If you are an animal lover, you will be happy if you stay at Rancho La Puerta, a Jewish owned spa retreat in Tecate, Mexico. Known affectionately as “the ranch” Deborah Szekely and her late husband, Edmond, started the place in 1940.

Back then, it was very rural, rustic and primitive as they were living in harmony with the surrounding nature. That love of nature continues, and today Rancho La Puerta is ranked as one of the best spa destinations in the world.

It is also a safe haven for the stray cats that have wandered in over the years. Guero is one of them. As guests stroll around the large, lovely, and peaceful gardens, they may encounter Guero, a Siamese mix with gorgeous blue eyes, near the guest lounge. He will come and rub himself against you, and say hello.

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Guero is one of the approximately 10-12 ranch cats, including Gizmo, Little Rat, Ginger, Uma, Missy, Sylvie, and Gracie. Most of them are strays that have found their way there.

Barney showed up one day and has proven to be a favorite. He is known as the “Dude” with his laid back attitude. He is also up for adoption to a good home and has all his shots and papers.

Each cat has its own spot to rest, play, and hunt. Gizmo and Guero like to hang out near the guest lounge and concierge office. That is a good vantage point to greet people.

Several of the ranch’s fitness instructors, including Denise, Margie and Mike, have been instrumental in the caring of all these cats for many years now, and have adopted several of them. Thus, there are ranch cats and staff cats.

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However, all the cats that wander onto the property are rescued, spayed and neutered, checked for health, and then put up for adoption. Some guests have adopted them and taken them back home. The cats seem to know which guests to approach or when to hide.

The cats are a favorite of the animal loving guests. Many repeat visitors come back and ask or look for them. One time, some women who were returning, asked Margie if “their little cat” was still around.

The ranch cats have their own following and add to the wonderful atmosphere of this spa with their own special touch. The ranch cats make the guests feel welcome in their own furry way.

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Miriam [Mimi] Pollack was born in Chicago, but moved to Mexico City when she was five years old. She lived and worked in Mexico for over 20 years. She currently resides in San Diego and worked as an ESL instructor at Grossmont College and San Diego Community College Continuing Education until June 2018. She writes for various local publications.