Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Cats in numbers

I've mentioned before that the nearby hotel has a large number of cats. I was pretty anxious in the autumn: what will become of them in the winter? Until Christmas there were still people working in the hotel. Two cats clearly liked it better around our house than at the hotel and stayed. I had no problems with two more cats. Sometimes other cats came to take a look, but they never stayed.

With Christmas 14 cats were left alone at the hotel... The invasion started because those cats soon found out where the food was. I became desperate. As soon as you opened your front door, a mass of yelling cats assaulted you. No well brought up cats, this pack of grey, white, ginger and all coloured cats.

A friend took two small cats with her. That did not stop the deluge. Another friend suggested that I fed them at the hotel, a reason for them to stay there. That trick worked! I was finally alone with my own tribe of 12 or so cats!

Until I had to go to Holland. A friend was so good as to come and feed our animals twice a day in Eftalou. But I could not ask her to do the same at the hotel. When I came back the number of cats at home had increased to more than 20.

During my stay in Holland a small hero left us: the big Homerus. This was a young cat that survived an accident and due to this had to drag a back leg. He used the upper side of his foot to run and to climb trees. He carried on as if everything was normal, but it wasn't. His foot became an open wound. They had to take him to the Wildlife Hospital in Agia Paraskevi, where the Dutch owners Ineke and Joris took him in. The hospital is meant for real wildlife, but the owners also do a lot of good for the domestic cats and dogs. It soon became clear that the leg would have to be cut off. But poor Homerus already had an infection and became that weak before the operation that Joris had to send him to heaven. Poor Homerus, the little cat who embraced life so bravely...

Coming back, there was also some good news. Each year Ineke and Joris organize a sterilization program for the homeless animals on the island. In winter they get some graduate students from a veterinary school in Holland who come to fill their days with operations. Friends of ours put our cats in the program so that this time cats and dogs from Eftalou had no way to escape the sterilization-dance.

At the beginning of January Marinda, Mirjam and Annella from Utrecht came at their own expense to Lesvos to do the sterilization marathon. In Molyvos and Eftalou they were assisted by Karin (Dutch tour rep) and Melinda (Captains Table) to catch the cats and drive them to the vet in Kalloni where the operations took place. The cats not only came from Eftalou, but also from Molyvos, Kalloni and Skala Eressou. The number of cats they did in about two weeks were 91 females and 56 males. Just multiply the number of female cats by 4 and you know that this coming summer there will be at least 300 less cats on the island.

Animal lovers do not have to worry. Enough fertile cats remain to produce plenty of sweet fluffy kittens. Also those at the hotel are not all done, so this summer they can again try to beat the number they reached last summer.

What do the Greeks say about sterilization? Greek men especially are against it. It's as if you wanted to cut their balls off. They say nature must take its course. They refuse to see that with cat feeding tourists (and the foreigners living here and keeping a large number of cats) the natural balance is gone. They say that the fittest will survive. But we West-Europeans do not like to see cats decline and die in front of us. And so we continue our struggle for life between the old and the new cultures.

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

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