July 2017 – A well-planned mission

Immediately after Marie’s return, a bigger mission was planned for July:

Well, the travel preparations are done, I will be back to the island in three weeks. A user from another forum accompanies me this time, which makes me very happy.

This time a big neutering action is planned. All adult female cats at my feeding site – 4 to 6 in total – shall be neutered. A. also asks that the cats at their feeding site can be neutered. That’s another 11 females. A. can not pay for the neutering, so she „only feeds“ because she can not look away. However, it is just as clear to her as it is for us that this permanently increases the misery. That’s why I want to have their strays neutered as well.

At the moment the money for 8 cats has been collected. The commitment of 2 to 3 neutering sponsorships is quite probable. 5 to 6 are still missing.

This autumn I will travel to the island again in order to bring one or more cats to Germany, because there will certainly be some staying in the Greek foster home in the meantime, otherwise they won’t survive.

For the beginning of 2018, the next big neutering campaign is planned, during which the kittens from this year will be neutered.

In addition, some users are planning actions behind the scenes for the island cats. I think that’s great. This is not a project for just one person and if there are helping hands – in whatever form – that’s just amazing.

Meanwhile, I’m prepared for many things, including own transport boxes and a rental car. I know what medicines in the pharmacy are called in Greek (and that you get it over the counter there) and where the people live. It´s still not really relaxed but much, much easier. It is already a huge problem to find the way around, if you are not familiar with the locality, all live in different villages on some mountains and there are NO addresses. And the contacts with the local people become more reliable, you get to know each other and that makes a lot of difference.

Liza is now advertised for placement, has increased 350 grams in ten days and pastimes with games:

Well, on Andros it went straight to the point immediately. The first cats were neutered. The minis leave to Germany. They have already been made ready for departure. First they will be quarantined because they have kitty flu and need to be treated, then vaccinated against flu and panleucopenia. FIV, FeLV and possibly Giardia tests will be done, they will be neutered and then Destiny (gray, female) comes to Liza (thus directly after the end of the quarantine, so that Liza has a compagnion). Haribo and the little Muppet (red-white and red) then come as foster cats to good friends when the medically treatment has finished.

Samurai is currently in the apartment. He was neutered, chipped, made ready to travel and the teeth were treated. Then he comes to a foster home in Dresden. There are no other cats and he can participate in everyday life. That’s ideal for him.

A few pictures of the feeding site. The two neutered cats (Eleni and Aliki) have been brought there again. Cara (the first cat neutered in May) found a friend. This cat has an abscess on the cheek. Abscesses are one of the common causes of death in cats when blood poisoning develops.

Due to the very good cooperation with the vet, Marie decided to have cats neutered at another feeding site because of the bad condition in which many cats are there. There is feeding, but only 3 out of 16 female cats are neutered. Thanks to the food also the sick cats survive, and the pressure of infection in the group is gigantic.

Yesterday, the first three cats came to the vet. They were neutered and the veterinarian also checks their teeth. Due to cat flu, the cats often have dental problems. If they are under anesthetic, they can get helped at least with it.

Here are some pictures of this group of cats.

In the meantime, Carla’s cat friend with the abscess and the black „eye cat“ named Star were catched and taken to the vet. The one eye is „slipped“ and would have to be removed. But since Star has kittens that could not be found so far, she has to be released quickly. Therefore, the eye can not be operated on until the next time. The tomcat was taken care of, the abscess rinsed and because he was once under anesthetic, he was neutered directly.

At the feeding site #2 it now looks like this:

After days of intensive animal welfare work on Andros, the time had come for the return journey:

I arrived back in Berlin today. A. and A., who take care of the feeding sites, want to have to continue with the neutering.

The minis are in my bathroom for temporary quarantine. After FIV and FeLV test a socialization is intended at least by a mini with Liza. They are already vaccinated for the first time against cat flu and panleucopenia. But there are also tactical conditions, because: Liza has two requests. If she moves out in time, I would not put a mini to her anymore. Then the three minis stay together until placement. But if the inquiries are not followed by placement very soon, Liza gets company. It’s really time now. That will be decided this week.

The minis are fit for health, have mostly overslept the trip comfortably and now romp in good mood in the bathroom. They are treated against fleas, mites and worms, eat canned food like little predators, are a bit cautious about unknown people. But whoever bribes them with chewing sticks will be taken immediately to their little kitten’s heart. All three are little purr-cuddly tigers and of course have the claim to the charm.

Samu (short for Samurai) comes to Germany as soon as his rabies vaccine takes effect. He has a solitary place at a foster home in Dresden, where he can participate in everyday life. Samu is very afraid of conspecifics and is very people-related. Therefore, this is ideal for him at the moment – in terms of possible socialization, we look further when he is fit.

He has severe itching, is scratching himself until he bleeds. The first suspicion is aimed at parasites, however, he is now treated. I have the impression that it has gotten better. The disturbance of balance is still there, but milder than I observed them in June. Maybe it is also related to the severe mite infestation. He has no cat flu, the teeth are treated now – except for the itching, he is fit and only needs to gain a few pounds, but since he has a huge appetite, the latter should really be no problem.

And here is the farewell picture of this trip: Aliki (neutered, see fresh identification notch on the ear) with son Elias (neutered) and little daughter from May.

Only a small paragraph here in this report, but a big step for the project: In the background fundraising campaigns were running in Germany, which led to the first food pallet being sent to Andros. No one suspects yet that this will be a big and regular activity that will significantly support the project. (Therefore, there are no photos of it.)

Finally, the report by Marie’s travel companion, which impressively describes what this project can do, how exhausting and strenuous, but also how worthwhile this animal welfare work is:

You have been able to follow in Marie´s reports what we have done and achieved. Those of you who do animal welfare work probably know what that means. For me it was absolutely uncharted territory and therefore I would like to give some of my impressions here.

Andros is a scenic island, actually a great holiday region. But you can not enjoy that, because the whole island is crammed with cats. And only a few of them are doing really well. Most are really very sick, which often leads to a slow death at a young age. One is looked at by the cats with hungry eyes on every corner, begged on openly or sees them digging in the trash. Here one just must help.

Because you can not start everywhere at the same time, Marie decided to neuter 2 groups first. The garbage cats and the cats of A. We had a total of 11 queens and 2 tomcats neutered. Does not sound like much for a week? One must not forget, however, what a can of worms this work opens:

You have to catch the cats, which can be a real game of patience depending on the cat and therefore takes a lot of time.

There are only a limited number of transport boxes and places in the car.

The drive to the vet takes about 45 minutes one direction, so you have to plan for the delivery not less than 2 hours. And that at least twice a day. Because we have cared for 2 groups, one has to maintain a certain standard of hygiene, which means scrubbing, scrubbing and scrubbing and disinfecting boxes. And change or wash clothes.

The cats need follow-up until they can be brought back again. So they will be observed after neutering, fed with mash mixed from canned food and water as soon as they are fit enough to minimize the effects of anesthesia, and put into other boxes if they have peed in it. In order to keep the stress and the absence time for the cats as short as possible, especially for the lactating cats, we have partially brought them back in the early morning between 4 and 5 o’clock.

The group of A. is in a hillside, you can reach them only by a stone staircase with felt 1000 steps. This means a long trip, everyone can carry 2 boxes in maximum.

But because the day has only 24 hours and you have to meet every cat, the possibilities are very limited. The fact that we were still able to neuter 13 cats, cared for Samurai, the abscess cat and for the minis, was only because we had very short nights and only a few breaks (and all at temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius). Whereat I had much more than Marie, who has used the „breaks“ to deal with organizational problems, communication with the local people or the reporting and public relations.

In addition, we have done networking locally – labor intensive, but important, because we are designing future plans for a Greek-German animal welfare project. The whole week was a very intense, emotional time with little breaks and difficult decisions, but also very nice moments. Many cats can start a new life now. Behind this is the work that usually is done by an association, but was carried out by only 2 people here.

During the week I came to my limits twice. I would like to tell you one of it: We just came back from catching cats and were on our way to the vet, when a cat ran into the street in front of us. She was definitely dying, infinite scrawny, staggering, lathering around her mouth and panting. So what do do? Pack up, get to the vet and put to sleep? Certainly the most humane option, but we already had four cats in the car that we could not expose to the risk of infection. At that moment you seriously think in the animals subject, to make quick work by car. We could not do that and decided to come back after the vet visit. Unfortunately she was not there anymore.

The image of this cat is still haunting me and shows how urgent it is to build a sustainable structure with the help of area-wide neutering that allows cats to live a dignified life.

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