Review of the Andros project
Dear members, supporters and friends of Cats at Andros e.V.,
Today we celebrate an exceptional anniversary – the 5th anniversary of our association! It feels like it was only yesterday when we met for the founding meeting on August 19, 2018, and yet we have achieved so much in these five years that it is hard to put all this into words.
We remember: the animal welfare activities on Andros started almost a year and a half before the foundation of the association with Marie’s vacation on the island in April 2017 and a cry for help from her in a cat forum on the internet:
„I am on vacation on an island off Athens and there are sick stray cats running in front of my feet at every step – poor things, skinny, with fleas and diarrhea in their half-length fur. I’d like to help, but there’s no cat shelter here locally, at least not to be found on the Internet.“
Step by step, Marie built up the Andros project, found helpers and supporters and called us together to found an association, when it was no longer possible for one person alone. However, even before the association could become really active, Marie left us completely unexpectedly in April 2019. We were left shaken and in deep mourning and also at a loss.
But we did not give up! Lavinia undertook her first Andros trip as planned in April 2019, although not under Marie’s guidance, but precisely because of this with the will to continue the project.
In the meantime, Jörg took care of the organizational continuity „at home“; there was so much to clarify and much was still new and unknown to us! The founding members and also a handful of new members met in May 2019 at the same place where the association was founded and set the course for the future path of the association.
Slowly, to stay in the picture, our train picked up speed again, and together with the Greek friends of the first hour, but also newly acquired ones, today we can proudly look back on what we have achieved.
Over the years, we have been able to perform many castrations – exactly 727 so far – and thus reduce the suffering of many cats due to uncontrolled reproduction.
We have also been able to provide urgent medical treatment for many cats, both directly on Andros and during compplicated operations in Athens, when the resources of the veterinary practice on the island were not sufficient.
The 57 cats and 3 dogs that we successfully placed started a new chapter in their lives. We are grateful to the people who were willing to give them a loving home and the care they deserve!
In addition, our food donations also show that we are there to help the needy four-legged friends on site. Through our 32 food deliveries so far with a total of almost 19,000 kilograms of food, we have been able to help the hungry animals and give them back a piece of hope for life.
And even if since the beginning of the Andros project almost six and a half years ago, unfortunately, already 88 cats have left us, we are comforted by the thought that they all went from us cared for, loved, and not nameless – with our Greek friends, with adopters or even in a foster home.
Animal welfare was and is anything but easy, and there were moments when we faced challenges that pushed us to our limits. But we never gave up, because we knew that our efforts would improve the lives of countless animals. Every stray rescued, every animal recovered from illness, and every cat placed are the result of our commitment and the great support of those who share in our animal welfare work, our successes, and also our worrying moments.
Every single number in this statistic is a story in itself – a story full of hard work, dedication, and compassion. It shows us that as a community, we can make a big difference when we stand together for a good cause.
We say „thank you“ from the bottom of our hearts to all of you who have done your part!
But as a small association with just over 20 members, including the usual „hardcore“ as in any association, we are dependent on active help and support. Whoever would like to support us in our animal welfare activities or in the various tasks of public relations is very welcome. Simply contact us if you are interested or have any questions! And like every animal welfare organization, we are also dependent on donations that enable us to care for „our“ Andros cats.
The team of Cats at Andros e.V.
2017 – Liza and Samu
In this and the following chapters we will not continue to let only numbers speak, but tell retrospectively about some Andros cats of the past years, whose life path led to Germany – representative for their friends at the feeding stations on Andros.
Let’s start with the „pre-association time“ in 2017:
Liza is the very first cat of the Andros project, who was found by Marie in April 2017 with a life-threatening inflammation of the udder, could be accommodated on site at short notice, and was also the first cat to leave for Germany in June 2017.
At the foster home, she enjoyed being a real beauty and was social and friendly to all the other cats – a trademark of almost all Andros cats!
Already in July 2017 she could move to her forever home and found a friend in cat Xena.
On November 18, 2018, two more Andros cats moved in with her: Vincent and Pi. But we will tell about them in the next chapter.
Samu, born in 2014, arrived in May 2017 in a physically and mentally desolate condition at a feeding station. As a result of a parasite infestation, he had scratched himself bloody all over his body, he also had dental problems, was emaciated, and extremely stressed and panic-stricken on the street.
For these reasons, he left for Germany in July 2017 and came to a foster home near Dresden. He received all-around medical care and developed into a very people-oriented and cuddly cat who likes to talk to his people – he gave cooing, purring, and meowing answers. If you ever wanted a cat you could have whole conversations with, Samu would be the one. This led to his foster home not giving him up!
Over time, Samu got more Andros company at his side: In May 2019, compatriot Soda moved in, in January 2020 Ciari added to a trio, and in December 2020 B’Elanna increased to a four-of-a-kind.
Look what a great cat Samu has become!
2018 – Vincent and Pi
Miro-Vincent (call name Vincent) and Pitchko (call name Pi) come from two different feeding sites on Andros and resettled like all our travel cats to Germany for health reasons.
Vincent was picked up injured by our Greek friend A. back in June 2017. Someone must have scalded his head with a hot liquid. He was further cared for on Andros until he could get his plane ticket in June 2018. He also turned out to have a flea saliva allergy.
Pi traveled to Germany with Vincent because, as a white male, he was having serious problems with his sunburned ears.
Both stayed with Marie for fostering and recovered very well – here is the comparison between June 2018 on Andros and September 2018 just before they found a new home.
Since both became best friends at the foster home, they went into placement together.
On November 18, 2018, both moved to their new home and met Liza, the first cat taken in and placed at the Andros Project, about whom we reported in the previous chapter. Together with Xena, the quartet was soon inseparable.
2019 – Ylvi und Aslan
Ylvi was already spayed in March 2018 and continued to live on Andros.
However, her emaciated condition in June 2018 gave her a travel ticket to Germany.
Aslan was picked up during the trip in September 2018. He was a good 4 months old at the time, but weighed only 1 kilo – just skin and bones. He ate extremely poorly or actually not at all. Therefore, he came immediately on this trip with us to Germany.
Both were then fostered by Marie and moved separately to different adopters in the fall of 2018. Unfortunately, both returned towards the end of the year and were looking for homes again. Since Marie had already taken in new foster cats, they both moved in together with Lavinia, who had already been actively supporting Marie as a foster home before the association was founded. Here Ylvi and Aslan were one heart and soul from the first minute on.
Fortunately, the desired shared home with free access was found for them, and so both moved again on March 29, 2019. They got new names – Ylvi became Philine and Aslan is now called Tristan – and this time also the forever home, as the photos show us:
2020 – Cosy
Cosy lived at our Greek friend S’s private foster home, where he was surrendered as a kitten in 2016. He was neutered on Marie’s last trip in March 2019.
On our subsequent Andros trips, he continued to be a constant and healthy guest.
He also appeared during Lavinia’s trip in February 2020, unfortunately in an unsightly condition. As it looked, he had probably had an accident in which his jaw had suffered, possibly even broken. Because although the cats live there at a private feeding station, they are still strays, who may well stay away for a while.
Cosy was of course immediately taken to the island vet. Unfortunately, he actually had a complicated jaw fracture. Since the possibilities for optimal treatment on Andros are unfortunately limited, it was planned that Cosy leaves for Germany so that he can be operated on by specialists.
The veterinarian first treated and fixed the fracture as best as possible. Cosy was given medication, fed through a tube, and remained there as an inpatient until his departure. Cosy’s departure to Germany, fortunately, took place as planned in February 2020.
He also moved directly to Lavinia as a foster child. He survived the necessary operations very well and also managed to eat well again. The only thing he has retained is that his tongue always sticks out of his mouth a little.
Cosy showed himself at the foster home as a loving and gentle giant, who after a short time of acclimation became very cuddly and affectionate and loves to cuddle with his humans on his lap or in his arms, of course also at night in bed. And he also lovingly took care of his fellow cats.
At the end of May 2020, after Cosy had healed so far, we published his placement ad, which fortunately did not have to stay online for long. Already in the middle of June 2020, he moved into his forever home, where he is doing very well with his friends, the Spanish tiger Mao and the red Greek Jill, until today!
2021 – Alissa
Alissa (or Ally, as she was called at the foster home) was one of the many stray cats on Andros and could not be overlooked there: sitting in the middle of the street, fearful, with a strangely bent left front leg.
Our friends H. and I. of course immediately took her away from there and had her examined. Alissa must have broken her left front leg at some point, which then healed so unfortunately and became stiff that she could only walk „on her knee“ with it, so to speak. As a result, this spot was constantly open and sore.
So of course she could not go back to a feeding place. On Andros itself, such a thing cannot be operated either. Since the October 2020 trip was just around the corner, Alissa left for Germany right away.
However, she was very shy and fearful. Fortunately, Alissa let herself be touched and stroked (otherwise the trip might not have been possible, since the cats have to be taken out of the box for the security check at the airport), but that was probably only due to the fact that she was trapped in her fear. Unfortunately, she could not really relax. One may not imagine what she must have experienced.
At the foster home, she retreated shyly and needed quite a while to at least gain some trust.
For the upcoming treatment, Alissa’s broken leg was to be x-rayed. Since she had to be sedated for this, the doctor suggested amputating the leg immediately, since this was, unfortunately, the only treatment option.
Alissa took the surgery well and was allowed to recover in a kind of „kennel apartment“.
Recovered and more agile, she thawed out completely at the foster home also thanks to the tomcats living there, and became a typical cuddly and social Andros cat!
So she finally found a home in May 2021 with people who aren’t bothered by her disability, and with 2 fuzzy cuddly tigers who make a great trio with Alissa!
2022 – Kitty
Kitty was found as a kitten by tourists in the summer of 2020 and brought to H and I, medically treated and already spayed and operated on the eye in November 2020.
In April 2021 she came to the Athens Animal Clinic as an emergency kitten, because she had some temperature, the left eye was very swollen, she also seemed to be very snuffy and did not eat really well anymore. A diabolo fragment was removed from the eye, which was not present in November 2020 – that would have been noticed during surgery at that time.
But that in turn meant that someone had been shooting at Kitty since then. H and I had no explanation and were very concerned. However, we were still relieved that Kitty was doing better, the fever disappeared and she was eating again. The quick action probably saved her life.
In July 2021, unfortunately, a swelling formed again on the eye, and a presentation to our island veterinarian raised the suspicion that there might still be a residual piece of the diabolo. An untenable situation for this lively little cat. So Kitty got a place on the travel list and flew to Germany on August 6, 2021.
Arrived in Germany, an examination with possible direct surgery was scheduled for the following week. The operation took place only in September because the swelling of the eye had gone down thanks to cortisone. The assumption that she was completely blind was not completely true. It turned out that the little mouse has a (but extremely minimal) residual vision in the left eye.
In the spring of 2022, Kitty moved to another foster home because it turned out that she doesn’t like other cats at all and the situation with the male cats at the previous foster home escalated. Kitty now lived as a single cat and really blossomed. Since she no longer had to always listen if there was another cat somewhere, she was much more relaxed. She enjoyed the fresh air at her secured window, cuddling and romping with humans, and sleeping on her bed at night.
We accordingly advertised her as a single cat, and she was able to move to her forever home on July 8, 2022. This is what her adopters report from her first few days in the home:
„It doesn’t feel at all like she’s only been here a few days. Weeks or months more like it. She doesn’t climb around on the balcony net, that gives her too much after for her taste. Instead, she rides on her shoulders. And I have much better ideas now, how I should design the catwalk for her, to meet her wishes and needs. And her coat has become super silky. Oh, and clicker training is already going on too. She loves having to keep her little head busy. And she doesn’t care if it’s treated, petting, or playing as a reward. I wanted to introduce her slowly, but she was so enthusiastic, so, of course, I adjust to her pace. Kitty loves to sleep on my feet and legs.“
In her long pedigree of many stray cats, a dog must have been involved at some point. You see, Kitty loves to travel and walk on a leash. The adopters went away to visit family for Christmas 2022, and Kitty came along of course!
2023 – Jolanda
Jolanda first attracted attention in January 2021.
Our Greek friends H. and I. reported this photo:
„In January 2021, a local and Facebook friend of H. had posted this photo and wrote as a comment that his blind cat hunts birds. H. offered that we could assist if he needed help with the blind cat. She never received a response. A few weeks later, on a rainy afternoon, on our way back from the feeders, we saw a cat on the side of the main road. From the way it was walking and holding its head, we concluded that the animal was blind. We stopped and took the cat into the car to bring it home. She was completely malnourished and covered with fleas. Then we realized it was the one we had seen on Facebook. We did everything necessary and within 10 days the cat was a completely different animal.“
The blind kitten was spayed in mid-May 2021 and was given her name in the process.
Since then Jolanda spent all her time in the „blind room“ with H. and I. in the house that the two had set up, and gave herself as a rather quiet and reserved cat. The two asked us already at that time whether we could offer Jolanda a future in Germany. We could assure that, but we could not say when that would be. Again and again, she came on our travel list, but again and again she had to clear her place for bigger emergencies.
What depressed us very much was the fact that at that time, due to corona, there were hardly any seats available for animals on the plane, although we booked the flight for planned trips months in advance and tried, again and again, to book a ticket later, even during the trips. Unfortunately, this was mostly in vain, and Jolanda’s departure became more and more distant. Jolanda had long been prepared for a trip with chip, vaccination, and tests. In a way, she had been sitting on packed suitcases all along.
In August 2022, however, luck was with us. A fourth cat flight ticket could be obtained shortly before departure and a box suitable for flying could be bought on the penultimate day. H. and I. were surprised with the news that on the next day, Jolanda could finally leave the country. You can imagine their joy despite the extremely short notice.
Here she is stretching her legs during a stopover before the flight:
But it was also high time for Jolanda’s trip! In addition to Giardia, which had been eradicated in the meantime, she unfortunately also brought inflammations in the eye sockets and a terrible dental status with her. The doctors advised to treat the teeth first, because there is not much to be achieved with antibiotics alone. The inflamed eyes are also severe, but can be contained well with antibiotics. To open two foci of pus in one operation is simply too risky.
Unfortunately, her blood work was also suspicious for FIP. But with subsequent detailed tests and examinations, the all-clear could be given. The tooth surgery then took place in mid-September. The x-ray showed FORL like in a textbook. The little magic mouse had to give up all her ruins except for the canine teeth. Some of the teeth were inflamed and had to be operated out of the jaw.
When this huge construction site was finally eliminated, the condition of her eyes calmed down (of course with the help of medication), so that no operation was necessary and Jolanda could go into placement.
Like Kitty, Jolanda clearly (and very unusually for Andros cats) showed her aversion to other cats at her foster home, so we were also looking for a home for her as a single princess.
And we also found one as you can hardly dream better! Jolanda moved on March 31, 2023, settled there very quickly, enjoys her life, and is cared for by the adopter in the most caring way! When her eyes started to water again, an examination by the veterinarian showed that the condition of her eyes had worsened and they should be operated on.
The operation was then carried out in a veterinary clinic with an eye department, and Jolanda even enjoyed chief medical treatment! In the meantime, she has survived her operation very well and is jumping around again as if nothing had happened.
When we report about our animal welfare activities on Andros, it is of course primarily about the cats. Andros itself always gets a bit short shrift, even though we always try to take a few glances at the island in our Andros diary.
Therefore, we would like to dedicate the last chapter of our anniversary contribution exclusively to Andros, a rather hidden jewel of the Aegean Sea compared to Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, and similar well-known islands.
Andros is the northernmost and second-largest island of the Cyclades group. With its 380 km², it covers almost the area of the city of Cologne, but according to the last census in 2011 only 9,000 inhabitants live there, about as many as in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen.
The steep mountain relief forms an extraordinarily varied landscape. Small forests, fertile valleys, year-round streams, waterfalls, and springs can be found on almost all mountain slopes. On the coast, there are more than 70 smaller and larger beaches, some of which can only be reached on foot or by means of breakneck roads.
Andros is divided into three administrative districts: Ydrousa in the north, Andros (town) in the middle, and Korthi in the south.
The „island capital“ is officially also called Andros, but in everyday language, it is called Chora. Worth seeing, besides various cultural institutions, is the picturesque, car-free center.
The Greek historian Diodorus told us that the island owes its name Andros to the general of the Cretan king Rhadamanthys. Because of its location, it has been of strategic importance at all times, beginning with a prehistoric settlement from the end of the Neolithic period (4,500 – 3,200 BC).
In the course of the centuries, smaller and larger nations gave themselves so to speak „into the hand“, because Andros was alternately under Persian, Macedonian, Pergamenian, Roman, Venetian, and Turkish rule.
Andros became prosperous through seafaring. Numerous captains or other high-ranking seamen lived on the island. In the 1930s, Andros ranked second in the number of ships registered in Greece, surpassed only by Piraeus.
The Second World War also covered Andros with suffering and destruction. The landmark of the island’s capital Chora, the Tourlitis Lighthouse, may serve as a reminder of these dark times. Built-in 1897, it was destroyed in a German air raid in 1943. The Goulandris family of shipowners supported the faithful reconstruction of the lighthouse in the 1990s.
In the following decades, the population decreased due to large waves of emigration, both directly to Athens and abroad.
Despite its good accessibility – it takes less than half an hour from Athens airport to the ferry port of Rafina, and ferries leaving several times a day take only two hours (fast ferries only one) to reach the small port of Gavrio – Andros is still little developed for tourism.
Batsi is the only real seaside resort on Andros, but even there you will not find any huge hotels. Vacation houses and apartments can be booked everywhere on the island, both in the few larger towns and quiet and remote. But even here you are far away from mass tourism.
Andros has largely preserved its charming originality and has an impressive network of over 300 km of hiking trails that stretch across the entire island. About 160 km are fully signposted according to European standards. In 2015, the „Andros Route“, a 100 km continuous route, was awarded the important „Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe“ certificate by the European Hiking Federation, making it one of the best hiking destinations in Europe.
There are several important archaeological sites on Andros, most of them open to the public and in the current state of excavation. Numerous finds are exhibited in the two archaeological museums of the island. There is also a maritime museum, two folklore museums, an olive museum, a modern digital museum, and several historic monasteries and castles.
Here the medieval fortress ruin Epano Kastro with the little church Panagia Faneromeni. From there, after a breathtaking climb, you have an equally panoramic view:
Even if you may not believe it in the hot summer months, Andros is one of the islands with the most water in Greece. Numerous natural attractions testify to the richness and diversity of this area, such as the Pithara waterfalls.
There would be so much more to write about this beautiful island! But a film says more than 1,000 words. And also on our trips to Andros we had to stop for small or bigger breaks every now and then – to gain strength and to get to know this enchanting island in the Aegean Sea a little bit better. So in conclusion, enjoy with us a few of our own island scenes!
Andros – The hidden jewel of the Cyclades.