Barbarella, The Mad Cat Lady

Barbarella, known locally as The Mad Cat Lady is celebrating her 11th wedding anniversary in Lanzarote today. This is no ordinary marriage and one that has caught the attention of the Spanish and UK press recently, as her partners are beloved cats Spider & Lugosi. We couldn’t resist asking Barbarella a few questions to find out more…..

Mad Cat Lady Carnival 2009Marriage Certificate Spider Lugosi

When did you first come to Lanzarote and why did you decide to live here?

I came here on holiday with my ex-partner in December 2000 for a week and again in 2001, and after also having visited Tenerife and Gran Canaria before, I thought that this island was the most beautiful of them all. I just fell in love with Lanzarote! One of the reasons that I moved here was that I had had enough of the "rat race" in London, commuting on a crowded train every day until retirement, and also the fact that I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and the climate and relaxed lifestyle here really helps with that too.

I had bought a flat in East London in December 1999, and over the next few years the house prices went totally mad and I had the good fortune of its value going up more than double in only a few short years. So I sold that flat and bought a lovely little apartment in Puerto del Carmen, where I moved, together with my 2 cats, in February 2004.

Barbarella with Lugosi & RubyCat Photo Shoot

Have you always lived in Puerto del Carmen?

Yes, I have always lived there. I love the fact that it´s fairly central on the island.  It is not far from the airport and all the good shopping districts like Playa Honda and Arrecife. Costa Teguise is too "British" for my liking, and Playa Blanca is too far from everything.  PDC has a great mixture of nationalities, which is something I like very much - I have Spanish, Irish, English, Dutch and German friends here. We also have the best weather on the whole island - it´s always a few degrees warmer in PDC than anywhere else.

Barbarella in Timanfaya10 year old Barbarella with Tinka

Did Lugosi and Spider relocate with you?

Yes, they came with me on British Airways from London back in 2004. Lugosi in particular doesn't travel well, and he was really sick and stressed out in the car to the airport even before he got on the plane. And when we arrived here in Lanzarote in our new home, both him and his brother Spider spent the first 3 weeks hiding under the bed, and only coming out when absolutely necessary! Poor things, the long journey was quite traumatising for them. 

I adopted them from an RSPCA shelter in Barking, Essex, in March 2000 when they were 8 months old, and when I found this website called, I just *had* to get hitched to my two babies, who are the loves of my life.  My then partner didn’t mind, haha! Even though I split up from said partner ages ago, I am still happily married with Lugosi and Spider - it´s our 11th anniversary on 9th January. :)

Do you use a cattery here?

I have a very good friend whom I trust 110% who looks after my cats whenever I´m away, and I also look after her cats when she goes travelling. I tried a cattery for a long weekend once back in London, but the boys really hated it - Lugosi got aggressive towards his brother, and Spider wouldn't stop climbing the walls trying to get out. It is much less stressful for them to stay in their familiar surroundings and with a familiar face coming to see them twice a day to feed them, give them attention and cuddles and clean their kitty loos.

Which local vet do you use?

I have used Veterinaria Tias for about 7 years now, which is an official "Cat Friendly" clinic, and Maria, Marga and Vanessa specialise in feline medicine. They have taken wonderful care of my furbabies over the years and I would always recommend them to anyone, any time!

Where's your favourite places to eat and drink?

Hmmm, that´s a tough one! I like quite a few places, but you would probably find me mostly at the Craic n´Ceol Irish Bar or the Kazbar (small local bar on Calle Juan Carlos I), which are both within crawling distance of my apartment. I have far too many favourite restaurants, but to mention just a few, I really like Bodecos Polish/Irish restaurant in the Old Town, The Asian Wok on the Avenida next to the Big Easy, Sapporo Japanese restaurant in Matagorda, and the Blooming Cactus vegetarian restaurant in Calle Teide. On the café side, I love Picnic on the Avenida, and Musa next to the Fariones Hotel.

What did your family think of your marriage?

They think I´m stark raving mad! But that´s nothing new to them anyway, and they just accept it the way it is, even though they think it´s weird. But seriously, when I look at all of them, my parents and my siblings, who have had their share of problematic relationships, divorces, psycho exes, and even a husband that turned out to be a paedophile(!), I can count myself lucky that I´m happily married and don´t have all the problems that human relationships may bring...

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

I am a keen hobby photographer, and my specialty is (who would have guessed!) CATS! I am always out and about the island with my camera "shooting" unsuspecting moggies, 13 of which are featured in my calendar "Cat Faces 2015: Cats of Lanzarote Edition" containing some beautiful close-ups of both street cats and domestic cats.

I am very passionate about animal welfare - *all* animals - and I would like to point out that Lanzarote has a problem with feral cats living in the streets and on holiday complexes.  I run the website and sort out a lot of the social media and graphics for the charity "9 Lives Lanzarote", whose main mission is to spay/neuter the street cats all over this island to keep them from overpopulating.  9 Lives Lanzarote rely heavily on private donations since they receive no monies from local councils or the Spanish government, and people can make donations via their website.  Apart from spaying/neutering, they also set up "cat cafés" in hotels - these are communal feeding stations that help discourage tourists from personally feeding the cats, who, after the tourists have left, would then go hungry again.  9 Lives Lanzarote also help people from the UK who wish to adopt a Lanzarote cat, sort out the necessary vaccinations and paperwork for them, and to book flights for the animals to the UK.

Of course it goes without saying Barbarella and her cats' marriage is for fun only and is not legally recognised, nor official, in any country. We’d like to wish Barbarella and her furbabies a very happy anniversary for today and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

You can find further information about Barbarella on her cat photography website and her personal blog