Nine Lives Greece volunteer Eleni Kefalopoulou looks back at the last six months of challenges, tragedies and joyful adoptions at the Acropolis stray cat colonies.
In the Acropolis area, we have been doing trap-neuter-return programmes for many years now. (See Six months at the Acropolis-Plaka colony.) The result has been healthy, stable populations – but now the stray cats are getting old. And life on the streets is hard for elderly cats.
During the first six months of 2015, many of ‘our’ cats needed help. Vakhos, who is over 10 (an incredible age for a street cat – bear in mind that the average lifespan of a stray cat is less than 18 months) needed endless vet visits and treatments. His friend Telitsa, who’s around 8, started to suffer from stomatitis. She needed two treatments a day, extraction of rotten teeth, but after a few weeks of freedom, all her symptoms returned. Our vet said that she needed a difficult operation to remove the root of an old tooth, but her blood tests showed that she had a heart problem, which meant she might well not survive the anaesthesia. So, Telitsa’s taking a heart pill every day, along with supplementary vitamins – but because she remains a wild, free spirit, we can’t always catch her to give her the pill every day…
Lovely Hippolyti (who featured in our 2010 calendar) suffers from a similar problem. Over the last months, she lost a lot of weight; her blood tests showed that she has hyperthyroidism. The vet says the best solution is to treat it orally with a daily pill, and, if there is no improvement, she will have to have surgery. But she’s an elderly feral cat: not easy to catch each day and give a thyroid pill to. For now, we are trying our best, until a dear friend and Nine Lives supporter in the US is able to send us a special transdermal thyroid treatment, which you just smear on the skin – so much easier!
Meanwhile, Sakoulas (“Bag” – so called because he prefers to eat his dinner straight from the bag), who must be around 7 or 8, also had mouth problems and needed to go to the vet three times for treatment. Thankfully he seems much more comfortable now.
Pelagia, who is more than 10, has kidney failure. But the kind archaeologists whose office is close to her feeding spot have taken her into their safe yard and feed her special food.
On the other hand, our two boys Tweetie and Jack, who are both FIV-positive and on the wrong side of 10, are doing extremely well – at least at the time of writing.
Sadly, we also endured four painful losses. Sweet Penelope and blond Vasilis suddenly disappeared without trace. Handsome Aris was killed by dogs, and lovely Pericles was found dead just before we took him to be neutered during World Spay Month.
The good news is that gentle giant Bougatsas found a home! Like Jack, he was one of the cats that the Athens Municipality passed on to us in May. They were among 40 cats that had been removed by a public prosecutor from a hoarder’s apartment, where they were living in appalling conditions.
Bougatsas had settled into one of our colonies, but he always preferred to sit outside an apartment building waiting for attention. It was as if he was saying, “Please find me a home.” So we did. After blood tests, vaccines and a short spell in a foster home, we were thrilled to find him a loving home with adopters who understand and love him.
Our lovely Rea, now called Marika, was equally lucky. When her owner died, Athens Municipality took Rea, but then had nowhere to keep her, so left her in their dog shelter for a while, then asked us for help. By a miracle, kind Sofia offered to foster her with their cat Bilio, fell in love, and decided to keep her permanently.
And Rico, a gorgeous ginger baby dumped on a pedestrian street, went straight into the loving arms of Anna and her children, who are aged 2 and 8 and already as animal-loving as their mum.
As the years go by, we see our beloved creatures growing old and disappearing, and our hearts fill with sadness. But if we think that at least we tried to provide them with all we could offer, they certainly have a better fate than the other poor stray cats that suffer, are abused, starve and die everywhere on our planet. And that gives us the strength to continue.
STOP PRESS: We just heard the most amazing news: Penelope is alive and well and adopted by a lovely family who fell in love with her seeing her every day in the neighbourhood, affectionately asking for caresses from their kids. We went to visit her and she’s as happy as could be. What a wonderful new start for this lovely cat!