Why a Greek Cat Welfare Society?
Greece and the Greek islands are inundated with stray, abandoned and feral cats. The majority of them are born in the spring and survive through the kindness of tourists who feed them.
At the end of the summer season the tourists leave, and some cats survive through the kindness of local Greeks. However, many die of starvation or fall foul of cat hating people who poison them or worse. Attitudes to animal welfare can be very different in Greece from those in the UK; cats are often viewed as a nuisance and subjected to considerable cruelty, mass poisonings being particularly common before and after the tourist season, to “clean up”. GCWS exists to help reduce this cruelty.
What We Do
Since 1992 we have been promoting the care and welfare of cats in Greece.
Our main strategy is to support neutering of colonies of stray cats to reduce breeding. Trap, neuter and return (TNR) is now recognised to be the only humane, effective method of reducing a stray cat population. Over time TNR will greatly reduce cat numbers, providing it is carried out on an organised basis several times a year.
Our TNR work in an area is carried out in one or both of two ways: By organising volunteer vets and nurses to carry out the neutering in most months of the year; and/or by giving financial and material support to local volunteer groups who organise neutering programmes. We are currently supporting over 30 local groups with grants, equipment, supplies and vets/nurses, in areas including Athens, Crete, Rhodes, Samos, Skyros and Thessaloniki. (Owing to the workload of managing our support for local groups and the limited number of volunteers available to carry it out, we are not currently taking on new projects.)
Over time, neutering programmes for stray cats steadily reduce the number of stray animals in the area. They also serve as a means to highlight the benefits of neutering, thereby encouraging local pet owners to have their own animals sterilised.
Having been neutered, stray cats are then released back into their locality. Lower numbers mean the cats become healthier through more adequate supplies of food and less fighting, thereby becoming more acceptable to human populations. This in turn encourages people to care for and feed the cats rather than poison them.
We ensure the cats’ continuing health and welfare by arranging regular feeding and care, including veterinary treatment by local vets when sick or injured. We are in contact with a large number of people all over Greece who daily feed large numbers of stray cats. Any cat neutered will always be fed and monitored by these kind people. However, we only support feeding where a viable neutering programme is in place. This is because we believe, supported by veterinary advice, that feeding without neutering only increases stray cat populations, working against the objectives of TNR and making the cats’ suffering worse.
As well as neutering, the vets also examine the animals and treat any other complaints. These frequently including fractures, skin wounds, eye problems caused by cat flu, parasites and ear cancer caused by the hot sun, especially in white cats. Occasionally they perform amputations, the underlying injuries usually a result of previous accidents.
We also support local shelter initiatives, co-operate with other local, national and international organisations with similar aims, undertake educational activities and liaise with and lobby Greek local and national government agencies.
GCWS is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered as a UK charity with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, no. 1008057. Our charitable objects are laid down in our Memorandum of Association: To relieve the suffering of cats in need of care and attention; and to promote, and educate the public in Greece in, the care and welfare of cats in that country.
Organisation and management
GCWS is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, working from home rather than costly offices, broadly grouped as follows:
- Volunteer vets, nurses and others, mainly from UK, for neutering work
- Local volunteers in Greece who organise and operate neutering campaigns, feeding, welfare and general care
- Fund-raising, membership and publicity
- Trusteeship and administration
Fund-raising, membership and publicity
Our fund-raising and publicity work is carried on through local events, collecting boxes, appeals to charitable trusts and companies, a newsletter, our membership, this website and various advertising outlets. We do not use expensive or aggressive fund-raising measures or pass donors’ or supporters’ details to other organisations.
In addition to the services of UK volunteer vets and nurses and local cat welfare volunteers, the charity on occasion receives donations of medical supplies from pharmaceutical companies and veterinary practices, and donations of cat food.
Finance and accounts
Our income comes mainly from individual donations, with occasional legacies, corporate donations and charitable trust grants. We aim to spend as much of our income as possible on animal welfare, in the form of grants, equipment, medicines, other consumables and veterinary travel costs; a small proportion is spent on fund-raising, publicity and central administration. Our Annual report and accounts for 2016 show financial support totalling over £95,800 to local groups, plus contributions to vets’ and nurses’ travel costs. Copies of the report and accounts are available here.