July 2022 – Actually, We just Wanted to Feed…

Last year, we went on a family holiday to the island of Crete, and then I went to Andros again. This year, Rhodes was the destination. We rented a holiday home in Stegna right on the beach and a car, arrived on time and immediately found ourselves in the friendly Mediterranean climate.

The plan was also this time to first enjoy Greek culture and hospitality, then the family would fly back home and I would subsequently spend a little more than a week on Andros with „our“ cats. And should stray cats show up at our vacation home, we would of course feed them as we did in Crete.

So far so good, and really no report for here.

But the following days then turned into a training program for the subsequent Andros tour, in addition to our actual vacation activities, which will now be told about here.

On the first evening already food guests appeared, first of all a tame, exceedingly friendly tomcat, fortunately neutered, what a look at the butt and the well-known notch in the ear revealed:

He became our daily breakfast and evening guest (during the day he moved to other properties and to other guests, as an experienced tourist cat does).

Our two own cats Gold and Silver we knew at home in experienced hands of our cat sitter. But also a replacement cat needs at least a temporary name.

On our excursions we passed this sign more often, which earned our vacation acquaintance the name „Watches“:

That first evening, another unneutered male also showed up at the food dishes – possibly Watches‘ brother in age and appearance, but shy:

From a distance only a third tomcat showed up, apparently older and more cautious.

Even that would not be a reason to report here. We only wanted to feed, to offer the strays at least a few days of relief and variety from the leftovers begged from the restaurant visitors…

But the next day, the third, older cat let us get closer to him, and our breath caught:

A really old fellow, furrowed from numerous cat fights, barely any teeth left in his mouth, with a dull look and wrinkled skin that gave a hint of what a mighty hunk it used to be.

The other cats didn’t dare touch the plates in his presence. He didn’t even have to hiss for that, a stern look from his old eyes was quite enough.

He even let me pet him very gently. His fur was hard as wire, his skin like leather, and he was always on guard against a wrong move of the vacationer while eating. No cat, which one could calm just with a courageous grasp!

Here it was immediately clear to us that we had to not only feed, but help!

First, though, this bruised but still impressive hound, which he must have once been, was given the name „Admiral“ by us.

But what now?

I had my „andros case“ with all the utensils, including boxes, gloves, cloths and my landing net with me. But just catching it? Without knowing the customs on Rhodes? Without knowing where and how the vets work here?

I therefore did what every tourist should do (and as we did on Andros): find an animal welfare organization from which you can get the necessary information.

So I contacted Andrea, the chairwoman of Flying Cats e.V., an association that, like us, protects animals abroad, namely on Fuerteventura and Rhodes.

I got useful advice, the route to and contact details of the nearest veterinary practice (about 5 minutes away in the neighboring village of Archangelos) and also the information that currently there is no one from them directly on site. But if I would trust myself to feed the cat and lure him into a box in the coming days, there is a Greek woman nearby who could lend me a box.

(I had imagined myself at that point merely as a „normal“ tourist, just vacationing on the beach with my family. Andrea did not know therefore that here someone arrived with complete cat equipment. Does one suspect also really not as first… I have this misunderstanding first fast cleared up, which led first for merriment and in the following days for a cordial exchange between us).

True to my life motto „I like to be spontaneous, but it must be well prepared“ I then immediately wrote to the veterinary practice to clarify the modalities there and introduce them to the Admiral with text and photos already times. Here, too, a friendly correspondence with the two doctors developed, including the southern relaxed announcement that I should simply come by during opening hours, if I have the tomcat, and then they will see further.

So all that remained was to convince the admiral of my intention.

Meanwhile, we continued to feed daily in the morning and evening, …

… enjoyed Watches‘ presence….

… and did not forget a tortoiseshell cat, which made its rounds in the restaurant:

By now we knew the times of our food guests.

Watches and his presumed brother lay early already on the garden furniture in front of the house, waited for my morning bath in the Mediterranean Sea and eating first of all a can of food. During our breakfast we had more. Similar quantities went in the evening over the food counter.

The Admiral came only in the evening, ate also not too much and withdrew after a short rest again somewhere into its hiding place. A test with Easypill still without medication only as a treat worked fine. (The Easypill with the flea and tick medication the next day he ignored neatly…).

I put therefore one evening to get used to a box in front of the house, next to the food plates. The success set in immediately, however differently than thought!

Watches‘ unneutered brother, that newbie nose, unabashedly strolled into the box and calmly looked at its interior while I squatted next to it. All I had to do was close the stall door quietly – and there he sat…

Naturally, we went straight to the vet with him, not without telling her beforehand that the now arriving cat looks a little different than the announced one…

Watches‘ brother was neutered the next morning and also got a spot on for bugs as requested. They then liked to keep him there overnight to see if everything went well. The practice makes a very neat and the team a very competent impression, so I left him there to pick him up the morning after next.

To keep with the „Gold – Silver – Watches“ naming logic, by the way, Watches‘ brother is now named „Jewel.“

Meanwhile, I was running a little short on time. If there was anything more serious with the Admiral, we wouldn’t be in Rhodes long enough. He didn’t dignify treats and box with a glance, and the Admiral seemed too savvy and clever for catching with the towel-wrap trick.

When he showed up that day, also quite early in the afternoon, I didn’t flinch for long, took the landing net to help and captured a visibly surprised admiral.

However, Jewel was sitting in the sturdier box actually intended for the Admiral, and it was in the vet’s office.

Unfortunately, the practice was not open exactly on this one weekday evening. So we set up to house the intensely male cat-scented Admiral in the bathroom. And that in a more delicate box. So the package was still wrapped in a net and the box door was secured with cable ties. He was in observant, frozen stray mode now, but it would only have been a matter of time before he tried to break out in the still of the night.

I still tried to reach the veterinarian. Fortunately, while not her, her colleague was able to arrange to open the office again just for us.

Until she appeared, I passed the waiting time there with a cuddly, neutered male cat, who was then introduced to me as her practice male:

The following morning, I picked up Jewel, who had served his observation time, and discussed Admiral’s treatment with the doctor.

Jewel, meanwhile, was visibly annoyed by his stay there. „Let me out now, otherwise…!“

The lovingly provided breakfast was therefore ignored, first get to safety!

The following night was unfortunately short. Late in the evening, a kitten was meowing somewhere. It quieted down, but after it was heard continuously again at some point, we went in search of it around four in the morning.

Behind our cottage and the one next to it runs a quarry stone wall. And right from next to it came the sounds. So we snuck onto the neighboring property with a flashlight and luckily found the kitten too. The little thing must have tried to climb up the wall and must have fallen into a cavity. There it sat now and hissed at me. The cat mom was there too, but couldn’t do anything about it.

Here at the very back, halfway up, squatted the little one:

Luckily, the wall bricks were loose, and I was able to expose the wall enough for Minikatz to decide to flee.

By the way, the mother cat was the tortoiseshell cat from the restaurant, who in the meantime also got her food from time to time with us.

She was trusting and friendly as Watches.

It would have been easy to have her spayed as well. After all, she is un-neutered, as evidenced by her clearly visible teats.

Unfortunately, however, this is also the reason why we can’t just take her away for two days for a spay, apart from her petite stature, which alone made a spay seem risky. She also showed up with her family the day after:

But Andrea from the „Flying Cats“ has promised me that they will keep an eye on it and try to have it neutered at the appropriate time, and the kittens too when they are ready. For that, thank you in advance!

The day after, I was able to receive the Admiral again – lighter by some body parts. For not only was he neutered, but a chipped upper left molar and the root remnants of the broken lower canini were removed at the same time.

The doctor estimated him to be about 10 years old or even older, which is already an amazing age for a stray cat.

Provided with long-term antibiotics and painkillers and also quite bad-tempered he moved away, the breakfast he also left untouched.

In the evening, however, everything was already forgotten. The Admiral strolled through the restaurants, like the cat mom and Watches too. And came late in the evening even again for a small snack with us.

Jewel, in the company of his fellow cats, has also regained his appetite:

Watches continues to rest with us from time to time in the evening:

So actually everything is again as it was at the beginning, when we wanted to feed nevertheless only…

Rhodos is now richer by two neutered cats and I by the experience that also elsewhere animal protection societies are active, which support one with advice and information, if nobody is on site.

I wish the „Flying Cats“ all the best for their work and, in addition to all the challenges that animal welfare holds, continue to have many beautiful and happy moments of success!

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