If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted for a while, it’s because I’ve been on holiday in Crete. I took a break from blogging and from training, a chance to properly unwind. When on holiday I met a number of stray, un-neutered cats at my hotel. This blog post is about them, but also some advice for tourists generally on helping stray cats.
The cats of Anissaras
Cats are not commonly kept as pets in Crete and when they are kept it is as working animals to clear vermin. It is not common for cats and dogs to be neutered as this is seen as an unnatural practice – although opinions are gradually changing on this. As a result there are many strays and they visit hotels in the hope of scavenging an easy meal.
Here are some of the cats that I met at our hotel in the Anissaras region:
I met Ginger Ears on my first night at the hotel. He is a regular visitor to the pool side bar and very friendly. He is the first cat I have ever seen drinking salt water. He must have had a fight part way through our holiday (as un-neutered tom cats will) as he had a big scratched on his nose at the end.
Little Kitten Belly
Often to be found at the Cretan Restaurant at the hotel, Little Kitten Belly is a tiny, friendly girl. Despite the fact that she is probably less that a year old she is already pregnant, which makes me feel very sad. I do not have a picture of LKB as every time I tried to take one she head butted my phone.
A big, older tom cat who has quite a pronounced limp, but despite this has no trouble getting where he needs to go. He is more wary of people than the other cats that we encountered. He is also a bit of a bully to the other cats.
A lovely ginger kitten, it broke my heart to leave him behind because he reminded me of Rory when he was a kitten. He is so friendly that he will jump up on the sun lounger with you when called. He is happy to approach you even if you don’t have any food, just to get the attention.
How can tourists help?
Although my blog is primarily aimed at fundraising for Cats Protection in the UK, I am concerned with cat welfare everywhere. I have visited a number of websites looking for advice. VOCAL (Voice of the Cats Alliance) has a particularly good page with advice for holiday makers. Here is a summary of what I have found:
Should I feed cats abroad?
This is a very difficult question. Cats who have more food will produce more kittens, making the problem worse. On the other hand the alternative is to see cats go hungry. It is not advisable to feed cats from your hotel room or villa because the cats will get used to being fed there and then you will leave. It may also not be a good idea to feed them in restaurants, because if other visitors complain then action may be taken to “dispose” of the problem. When feeding cats abroad, it is best to do so in a quiet area, where they are less likely to disturb other visitors – unfortunately not everyone likes cats.
Should I bring a cats home with me?
Cats Protection would prefer to discourage people from bringing cats into the UK from overseas. This is due to the higher risk of infectious disease that these cats bring, but also because cats are not suited to long journeys and would find the trip very stressful.
It is possible but expensive to bring cats home from overseas and they will need to undergo a number of health checks before transport. If you are determined to do this then you will need to check local regulations to determine what is required. Local animal welfare groups may be able to help you.
What should I do if a cat is sick or injured?
If you find a sick or injured cat requiring immediate attention then you should find out if there is a local animal or cat welfare organisation and contact them. If you are willing to pay, you could contact a local vet and see if they will treat the cat.
What else can I do?
The best thing you can do is to find out what local animal or cat specific welfare organisations operate in the area and support them. Contact them and ask how you can help. Many organisations have websites and Facebook pages detailing the ways that you can provide support and donate to them. These organisations are working to promote neutering and improve attitudes to cats, which is the only way to create a genuine long term impact.