Cats in Greece are celebrities, and there’s no shortage of them that’s for sure, often providing the most popular images for postcards and calendars. The image of a cute kitten lounging around in a colourful Greek island setting makes the purr-fect memento for a holiday maker’s trip, but the welfare of stray cats in Greece is a serious subject often overlooked.
In Crete, like the rest of Greece, cats are everywhere. Almost all are strays, eking out an existence independent of a caring owner. Greek cats are street-wise; they have to be. As their lives usually depend on scavenging and occasional (often unhelpful) offerings from sympathetic tourists, shop keepers and restaurant owners.
Tourism plays a vital part in the lives of the legions of cats on Crete, with thousands living in or beside hotels, resorts and restaurants, all of which offer obvious and attractive incentives. At Creta Maris we’ve long recognized the need to care for the cats that come into our gardens and exterior guest areas. We do this not just for our guests’ convenience, but for the cats’ health and well-being. Feral cats are not ‘neutered’, which means their unchecked reproduction gets out of control, and with inadequate food and water, and often poor living conditions, overpopulation means the animals suffer.
And that’s why Creta Maris decided to act. We developed our own animal welfare program and in collaboration with the Animals in Distress Foundation in the Netherlands, have adopted what is called the ‘TNR program’ (Trap, Neuter and Return) to manage our local stray cat population. So far, (the scheme has been running since October 2018) many cats have been neutered (with the hotel financing the initiative) and have been given special shelters so that they can get through the winter safely.
Our neutered cats are easily recognized because their ears are tagged. The Creta Maris cats are fed daily at seven feeding points in the resort, and we do ask guests not to feed the cats, as their welfare depends on the balanced diet they receive at the feeding points. According to studies, neutered cats that are fed regularly protect their immediate environment and discourage new cats from entering it, so in this way Creta Maris’ cat population will stabilize and eventually decrease.
How can guests help the cats at Creta Maris?
Please don’t feed the cats. We manage seven feeding points for the cats at the Resort and ad-hoc feeding disrupts the cats’ managed diet, and leads to greater numbers of un-neutered cats coming into the resort.
Donate or adopt. Contact reception if you would like to donate cat food to our program or if you would like to ‘adopt’ the care of a particular cat.