Greece under Lockdown…Syros Cat neutering continues

25/4/2020

GAWFs collaboration with our partners on Syros, Syros Cats and Aegean Cats – We Live Together continues in 2020 – despite the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’! The pandemic is making us all alter the way we work and seek to continue our animal welfare mission. In this upbeat and encouraging “Day in the life” piece, Jacky Story, who runs Syros Cats with a group of dedicated volunteers, writes about how life has altered. But the cat neutering programmes need to continue to avoid the danger of us all losing control over the cat population!  During the coming months, GAWF is funding an agreed number of cat ‘Trap, neuter and release’ sterilisations from around the village of Kini, the base of SyrosCats, to ensure our joint work continues!       

Greece under Lockdown…Jacky Story writes from Syros!

I’m not an early riser, but by around eight thirty, I’m feeding the house cats and doing a few chores, while my volunteers look after the outside cats.  I have a permit that adds an additional reason to go out.  I’m allowed to feed the street cats in the village for a maximum of three hours each day.  We put food and water in five locations every morning.  An infrequent bus service is still operating, so I wait until after the morning bus has departed before I start my round. The cats know my car and are waiting.

Yesterday, one of the local vets who does a lot of work with strays, installed two new feeders for one of the colonies.  They have been freshly painted and look decorative, but the cats are slightly confused.  Never mind, they will get used to them as they have in the many other locations on the island, where areas have been designated as cat feeding stations.

We may be in lockdown, but our cat neutering programmes need to continue as we are in danger of losing control.  We’ve just discovered a new area in Kini, where cats are being fed but not sterilised and we need to address the problem.  Today, I have traps and cages in my car and we manage to catch a young female.  Last week I caught ten more, who were whisked off to the local surgery, operated on, kept overnight in my living room, checked over, then if well, released where they were caught.  That’s quite a lot of unwanted kittens we have prevented.  Greece has enough cats! Sterilised cats have a better life here and a much greater chance of staying healthy.  We sterilise both males and females, which also helps prevent the spread of Feline AIDS as well as other diseases.  It also curbs some of the cats’ anti-social behaviour, which is an irritant for those who don’t like them and can provoke cruelty.

I’m back home by ten thirty with fresh bread from the village shop to prepare breakfast for my helpers – we’ve all been locked down here together for more than a month now.  It’s currently difficult for them to leave.  But currently with no Covid 19 cases on the island, it feels like a safe place to be.

I interpret my trip to the veterinary surgery as a ‘medical rendezvous’ and fill out the necessary form.  Residents here are obeying the rules, there are few people out and hardly any cars on the road.  We have a small police presence on the island but they don’t need to be heavy handed, mostly people are doing as they have been told and staying home except for essential journeys.  I take the opportunity to top up on cat and human supplies while I’m in town – the shops will be closed by the time I go back for the cat.

She’s sleeping off her anaesthetic in a cage and is quiet for the night.  But by feeding time the next morning she’s furious.  Nothing wrong with her and I release her near her food source.  She’s too stressed to eat immediately, but I leave plenty of food.  She’ll be back later for sure.

We have a big support network that helps us with our work.  And it wouldn’t be possible without them.  We have funding from Animal Action Greece and the Greek Cat Welfare Society who help with costs of the surgery and other medical and veterinary expenses.  We have regular sponsors from around the world, who donate each month to cover our food costs.  There are others who regularly feed cats in different areas and help with trapping and vet trips.  We have amazingly supportive local vets, who care about strays and help us to give them the health care they deserve.  In more normal times we have tourists who visit, donate and often adopt rescued cats or abandoned kittens and an ongoing stream of willing volunteers, who give freely of their time and love.  A big thank you to everyone!

Life goes on under lockdown – Kini, Syros, Greece…