Today’s the last day of my Greece trip and I’ve fallen in love with curvy mountain roads (that the Smartcar we rented can barely tackle), unexpected scenery and jovial old restaurant owners that bring out a free dessert after dinner. I have so much more to write about Greece and I will soon enough, but for now I will just do what I enjoy doing the most: post pictures of cats. And some nice doggies, as well.
Even though Greece has for long now been a member of the EU, the animal protection laws are, sadly, still not up to standard. There are a lot of strays in this country. Some of them have been abandoned after the owners got tired of having a pet, and it doesn’t help that a lot of the animals aren’t neutered – in a “macho culture” neutering animals is seen as something that is not natural, not recommendable. So the animals are free to run around the streets and fill the land as they please.
The situation for stray dogs in Athens has got better. Since 2003 the stray dogs have been under the protection of the city itself and the goal has been to document the strays, vaccinate them and make sure their living standards are all right. Adoption of a stray is easy at least for Greek people. Dogs wear collars and in general, people of Athens seem to like them, feed them and look after them. If you’re interested, you can read more about the stray dog initiative here.
The life of a stray cat is a little bit harder. They breed faster than dogs and most stray protection programmes are focused on the stray dogs, not the cats. If you google stray cat situation in Greece, you will find a lot of mixed information. Cats seem to be generally liked and appreciated as pestkillers and harmless additions to the neighbourhood, and usually a stray cat will get attached to a certain area where it continues living and where the people happily feed him/her. On the other hand, traffic and dogs are somewhat of a hazard for the cats. According to a Daily Mail article, cats even get poisoned after the tourist season ends. So even when cats in Greece might be living a full, free life as they please, their life span might be a lot shorter than that of a regular house cat.
Is it safe then to go petting the stray animals? A lot of them are friendly because they are used to people fondling them and they know that people are the ones feeding them, but you can’t blindly trust a strange animal right up. I almost had a smaller dog charge at me when I was trying to coo him to come see me. Cats, even when they might cause less harm than an angry dog, should also be kept an eye on. They are cats so they won’t attack you for no reason, but if you’d like to try and pet one, let them come to you. I found a lot of the street cats in Athens to be elusive and indifferent to human cuddles, and you will just stress them out and make them run from you if you keep chasing them, no matter how lovingly. Maybe it would be better altogether to not pet the stray animals, but if you are a petless animal lover like I am, you will find it very hard resisting cuddles from big fluffy dogs.
Have you been to Athens? What do you think of the stray situation?