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Why Are There So Many Cats in Greece? Facts Explained

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

stray tabby ginger cat on a ledge in santorini greece

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Greece, you’ll no doubt have noticed several things: the sapphire-blue waters, pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, the warmth of the people, and cats—many, many cats. Though it may be nice to be approached by a friendly feline while you’re exploring the country’s cobbled streets, unfortunately, the majority of cats you see in Greece are strays.

Greece is full of stray cats because certain factors make it easy for cats to keep breeding there. It’s a major concern for animal welfare societies, including the Greek Cat Welfare Society. Read on to learn why this is the case.

Why Are There So Many Strays in Greece?

Welfare organizations do their best to neuter or spay as many Greek street cats as possible to reduce the stray cat population, but, since Greece is home to countless strays, this is no easy feat.

Some local authorities in Greece also set up neutering programs, but this isn’t something that happens in every area. As such, many cats remain unneutered or unspayed, which means they’re constantly reproducing more and more kitties that will spend their lives on the streets.

The Greek government is well aware of the issue and has proposed making neutering mandatory, but this has met with vehement opposition from some in the country, especially with breeders, as explained in a 2021 Guardian report.1 It would appear that neutering is something of a taboo topic in Greece.

stray cats lying on the ground
Image Credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969, Pixabay

How Do Stray Cats Survive in Greece?

For one thing, the climate in Greece is just right for cats, especially given that winters are mild rather than cold. Moreover, it’s common for tourists to feed street cats, and kind locals often band together as a community to care for them by providing food throughout the year. In addition, welfare organizations contribute food and veterinary care for stray cats whenever possible.

The Greek Cat Welfare Society, for example, arranges for the cats it has neutered to be looked after by locals who feed and monitor them. The organization also collaborates with local vets to ensure the cats get treated for medical issues whenever necessary.

Apart from being fed and watered, as long as a cat finds somewhere to shelter, their chances of survival increase—at least for the short term. Sadly, some cats pass away at an early age from a lack of medical care or because they have the misfortune to come across people who view them as pests and kill them by mass poisoning or other cruel methods.

How Can I Help?

One of the ways you can help is to donate to a welfare organization that works with stray cats in Greece. You can find many associations online that rely on donations to help keep operations going. The money goes towards neutering campaigns and other essentials like food and veterinary care. You could also donate food to a welfare organization if you’re in Greece.

If you’re interested in adopting a cat, you might consider getting in touch with a Greek welfare organization, as these organizations are in the best position to advise you on what exactly you need to do. There are plenty of associations that would jump at the chance of finding a Greek stray cat a forever home, including homes outside Greece, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Cat and woman owners holding cats in shelter to adopt
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

Can I Feed Stray Cats in Greece?

Yes, as long as you’re discreet about it. Not everyone in Greece appreciates the presence of stray cats, so it’s best to ask someone (like a travel rep) where it’s okay to feed the cats. You may need to head away from the restaurant or hotel to feed them.

The reason for this is that if the owner of an establishment or neighbors don’t welcome the cats’ presence, it could result in the cats being killed. Also, avoid picking up or moving litters of kittens you come across as their mother won’t be far away.

If you see a cat that is injured or unwell, please seek veterinary help or reach out to a local welfare organization. The Greek Cat Welfare Society has an emergency contact list that you can bookmark.

Final Thoughts

In brief, Greece is facing a stray cat crisis largely because many are not neutered, and welfare organizations are working very hard to better the situation but it’s a long-term project. If you’re interested in helping in some capacity, please reach out to an organization that works with stray cats in Greece.

Featured Image Credit: farec, Shutterstock

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