Greece and the Greek islands are inundated with stray, abandoned and feral cats. The majority of them are born in the spring and survive through the kindness of tourists who feed them.
rebeccascatsinsunAt the end of the summer season the tourists leave, and some cats survive through the kindness of local Greeks. But many die of starvation or fall foul of cat hating people who poison them or worse. Attitudes to animal welfare can be very different in Greece from those in the UK; cats are often viewed as a nuisance and subjected to considerable cruelty, mass poisonings being particularly common before and after the tourist season, to “clean up”. GCWS exists to help reduce this cruelty.

What we do

Since 1992 we have been promoting the care and welfare of cats in Greece.

Our main strategy is to support neutering of colonies of stray cats to reduce breeding. Trap, neuter and return (TNR) is now recognised to be the only humane, effective method of reducing a stray cat population. Over time TNR will greatly reduce cat numbers, providing it is carried out on an organised basis several times a year.

Our TNR work in an area is carried out in one or both of two ways: By sending volunteer vets and nurses, usually from the UK, to carry out the neutering in most months of the year; and/or by giving financial and material support to local volunteer groups who organise neutering programmes. We are currently supporting over 30 local groups with grants, equipment, supplies and vets/nurses, in areas including Athens, Crete, Rhodes, Samos, Skyros and Thessaloniki. (Owing to the workload of managing our support for local groups and the limited number of volunteers available to carry it out, we are not currently taking on new projects.)

Neutering programmes for stray cats steadily reduce over time the number of stray animals in the area. They also serve as a means to highlight the benefits of neutering, thereby encouraging local pet owners to have their own animals sterilised.

Having been neutered, stray cats are then released back into their locality. Lower numbers mean the cats become healthier through more adequate supplies of food and less fighting, thereby becoming more acceptable to human populations. This in turn encourages people to care for and feed the cats rather than poison them.

We ensure the cats’ continuing health and welfare by arranging regular feeding and care, including veterinary treatment by local vets when sick or injured. We are in contact with a large number of people all over Greece who daily feed large numbers of stray cats. Any cat neutered will always be fed and monitored by these kind people. However, we only support feeding where a viable neutering programme is in place. This is because we believe, supported by veterinary advice, that feeding without neutering only increases stray cat populations, working against the objectives of TNR and making the cats’ suffering worse.

As well as neutering, the vets also examine the animals and treat any other complaints. These frequently including fractures, skin wounds, eye problems caused by cat flu, parasites and ear cancer caused by the hot sun, especially in white cats. Occasionally they perform amputations, the underlying injuries usually a result of previous accidents.

We also support local shelter initiatives, co-operate with other local, national and international organisations with similar aims, undertake educational activities and liaise with and lobby Greek local and national government agencies.

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