Cats of Greece

Community: Cats of Greece

Posted Portes Magazine COMMUNITY
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{Greek cats…There’s no Greek book, no post card set, no collection of summer in Greece photos, no seaside tavern dining experience complete without these curious felines. Indeed, the cats of Greece have come to represent one of the country’s most characteristic and classic symbols.}

But not all is rosy for these furry creatures. Sadly, stray animals are subject to many dangers and direct human abuse, as cases of deliberate animal poisoning or dumping into trash bins still occur throughout Greece. But good Samaritans and animal advocacy groups around the country are doing their share in making Greece a better place for cats and their communities by helping change minds and manners, one cat at a time. Trapping and spaying or neutering street cats is globally recognized as the most effective and most humane way to help minimize problems stemming from stray overpopulation. Portes Magazine takes you on a cat tour with the founders of Nine Lives Greece, also known as Οι Εφτάψυχες to find out more.

Launched in 2006 by a team of experienced animal welfare volunteers, Nine Lives Greece feeds and cares for some 400 stray Athenian cats daily around the Syntagma, Acropolis, and Omonia areas. They don’t own a shelter, but rather, these ladies take their work to the streets, monitoring stray cat colonies around the city.

We met Nine Lives Greece founders Cordelia Madden-Kanellopoulou and Eleni Kefalopoulou at the Acropolis Metro station where we began our cat tour on a warm summer evening. Cordelia lugged around a cage and treats, while Eleni held bags of cat feed. Our group received curious stares from passersby as we trotted along to meet the cats.

“We estimate there are about 10 cats on each block in Athens,” Cordelia said.

At some point we reached a gated ancient ground near the Lysicrates monument in Plaka. There were no cats in plain sight, but as soon as Eleni let out a signature whistle and rustled the bags of food, a number of them sprouted out of their hiding places to meet, greet, grab a bite, and mingle.

“This is Ginger,” Eleni said, pointing to a one-eyed cat. “He is very wild…you can’t touch him,” she explained. “That black one is Vasco Da Gama, he’s a house cat but he sometimes comes out to eat with the rest. He belongs to the archeologist who lives up the street.”

As the cats lined up along the gate for dinner, we noticed the fixed stare of an unusually large-eyed feline. She was introduced to us as Charlie. We had never seen a cat with such dragon-like, yet welcoming eyes before. Charlie, who had just been released from the vet after surgery, ended up following us to the next feeding station along with some other loyal groupies.

A steady stream of cats gathered again at the next stop, as Cordelia and Eleni carefully inspected each one for any problems. Before we could head over to the third location, a scrappy sheepdog caught eye of our group’s activity from a distance and came trotting toward us. With about a dozen cats at our feet we feared we were about to witness a fray…

Continue reading the full-length story here. Below are some of the winning photo entries from our Cats of Greece photo contest.