Something to Meow About

Greece has been a country full of surprises for me.

Admittedly, we came here with no advance plan, and therefore no preconceived ideas of what we would see and do, but sometimes it’s the small things that capture my attention the most.

On this trip, it’s been all about the cats.

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They are EVERYWHERE … and since I love cats, I’ve been preoccupied with taking photo after photo of their adorable little fur faces.  I’ve earmarked at least a half a dozen cuties that I would love to bring home with me – although I’m sure Theo would be completely unimpressed … as well as Canadian Customs.

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Had I known about the local cat population, I would have travelled with bags of kitty treats for my new friends.  I’ve looked everywhere in the local grocery stores and been unable to find any – not that it matters.   I’ve learned these little scavengers will eat just about anything anyway.

Life on the street isn’t easy.

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It breaks my heart to see how painfully thin some of them are – especially in Athens – and many don’t look healthy.

However, on the island of Hydra, the cats were in much better condition and obviously cared for by the locals.

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This boat had arrived with a load of fresh fish.  As the nets were being cleaned, pieces of fish were tossed to the patiently waiting crowd

With such a large stray cat population, cities like Athens have adopted a trap, neuter, and return program.  Some of the cats we saw in our travels had notches missing from one of their ears.  This is actually a sign that the cat has been neutered as part of this program.

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Not all of the cats we encountered were strays though … this charming little princess had a collar and was extraordinarily comfortable with people.  With her purr volume on maximum, she was more than a little aggressive in her attempts to sample Gilles’ breakfast.

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I will have many fond memories of our time in Greece – and some of them will involve the many 4-legged fur-balls who briefly entered our lives.

 

97 comments

  1. The pictures of the cats on the dumpsters and the cats at the seaside are really great street shots. Sad to see all of those strays. On our Pacific Journey, it was stray dogs everywhere. People would often buy cute little puppies and abandon them when they reached adulthood. I remember these two dogs in The Gambier Islands that were so desperate for love (or to sail away from the place) that they would try to jump in dinghies and swim to out to the boats in the anchorage. It was heart breaking. I really wanted to take one with us but The Captain nixed the idea. Having a cat on board is one thing but a dog is far more complicated.

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    • I think that how someone treats an animal is a reflection on them as a person.
      Simply abandoning an animal to the streets / wilds is a terrible offence and it would break my heart to see those dogs starving for attention.
      Even a pampered domesticated cat is borderline feral at the best of times, but a dog is like a child. Their instincts are not feral at all 😕

      The fisherman on the boat tossing scraps to the cats on the shore earned big points from me. By that action alone, I conclude he is ‘good people’ 🙂

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  2. Cats running free in Aus are big problem. Its looking they’re going to wipe out anything we have left of native fauna; i.e small fauna. You’ve sold me on going to Greece in November but not the csts.

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    • I’m aware that cats have been a problem in Australia for a long time.

      I am very fond of cats – however, Canada doesn’t have a serious feral cat problem. I would likely feel different about them if we did.
      They are highly prolific, and without natural predators and/or a program to contain their population, you’re right – they can severely impact the survival of small animal life in an area.

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  3. Joanne that photo of the cats by the boat could be a postcard. Absolutely love it. We found a huge amount of cats in Cinque Terre. Apparently there because of the five fishing villages the cats, like your Greek ones, found a steady food supply.

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  4. I love kitty cats. Are you sure you took enough photos of them? They are all great. What an interesting place to visit. Good food, gorgeous scenery + cats. I think I’m missing something, having never travelled to Greece.

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  5. Wow! Who knew?
    You’ve really let us see the preponderance of cats in the photos of them on the dumpsters and in front of the boat. I’m glad to hear about the neutering program, but wow, they have quite the task in front of them

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    • That boat scene was a real eye-opener. While we saw cats everywhere, this scene really put an exclamation mark on it.
      I agree that the task ahead is huge. It takes a lot of effort and resources to capture, neuter, and release. I hope they will be successful in wrestling it under control.

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  6. What a heart-warming post, it instantly boosted my mood! Greece is big on stray cats, that much I noticed when I was there myself. Sadly, most of them looked very haggard and some of them were clearly sick. Your photos show the brighter side of Greek cats, which is great!

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    • Thankfully, the majority of cats we saw didn’t look bad although clearly some weren’t well.
      You’re a big cat lover too, so I’m sure you would have been smitten by some of the cuties we saw 💕

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      • I was actually double smitten by the sick cats that I saw… But I understand that it’s a hard problem that’s difficult to get under control. Homeless cats… (Not to mention that there are homeless people too…)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, the beautiful little faces! My heart breaks for the kitties who can’t find enough food or suffer with illness. I hope that Greece can get their stray cat population under control. Thanks for sharing this part of your trip and some of the furry babies that you met along the way.

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  8. The only place I have ever been to in Greece is Crete and it was the same. Much skinnier than these cats though, and the rumour was they allowed them to charm the tourists in the summer and put them down when they left. They did all seem to be suspiciously young cats….. but this was 30 years ago so a neutering programme is definitely excellent progress. And you’ve been to Hydra! Leonard Cohen territory, how I miss him.

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    • A lot of people either don’t like cats, or are very uncomfortable around them. My mother was one of them and my parents always had dogs.
      When I graduated from university and shared an apartment with a co-worker, she had a cat and I fell in love with them.
      I must say though, that seeing so many street cats is disturbing … especially the ones that obviously had a very rough life.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Greece is a wonderful country. i lived there years ago for a while. I remember a lot of stray dogs in Athens – one of them walked us all around the old streets near the Acropolis! Did you see stray dogs around? My friend told me there aren’t as many around these days…

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  10. All those cats waiting for the fishing boat was amazing! It’s so sad that there are so many strays. I’m happy to hear they’re addressing the problem and have a neuter program though.

    That calico one was pretty! I hope Gilles kept his breakfast. 🙂

    Thanks for the unique look at Greece!

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    • It was worth an early morning walk at the harbour to get a shot of those cats lined up at the boat. It made us laugh out loud.

      The little sassy one was a handful though. She was up on Gilles’ lap with her head in the box in the blink of an eye. We had some good giggles that morning 😀

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  11. Love your photos! We have been to Hydra, and Athens many times. Yes, lots of cats! We adopted one from the island of Evia when she was a tiny kitten and she lived on our yacht with us very successfully for over two years. We named her Artemis, and she was the luckiest cat in Greece! You can find info about her on my blog. We took her back and forward to England with us, but now she is staying here full time, with Tim’s daughter. I wonder if she tells her furry friends about her adventures?

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  12. Yikes! That’s a lot of stray cats. Clearly the ones on the pier are fed better, but this is just so sad. Neutering is a big help, but it doesn’t address feeding these guys or providing shelter or veterinary care. Unfortunately this is a problem all over, and not just with cats.

    On a happier note, photos are great. My granddaughter is going to Greece in January. I’ll tell her to pack some kitty treats! She and her sorority sisters feed stray cats that come around their sorority house. Like you, she’s gonna want to bring them back home!

    Hope your husband manages to hang on to his meals. Otherwise he may be on a very unexpected diet. Lol. —Ginger—

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    • My cat was from the litter of a feral cat which had been captured. The kittens were all socialized, then adopted out, and my Theo is the most affectionate animal I’ve ever had.

      If your granddaughter likes cats, she’s going to get her fill of them here!! Some of them look terrible and have obviously had a difficult life. That is the tragedy of uncontrolled animal populations.
      I suspect the numbers that are neutered are just a drop in the bucket 😕

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  13. Like some others here I had no idea about the stray cat population- wonder what the story is about how they got so out of control…maybe they have no predators – like hungry coyotes – to keep the outdoor ones in check? Some great photos.

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    • I suspect you’re right – and the neutering program is only addressing a small portion of them.
      Living on the street is a tough life and sadly we saw many dead cats on the roads – much like we see squirrels and raccoons which become roadkill 😕

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    • These programs to control animal populations tend to be run by volunteers and rely completely on donations. There just isn’t enough resources available.
      I told Gilles that I was a latent *cat lady* waiting to happen 😉…. but thankfully the one we do have is so high maintenance that another one is out of the question!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I hadn’t realized that there was an extensive cat population in Greece. I would have been tempted to take a couple of them home as well. Great restraint….and great photos!

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    • I hadn’t known either, Donna, and I admit it really bothers me. An uncontrolled animal population is a cruel life. I doubt they have the resources to really make a dent in the growing numbers.

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  15. I was in Greece about 40 years ago and have no memory of cats. I wonder if I was just paying attention to other things, or if the massively increased cat population is a new thing. Whatever the case, great photos Joanne, and I appreciate the unusual focus of this travel post.

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    • I knew so little about Greece before we left, so I had no idea this cat thing existed … or for how long.
      I really hope their neutering program gains strides though – this is a sad situation for such a large cat population.

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  16. I remember the cats in Greece. I was fascinated with them. On piers they are fed fish scraps by the fishermen. In the cities they seem to hang around restaurant/café places. I wanted to bring them all home too. Great pictures!

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  17. Oh my, this is a lot of cats. I love the one on the fountain. ❤ I understand your impulse to feed them all but it's not feasible. I remember roaming dogs of Romania… That made me miserable. Glad to see happy, fish fed island cats. How far will you go? Crete too?

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  18. Great photos, Joanne. I love seeing all the cats waiting at the pier. Mad me laugh. It is a little distressing to know that many of these cats are strays. I’m glad there’s an effort to neuter. It will pay off in the long run for everyone. 🙂

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