.

Coco's Cat Rescue provides free or low cost spay/neuter surgeries and basic pet care to those on a low income. While the primary focus is cats, Coco's clinic also provides spay/neuter services for dogs through grants from Sociedad Protección Animales de Peninsula (SPAP) and Veterinarios Internacionales Dedicados a Animales Sanos (VIDAS).

CCR is also committed to education which encourages responsible pet ownership and challenges negative associations with feral cats and consequent cruelty. Their long term mission is to greatly increase the number of animals that they are able to assist and expand their model to embrace other local areas in need of services.

Coco's Cat Rescue 

Why Coco's is Not a Shelter

Coco's mission is not to be a shelter. When quarantine space allows, they can take a rescued kitten into Coco's care. They help kittens as space allows. Coco’s primary mission is Spaying and neutering which addresses the bigger/ongoing problem. There will never be a shelter big enough for all the cats and kittens on the streets which is why Coco’s Cat Rescue chooses not to become a shelter and to focus on spay and neuter. This way they are preventing the problem and in the long run preventing the unwanted animals on the streets from being born. When you look at the statistics of how there are over 14,000 cats on the streets in Playa alone it is crucial that CCR focus on spay and neuter.

Why Coco’s Cat Rescue is full at times:

With over 14,000 cats and kittens on the streets of Playa del Carmen alone Coco’s Cat Rescue is overwhelmed with kittens most of the time. As they do not have a shelter and only have space for 15-20 kittens at any one time they are almost always full.
Coco’s Cat Rescue has very strict quarantine rules. When a new kitten arrives at Coco’s Cat Rescue it must be kept separate from other kittens for at least 15 days meanwhile the kitten undergoes treatment for parasites and receives its first vaccine. There are also many other contagious conditions like a virus or skin conditions like ring worm and mange which require a longer quarantine. CCR prefers to have 20 healthy kittens than 50 sick ones even if this means having to say no to people who ask them to take in more rescued kittens. Some illnesses are life threatening and by putting one sick kitten in a room with 10 other healthy ones they could end up losing them all!

In order to better assist and support those animals they cannot accept at a certain time, Coco's Cat Rescue has started a new program and hopes to be able to help more people to foster and ultimately find homes for the kittens they find or rescue.

When kittens cannot be taken in by Coco's due to space being full they can assist you with these things:

  • Free spay and neuter
  • Free first rabies vaccinations.
  • Free de-parasite meds
  • Free general exam for rescued animal with Coco's Vet
  • Free meds/help if the rescued kitten is injured
  • Free kitten milk, bottle and a lesson on how to care for younger kittens who can not eat by themselves.
  • Easy to use Poster Template for creating adoption posters.

This program is for rescued kittens only that have not yet been adopted. Coco's Cat Rescue is not able to offer vaccinations or general exams for people’s pets. We would like to continue to support the local vets who work hard and helped us get the program going.

 Coco's does have a permanent spay and neuter clinic for OWNED dogs or cats and rescued animals.

Coco's Cat Rescue

How you can help:
  • Donate!  Good News for US Donors! Through collaboration with "ViDAS" a US, animal welfare organization, your generous gift to Coco's Cat Rescue is now tax-deductible! To obtain your tax-deductible receipt, checks may be made payable to "ViDAS," and mailed to P.O. Box 20246, Boulder, CO 80308-3246. Please list "Coco’s Cat Rescue" in the memo section on the check. Sponsor a kitten each month for any donation.
  • Buy a Coco's Cat Rescue 2011 Calendar! 12 stunning photographs of the charming Coco's kittens. A must buy for cat lovers! Only $20 USD or $250 MXN!Buy 5 Get 1 Free!! That's $100 USD for 6 calendars! Makes a great Holiday gift or stocking stuffer for the cat lovers in your life!
  • Adopt a kitty! There are many kittens looking for a forever home. To adopt a kitten you will be asked to give a donation of 250 pesos. This includes the spay/neuter of the kitten. You will also be asked to bring a copy of your ID, proof of where you live, fill out the adoption form and answer some questions. Coco's does all they can to ensure that the kittens are going to the best of homes!

Cross border adoptions are very easy. CCR will sort out all the paperwork and can help find a "mule" if you are unable to take the kitten home yourself. You will be responsible for paying the flight fee and the adoption fee of 250 pesos.

  • Volunteer!  Coco's is always in need of volunteers! You may help by fostering a kitten, helping to trap feral cats and transporting animals from the pereara. Allergic to cats (like me)? There are still many ways you can help. You may collect donations from drop boxes, shop for supplies, manage the transportation calendar, write grants and proposals or assist with annual projects like the calendar and the cookbook.
  • Contribute items from the wishlist:   From the wish list the most needed items right now are:
    Cat Traps

    Flea and tick meds for dogs and cats
    Dog and cat cages
    Kitten powder milk

    De-worming medicine
In total, 1755 animals have been spayed/neutered since Coco's Cat Rescue began in March 2009!

Coco's Cat Rescue 

For more information:
Laura Jonguitud Raikes
President & Founder
Coco's Cat Rescue