My spouse and I recently vacationed in Greece to celebrate a dear friend’s 50th birthday. We spent time on four islands and in the ancient city of Athens. Many things struck me: the gorgeous blue seas, the genuine hospitality of people, the ever-present and delicious baklava, and the ubiquitous cats!
In contrast with Northern Europe and the United States, where cats are expected to belong to someone or they are often considered a nuisance, stray cats are regarded as a natural co-habitant in Greece. They truly are community cats! The temperate climate and abundance of food makes it easy for them to survive. They are truly part of the landscape and embraced by everyone.
Most cats seemed healthy and friendly. After seeing quite a few young cats, I did a little research about Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs in Greece. I was pleased to learn that several groups were doing TNR on the main island as well as the other smaller Greek islands.
Nine Lives Greece is a network of volunteers dedicated to addressing the stray cat population through TNR programs. In 2016, they had 1,577 cats spayed and neutered. They also have daily feeding programs and provide veterinary care. They try to find responsible homes for as many stray or abandoned cats and kittens as possible.
The Greek Animal Welfare Fund, based in London and operating throughout Greece as Animal Action Hellas, aims to relieve suffering, prevent cruelty, and improve the lives of animals in Greece through care and treatment (spay and neuter), advocacy and education, and by creating awareness.
While visiting the beautiful island Hydra, I noticed eartipped cats and chatted with one of the local merchants about the island’s TNR program. HydraArk’s primary goal is the “development of a healthy, balanced population among the island’s much-loved cat community through a program of feeding, vaccination, and regular TNR sessions.” They organize vets from Greece, Sweden, and Italy for semi-annual TNR visits. I can attest that they are doing a fantastic job! And the merchant I spoke with said that everyone loves the cats and considers them an integral part of the island community.
I love to travel and it affords me great joy. But traveling to a country that embraces community cats is nirvana! Suffice it to say, I came back with a lot of cat pictures. Hope you enjoyed looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them!
Until next time,
Outreach & Events Associate
Alley Cat Allies