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At the headquarters of the Mexican government, 19 cats are 'living real estate'

At the headquarters of the Mexican government, 19 cats are 'living real estate'

The Mexican government this week granted 19 stray cats living in the National Palace in Mexico City “living estate” status. The National Palace is the seat of the Mexican government and the residence of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and with this decision the cats officially become part of the palace's patrimony: the state is therefore obligated to care for them, nurture them and feed them. As long as they live. For this purpose, veterinarian Jesús Arias was specially appointed to the presidential palace.

The 19 cats have lived in the building for years, and enjoy complete freedom of movement in all its spaces, including government meetings. The clear goal of the government's initiative is to attract voters' sympathy, but it also forms part of a broader program to ensure animal welfare.

The cats bear the names of famous people, ancient gods, ancient rocks and terms from the Aztec language: such as aulin, which can be roughly translated as “movement.” Other names are Belov, Nobi, Koko, Yema, Balam. There is a red cat named Bowie in honor of the famous singer David Bowie, who visited the National Palace in 1997 to admire a mural by Mexican painter Diego Rivera.

Cats, as mentioned, roam inside the building wherever they want: in the garden as well as in the old colonial rooms of the building. Last July, a cat snuck into President López Obrador's daily news conference with reporters, and hung out in front of the stage until officials took it away.

The cat, named Zeus, was also one of the most persistent in asking for food from anyone who frequented the palace: Adriana Castillo Roman, the palace's director of cultural heritage, said the government had to ask journalists to stop to feed him. Because he “got too fat.”

The cats had been in the presidential palace even before: Castillo said that when López Obrador took office, they were looked after by some palace staff, who sometimes brought leftovers from home to feed them.

But since the cats were declared “live property”, the Government House has vaccinated them, sterilized them and equipped them with microchips to identify them and not lose them. Inside the palace, houses and small food and water stations were built. The cat situation will remain even after López Obrador's government ends: and unless he is impeached, future governments will have to deal with it as well.

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