Mexico’s National Palace Cats Declared Living National Treasures

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Within the enchanting confines of Mexico’s esteemed National Palace, a surprising constituent of wild felines freely meanders, leaving a legacy steeped both in whimsy and protocol. From the vibrant palace gardens to the grandeur of colonial passageways, the glory of this iconic edifice is shared by nineteen audacious feral cats.

Just as historic personalities have ambled these hallowed halls, so too these feline sovereigns strut, unperturbed by their surroundings. Jesús Arias, their appointed veterinary overseer, often finds their furred figures brushing his ankles as they spontaneously appear in meetings, make casual on-camera appearances during press briefings, or interrupt interviews to further their escapades.

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This fascinating dynamic has been solidified as our feline friends have been officially declared “living fixed assets” by the government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This action marks them the first animals in Mexico to be bestowed such a distinction, traditionally reserved for tangible property like buildings and furniture.

In giving the cats this unusual label, the administration ensures these cats a lifetime of care and feeding, an obligation entrusted to the country’s treasury, an obligation which outlasts even the term of the current leader.

Adriana Castillo Román, general director of the National Palace and the Cultural Heritage Conservancy, views these cats as emblematic of the palace itself. “Without these felines gracing the palace grounds,’ she muses, ‘the understanding of our world and this place would seem incomplete.”

The National Palace, formidable in its grandeur, nestles in the heart of Mexico City and has been the seat of the executive branch since time immemorial, standing on the relic of Indigenous Emperor Moctezuma’s palace. One cannot help but find it ironic that Moctezuma’s Aztecs, in contrast, venerated not cats but Xoloitzcuintle, hairless dogs, so sacred were these creatures that they would be entombed with their masters.

President López Obrador’s current entourage, however, is decidedly feline. Cats named Bowie, Bellof, Nube, Coco, Yema, Ollin, Balam and others seemingly have found comfortable habitation in the palace, often exhibiting dominion over their surroundings, brazenly strutting in front of the president during official proceedings.

These adventurous felines carry names of diverse origins, some commemorating artists like David Bowie, others borrowing from native Aztec language, embellishing the locality’s historic charm.

Although tales of these feline creatures in the palace gardens stretch back almost fifty years, the mystery of their origin endures, amplified by the vague number of transients who flit in and out, easily slipping through a small crack in the imposing palace gate.

Their visibility came to international prominence when a cat named Zeus engaged in a delightful governorship of the morning press briefings, idly wandering amid reporters until palace staff gently intervened.

The Palace staff collaborates regularly with vets from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, making diligent efforts to provide the best care for the cats, including vaccinations, sterilization, and microchipping. Luxury accommodations were put in place for the cats in the form of customized shelters and designated feeding zones. Their well-being is of such prominence that Arias was designated a permanent post to oversee the cats’ happiness.

During an unofficial feline press briefing, Bowie, Coco, or Ollin chose not to air their views on their new status of ‘living fixed assets’, with Coco gratifyingly swishing his tail, whilst Ollin made himself comfortable below a palace pillar to drift into a nap. Nube, a welcoming feline figure who is aptly named after the Spanish word for ‘cloud’, resonated the sentiment with a nonchalant “Meow”.