Nine Lives Greece is formed of a network of cat-lovers around Athens who are dedicated to a better future for street cats, and who devote their time and energy to realising that vision. Here, Robin Klados, the brains behind our very successful Internet Cat Video Festival, shows how you can help cats in significant ways without even necessarily leaving home!
When did you get involved with Nine Lives?
My husband and I moved to Athens in 2010. When we left New York we had 2 cats, Purry Mason and G. Officer Krupke (a.k.a Kruppy). Unfortunately, my beloved Purry died shortly before we moved. Since Kruppy was getting on in years, I didn’t think it would be right to subject him to the rigors of a 2-hour ride to the airport, at least 2 hours waiting for the plane, 10 hours on the plane and then another hour or so traveling to where we were staying. And that would be assuming there were no flight delays. A very good friend of mine who was down to 1 cat from a high of 3, agreed to take Kruppy, so we came to Greece cat-less.
When I was growing up, we occasionally had a dog but we always had cats. So, naturally, I couldn’t possibly survive here without one of my own. I contacted Nine Lives and through them adopted a young 5-month-old cat. At the time we met her, she was destined to go back out on the street as soon as the vet finished neutering her, de-worming her and ridding her of parasites. She was lucky that we saved her from a perilous life on the streets, and we were lucky because she came to us with all those vet services completed.
What drew you to offer as a volunteer?
My love of cats and the fact that after quitting my job to move here I had some free time. Not to mention that I was impressed with the Nine Lives organization and wanted to do what I could to help a worthy cause.
What are your tasks/responsibilities?
Originally, I wanted to help feed the strays, but since I don’t have a car, I realized that wouldn’t be feasible [Nine Lives volunteers daily feed around 400 cats every day in neutered colonies in central Athens; Robin was living far from the centre and thus unable to join these particular feeding teams]. Now, I help out in other ways. I volunteer at many of the fund-raising events, manning tables of various sales items and sometimes take photos for our website. I also get involved on the technology side. I’ve created a couple of cat-related videos and have just taken over posting adoptions on our web page (https://www.ninelivesgreece.com). Soon I’ll also start managing our blog (https://www.ninelivesgreece.com/blog/).
What do you get out of volunteering with Nine Lives?
It’s very gratifying to feel that I’m helping, even if it’s just a tiny bit, to keep the stray cat population as healthy and small as we can. It’s also fun to go to the bazaars and meet other cat people, not to mention that we often get a volunteer’s discount on the already bargain-priced clothing, books, etc. that we sell at the bazaars to raise funds!
What do you feel is your most proud achievement so far?
Perhaps I’m proudest of the fact that I was able to precipitate and help organize our Nine Lives Internet Cat Video festival last February. It started with an article that Cordelia sent to the group about an internet cat festival at an art museum in Wisconsin. She suggested that Nine Lives might do something similar. I researched it and did a good chunk of the organizing for the event. I worked with the Wisconsin group to use their video, saving us hours and hours of work. I helped with the preparations at our venue, SIX Dogs. I also prepared a short trailer using some clips from the video and another volunteer, Marina, submitted it to a huge number of media outlets, resulting in sponsorship of the event by MTV Greece! Often I had to pester people with multiple emails to move things forward, but in the end the event was very successful and we plan to do another soon.
I can’t think of one happiest moment, but many. Going to the bazaars where I meet new people (and often new cats!) is a lot of fun. When I created some graphics for our Christmas Donation drive and when I develop videos for our site, my creative side is nourished. I love that I have a reason to learn more technology, such as IMovie and WordPress.
What are some of your goals as a volunteer/cat-saviour, and have any of them been realized yet?
My goal has been simply to help the stray kitties in Athens any way I can. After moving here, I decided that I wanted to spend at least some of my spare time doing something that is both rewarding and charitable. Both goals continue to be met.
In the course of volunteering, you have met many, many cats – can you tell us about a couple who are or were particularly special to you?
Since I’m not a feeder or person who traps, neuters and releases them, I’m not able to get to know the strays as well as other volunteers, unfortunately. But, naturally, my Tera, who triggered my venture into volunteering with Nine Lives, is extremely special to me. I’ve always been amazed at the relationship a human can develop with another species, and Tera and I have grown much closer since we adopted her. Even my husband, who, though an animal-lover, is not very keen on house pets, has admitted that he’s grown extremely fond of her.
Would you recommend volunteering for Nine Lives to others?
Absolutely. Even the small amount that I’m able to contribute is exceedingly rewarding. Plus it’s a chance to meet new people, a side benefit which is particularly helpful for those who are new to Athens. And the Nine Lives team is delightful to work with.