July/August 2022 – A foursome with extra cat

Chapter 1: Island Hopping

The net of my landing net had just been freed from Admiral’s cat smell and it didn’t feel really dry yet, when it was already time to say goodbye to Rhodes and the beloved strays. (You can read about our animal welfare adventure on Rhodes here: “July 2022 – Actually We just Wanted to Feed…”)

The family flew back home at noon and I spent a few more hours at Rhodes airport to continue on to Andros.

 

By the way, the flight from Rhodes to Athens goes directly over the Cyclades, so Mykonos, Tinos and the other islands can be easily seen from the plane, as well as Andros.

 

Actually, the flight was also supposed to leave at noon, so I could have taken the last ferry in the evening. Unfortunately, a few weeks before the trip, there was a flight schedule change to the afternoon. I therefore had to spend the night on the mainland to board the first ferry the following day.

So I had at least the possibility to test the quarters now already on “travel cat suitability”. It has become (as I also wrote in the last report) now difficult to find accommodations that accept cats. Our old quarters are no longer listed in the booking portals, so you always have to search anew.

With three or four cats in a previously unknown accommodation to spend the night, is then always something exciting. So the flight postponement still had its good, I knew now already before, what will expect me home.

The view compensated additionally:

 

And I had so besides still enough time for the traditional “Lidl shopping”. Our now already regular store at the ferry port had closed in April, when Marie’s parents traveled. But not for good, but because of a complete rebuild, including enlargement of the pet food shelf. Because of us? Probably not, still a great service for the Andros traveler!

I didn’t buy the large quantity as on previous trips, however, since I had some set aside for me the last time I had food delivered by the country store on Andros.

 

The night was short, soon the sun rose over Euboea and lured the traveler towards Andros like the sirens Odysseus and his men.

 

And again, early in the morning, I stood on the deck of one of the ferries that connect the mainland with the Greek islands from Rafina.

Almost three years and several trips later, memories of my first crossing rose in me…

That time a trip to a shore completely unknown to me, only seen in photos and read about it in forum posts. But even though this was supposed to be the sixth trip now, I get swept up anew by the bustle of activity at the port, and it feels like a great departure every time.

The shrill of the whistles with which the policemen herd pedestrians and cars toward the right ferry like the shepherd herds his sheep, for there are usually two or three of these ships moored at the quay at the same time.

The gesticulating of the stevedores, who in the iron belly of the ferry persuade the motorists to now but obligingly park a little closer to the other vehicles, accompanied by their loud shouts, to prevail against the banging when maneuvering on the steel planks and the engines of the trucks.

All this is drowned out by the ship’s diesel roaring at idle; for the rest of the senses, the stuffy and warm air comes free.

And yet it is just one of the many ferries that run there daily, and simply a means of transportation like the regional train or the regular bus elsewhere.

The ferry departs on time, I doze a bit to approach the first AndroS day rested, and treat myself to a small breakfast from the on-board bistro.

 

After two hours, Gavrio is reached, the ship’s crew busily shoos off everything that is supposed to go to Andros and routinely fills the gaps with vehicles that want to go from there to one of the other islands.

 

This all takes only a few minutes. By the time I climb the first hill in my little rental car and the Mediterranean spreads out before my eyes, the ferry is long out again on its course toward Tinos.

The first day of such a voyage serves first to get an overview. How are things at the feeding sites? Has anything changed in the village?

So – quickly unloaded the luggage, packed the groceries in the fridge, filled the largest cooking pot with water and put it in the corner, in case once again the drinking water supply should fail for several hours. That happens in the summer quite from time to time, as I learned in 2020 (of course unprepared). Which is why I went to the beach in the evening with a towel and shampoo bottle…

Now on to the first round!

Feeding Site 2

Here was a reunion with some of our old acquaintances.

Tiffy guards the gate and greets me warmly.

 

Nyota gives the sphinx on the other column of the gate, …

 

… but retreats comfortably after feeding.

 

Scotty is also already waiting for me.

 

Eva is also present. She is one of the first and oldest cats of the Andros project and was already neutered in 2018. You can see her long time as a stray by now. Her eyes are cloudy, she is very thin, has shaggy fur and looks exhausted from life.

She will be talked about in more detail, but not in this chapter…

 

Our cats have a nice view from their feeding place, don’t you think?

 

It was not far to S. from there. Unfortunately, he was out of the house and his cats had gone somewhere into the bushes. Only Nikita ran in front of the lens.

 

Then I’ll just try again tomorrow and go on to the other two feeding sites.

Feeding Site 1

Therefore to see were now only Platon…

 

 

… and Mirion.

 

Feeding Site 3

Here, only Grigio was bored.

 

Since things are usually still quiet at the beginning of a trip and, as a solo traveler, I’m sure I’ll have less time to myself in the coming days, I ended the day (and now this chapter) with a visit to a restaurant.

This restaurant, whose operator gets his vegetables fresh every day from the garden that lies behind the vacation apartment I always book. And if you can taste the cucumber out in the garlic-heavy tzatziki, it couldn’t be fresher!


Chapter 2: The feeders fill up and a travel cat moves in with me.

After combining only a “control walk”, so to speak, at the feeding stations with the distribution of the first cans of food on the day of arrival, today was well filled with the typical Andros activities.

First, of course, was the morning feeding.

There was still nothing else going on at feeding station 1, but I assumed that the food distributed now and the night before was already a clear signal to the cats living there and that I would have more of an audience in the evening – which then proved to be the case.

Feeding Site 3

Here Grigio was now joined by Miss Meier and Timos.

 

Feeding Site 2

The group of cats already present yesterday around Tiffy, Eva and Scotty….

 

… was completed by Data.

 

I had to hurry up a bit then, because I had arranged to meet G., a local with whom some of us neutered cats already live, in preparation for the trip.

He again asked for assistance in neutering two male cats. However, one did not show up both now and on all the other days, so I was only handed a box, in it tomcat Frixos, who kept his name after neutering.

When he went to the vet, he got his turn right away.

 

At the practice I had the second appointment of the day right away, and that was with our Greek A. She was there for one of her cats, but we took the opportunity for a hangover to be handed over to me.

Even on the second day of my trip, I thus had a roommate in my vacation apartment:

Travelcat Rossato

Yes, read correctly! Rossato, neutered a few weeks ago, is to leave for Germany.

We had already reported that he had to go to the vet again right after his neutering because of breathing problems and unfortunately he also tested positive for FeLV there. With this diagnosis he has no chance on Andros. Apart from his own shortened life expectancy as a stray, he can’t go back to the feeding station like this, of course. But alternatives to that are basically non-existent; there is no chance whatsoever of placing him there. And squatting in a cage for life (we don’t even want to think of an even worse option…)?

So he was taken in by A. until the departure, cared for and made ready for travel in time – and a gentle, lovable, cuddly and friendly redhead moved in with me (because of the missing giardia test at first still in the easy to clean small annex next to the kitchen):

 

Today I also met S., so that the second feeding round of the day lasted a lot longer, especially since other guests appeared as predicted.

Feeding Site 3

Grigio continues to show his best side, but remained a bit shy all these days.

 

Amelie joined.

 

Feeding Site 2

Here appeared as new guests:

 

Private Feeding Site at S.

S. was home, and so I was welcomed in a now familiar way with Greek coffee, pastries and juice from his own orange grove. Always with the party is his in the truest sense of the word “house” cat Omorfoula. A somewhat older, stubborn lady – friendly to humans, but not at all interested in conspecifics.

Of course, this is difficult if you live with someone who takes care of stray cats on their property, and only feasible if you consistently live a pampered princess existence in the apartment. Whereby she has her own views on how a worthy throne must look (but at least with running water).

 

Before I mingle with the cats, the hidden object picture familiar to all loyal readers by now:

 

For the time being, I was only able to take portraits:

 

One more peaceful group at the end.

 

Feeding Site 1

This feeding site I drove to last, because I was asked by the Greeks if I could catch someone from the three, four new arrivals for neutering. I succeeded that evening at least for the white tomcat with the tiger spots at the very back of this picture.

 

The cat then had to spend another night in the cottage in the box. This is of course not so comfortable, but he had now already eaten something and is then at least also sober before the operation.

Yesterday’s mini-group, consisting only of Plato and Mirion, was reinforced, except by the future castration cat, by:

 

As in any travelogue, I would like to focus not only on our cats, but equally on this enchanting island.

On the way to the vet, for example, many beautiful views open up from the hillsides.

 

Still worth seeing is the beach “Paralia tis grias to pidima” and the footpath to it, even if the beach itself is no longer an insider tip.


Chapter 3: Take a breath, …

… before it goes in the next chapter again on photo safari with H. & I.

It’s Friday, the weekend is approaching and with the already planned castrations it does not go forward for now, because the vet for private reasons this time does not work on Saturday.

Only the cat caught the evening before by me at feeding site 1 was thus on the plan. However, he was not really enthusiastic about the upcoming procedure:

 

By the way, I can announce that the bag donation campaign carried out for us in an Internet forum was also a complete success in Greece. As a representative of the bags donated to our Greek friends, here is one of them in rough everyday use. The vet is thrilled with her bag and doesn’t want to give it away!

 

That day, I took a breath not only to rest a little, but also with relief…

I am a rational person and do not believe in supernatural or divine, which is not recognizable to us determines the course of life. But today I wondered if it was really just a coincidence that I am now on Andros, of all places, that of the unneutered tomcats at feeding site 1 only Gustav showed up yesterday and that I was able to catch him as well.

While he was just dozing off before surgery, he vomited what looked like a lump of worms. Is really not nice and appetizing, but at least something can be done about it. The cats at the feeding sites all get a worming tablet anyway as a preventive measure when we are traveling. So there was the agent for him now just directly as a spot on, and the lump went into the medical waste.

That settled the issue. Or so the vet and I thought.

But back in the apartment, I found in the towel that was in the box, still a part of this pile. Curious, I took a closer look, cleaned it, and tried to pull it apart to get a closer look at the worms.

But these weren’t worms, they were some conglomeration of yarn-covered rubber threads, perhaps a piece of a net that Gustav must have eaten the day before! And what can be seen here was only about a third of the whole thing he vomited up at the vet.

 

No telling what would have happened to him if he hadn’t regurgitated that garbage during or before surgery!

In contrast, there are nice things to report from my travel cat Rossato!

We keep it on travels in such a way in principle that animals remain separated in the vacation apartment in a room easy to maintain, as long as no negative giardia test is present.

I felt especially sorry for Rossato, who had only been with me for one day, but was still visibly suffering from being alone. But especially in view of still other planned travel cats, I could not just let him run around the apartment.

Fortunately, he cooperated assiduously and presented a poop like from the textbook that was also free of giardia. So, of course, he moved immediately, moved into his quarters in a similar glazed extension next to the bedroom and was of course allowed to use it!

From that moment on I had a cuddly cat who did not leave my side when I was in the room – and he visibly enjoyed his little fortune!

Whether the constantly protruding tip of his tongue is just a cute quirk on his part or something is wrong with his teeth, we will find out in Germany when he is examined in detail.

And – here you can show such pictures – I was happy for him, too, so I celebrated his won freedom with a common dinner (but then I rather left his food next door…).

 

Rossato is a calm, but also a bit anxious cat. Unknown noises worry him. When I turned on the air conditioner, the hum made him nervous and he sought my proximity.

Here is a Rossato exhausted from so many new impressions and cuddling:

 

There is not much news to report from the feeding sites today.

Meanwhile, at feeding site 1, a reliable welcoming committee awaits me, including Platon, Medea, Mirion and Emely. In addition, a (still) unneutered, one-eyed and also not shy tomcat.

 

At feeding site 2 I had the opportunity to take a look at Neela. Just a few days before my trip, A. (2) brought her to the vet with a severe abscess on her head. In the meantime, the operated area has healed very well and our friend continues to keep an eye on the Grande Dame at this feeding site.

 

Gustav still stayed with me at the cottage, because we like to keep the neutered cats with us for one more night to see if they awaken unharmed and are fit enough to be released.

With him, it all looked good, so the next day I took him back to his feeding site.

Expectantly, he looks out into the morning sun and makes his escape after Plato welcomed him.

 

Today now also the feline primeval Marie let herself look, held however safe distance, shyly as always.

 

At feeding site 3 Data mimes the “sphinx of the day” at the gate today.

 

Nikolas is a rather rare guest at this feeding site. That I saw him yesterday and today is quite remarkable. But wherever he hangs out – he seems to be doing well.

 

The vet’s Saturday off from work then also gave me a few hours of free time, so I set off for a goal I had long envisioned.

When we spent our family vacation on Andros in 2020, we also drove once across the island and came across a monastery in the midst of the steep serpentines, which we left at the time, however. Today I wanted to take a closer look and found behind defiant walls a true gem with a fantastic view of the bay of Chora – the monastery Panachrantos.

 

On the way back, which is no less impressive, you can see a lonely church enthroned on a mountain slope – the Theotokos Church, which also offers a magnificent view of the landscape.

 

In contrast, the many chapels along the roadside look almost modestly tiny:

 

After so much mountain it was time for sea. A pleasantly warm, yet refreshing swim on a deserted beach brought the day to a good end, before it really gets down to business tomorrow with H. & I.!


Chapter 4: Photo safari at H. & I.

After H. & I. gave me the pleasure last fall to drive almost six hours by car to many of their feeding sites and to look after our cats with me, I asked for a repetition of this adventure. Because that was quite exhausting, but also very rewarding – just to know also myself where all these cats live.

This time it was not a motorized tour over hill and dale with the two. They live from tourism, and now is high season, so I had to do without H.’s fast driving style. Instead, it was a several-hour walk with I. through their town, I in the role of photographer and food carrier.

This time it was not a motorized tour over hill and dale with the two. They live from tourism, and now is high season, so I had to do without H.’s fast driving style. Instead, it was a walk of several hours with I. through their city, I in the role of photographer and food carrier.

To get in the mood but first a few pictures that I took on the trip to H. & I.. I had planned extra time for this, so I didn’t have to rush across the island.

 

Arrived at H. & I., I was greeted as always warmly, but we did not linger long with it.

After a lap around the house to see the resident cats, the morning soon found us running up and down stairs through the place.

Phenomenal was once again I.’s memory regarding our cats and their names, especially since quite a few are called differently than they are themselves and there are also many other cats at the feeding sites that have not been neutered with us.

I. has a tool with her: in autumn she showed me a small DIN A5 booklet, fully written with feeding sites, names and appearance of the cats.

On this tour, during a small refreshment break in one of the nice cafés there, she suddenly grinned, opened her shoulder bag, spoke casually: “By the way, I need a bigger book by now,” letting a tangible A4-sized notebook be seen.

But neither in the fall nor now I. had to peek in it, she knew everything by heart! Again and again I got to hear: “No, that’s not one of you,” or “That’s xyz of you.” All I had to do was snap and write down the names, and what can I say – when I edited the pictures afterwards, all the names were right!

And these are now all those cats that I met:

Galany Ble Mati actually lives on the property of a friend high up in the mountains. But since there are hardly any shady places there and Galany Ble Mati, like all white cats, is prone to ear cancer caused by the sun, H. & I. bring her to their home during the hot season.

 

The blind squad, who have their own area in the house, include:

 

There will be more about Jolanda and a promise I was able to keep for her in a later chapter.

Bitoulis, neutered in June, is currently staying there in the house as well.

 

On our walk of fame… er… food, the first thing we passed was one of the safest and best feeding sites around.

H. & I. have built up a very good network of supporters over many years. This includes, for example, people who live on Andros in the summer, feed them themselves and in the winter allow the two to care for the cats on their property and provide them with comfortable, weather-protected quarters with boxes and blankets. If then these people are still relatives of the two, that is the icing on the cake.

Such a place is the one we visited first.

Jack goes right ahead to show the visitor the food bowls that need to be refilled.

 

Senior Pappous, whom H. & I. took to the vet in June for dental problems, has found his retirement home here.

A relaxed group photo after a hearty breakfast.

 

But the other feeding sites are also in quiet and relatively safe locations.

Here’s the black and white Ainslie next to a “this isn’t one of your cats” as well as Artemis:

 

At this point also lives Frances, who unfortunately did not show up, but according to I. is doing very well.

Nearby Kallisti had her place, but we won’t see any more photos of her in the future – but for a happy reason for her!

I’m sure you remember the “narrow shirt” – here’s a picture from the fall of 2020:

 

Near their feeding site, an Athens couple has their summer home. They also fed the cats there, fell in love with the delicate creature and adopted her last fall. Kallisti has thus found her forever home!

On the property of another friendly couple live Marina, Faya and Jinx, when the latter is not being cared for by H. & I. again because of dental problems, as is the case right now.

 

One-eyed Arni with her interesting coat pattern:

 

Nearby also live Negra and Ghost, who, however, lived up to his name, so that I myself unfortunately can not contribute a photo of him. But H. & I. provided one.

 

Aberforth, who was picked up as an emergency in January of this year, has turned into a magnificent cat!

 

Giasou, Nephele, Nia and Allat live together with him. Nephele and Nia are an inseparable pair, which you can only tell apart by Nia’s somewhat bushier tail.

 

At the other end of the village we find Cara, Kiarga and Hellmuth.

 

H. & I. also asked me to pick up a couple of cats and take them to the vet for neutering, since they couldn’t do it now due to their seasonal work. However, they would still need to catch the cats and would then let me know in the late afternoon when I could come back to pick them up.

I used the time until then to visit another local who lives in a neighboring town and had some of our cats neutered as well as taking cats to the vet himself. Of this and of his acquaintance I report in the next chapter.

While I. was preparing the “cat collection” I was to take with me, I saw a few more cats in her house:

Yve, who was doing a bit better at that time, but unfortunately had to leave us three weeks later…

 

In and around the house also live:

 

Nasos still has to wear a collar every now and then for safety’s sake after his extensive and lengthy eye treatment. He sits in the box only so I could see him; he himself was rather reluctant to do so.

More or less voluntarily Alina shows her bikini figure.

 

At the end of this section a few more photos from H. & I. of cats we didn’t see on our tour, because they have their home in more distant places:

With six cats in my luggage, which are to travel to the vet first thing in the morning the next day, I started on my way home in the evening, full of many impressions of very well cared for strays and two over the top committed animal welfare activists.


Chapter 5: Mixed emotions, a new king and the second travel cat.

Here I jump back and forth between yesterday, today and tomorrow in retrospect. On the one hand, there was another visit between yesterday’s photo safari and cat transport, and on the other hand, both still had an impact on today and also tomorrow.

Already planning the trip, I arranged to meet with local “G. III” to see how his cats were doing, some of which had been neutered by us.

Since I had plenty of time between the photo safari and picking up the cats to be neutered, and G. III lives not far from H. & I., this was the appropriate time. And yes, with an early afternoon visit time, I was also speculating on being invited back to lunch by him and his parents…

What can I say – the bill worked out very tasty!

In the end I spent beaten three hours with this hospitable family, we literally chatted about God and the world, and I learned quite a bit about the living conditions and views of the Greeks. We did not leave out even rather delicate topics like the financial crisis of 2009, the influence of the Troika at that time and the role of Germany in it! Remarkably, the cuts that were imposed on Greece “from the outside” at that time, are seen today in their results by the majority positively.

Other interesting topics (besides cats, of course) were prevention of money laundering, Mediterranean plants, income tax and tax offices, the Greek animal welfare law, our foreign minister, who is very popular in Greece since she became quite outspoken with the Turkish president, and some more – a colorful mix of daily life in our countries.

On camera, I got to see only these of our cats:

 

G. III tells us that Chico, Felis, Georgi, Helia, Holly, Nele, Refur and Rico are doing well. In the summer there are also some houses more inhabited there, and there all like to stroll around somewhere else.

When I visited, we got to talking about his acquaintance who contacted us some time ago and asked for help with neutering. Here I have to elaborate a bit, as there was still information at that time that we first had to process for ourselves and could now clarify with G. III’s help.

We kept getting photos for a while after the spay/neuter operation, which we showed on the forums at the time. But then she wrote that Johnny and Rajah were very bad, she took them both to the vet, but they could not be helped, but both died immediately after.

This was a shock to all of us, and we tried to find out more. There was the suspicion that with her cat epidemic went around. Unfortunately, we do not know exactly, the veterinarian expressed the diagnosis only on the basis of the symptoms. Laboratory tests were not performed for confirmation.

Never the less, we wrote back to her what we thought should be done now for safety’s sake. Among other things, of course, that she should separate her cats as soon as possible, examine them at the vet and have the healthy ones vaccinated against disease. She thanked me for the information and promised to take care.

Then the contact broke off. We didn’t write about it in the forums until now, as we were hoping to hear something more about what she was doing and how the cats were doing in the meantime.

Since we didn’t hear anything more, I naturally asked G. III about his acquaintance and her cats. He didn’t know anything new either, unfortunately, but immediately tried to contact her.

The following day, she got back to me. With a rather curt reply that none of her remaining 21 cats had died since then, and she had not had them vaccinated. Also, she has now been in Athens for several months, but the cats are being cared for by family members.

It is sometimes frustrating for us to get so sluggish and so little information, because we simply also could not and can not really help through this. That no other cat died, we are of course very happy, but then speaks rather against the very contagious cat epidemic. But what was it then? And why was not vaccinated, as recommended and offered by us?

The whole communication respectively the information flow, which works well with other locals, we would have wished better in that case.

Why it all went the way it did is difficult to judge (and we don’t want to condemn it). We must not forget that the demands and knowledge that exist in animal welfare are far from being so widespread in the general public. After all, she was already to the point of having her animals neutered. Still, an uneasy feeling remains.

At least we can enjoy recent photos of the remaining neutered cats:

 

Johnny and Radscha stay in our minds.

After my visit to G III, I still had some time before picking up the spay/neuter cats from H. & I decided to take a short drive into the port city and see if I could run into anyone here and there at the feeding sites I knew.

But first I looked for something else.

You may recall that G III was the one who, along with a teacher and his students, built cat houses as shelters and put them up around town.

I asked him about it, too, of course. Yes, they still exist, but are put up only in the cold season. Only one little house stands permanently right in a central spot, and that’s what it looks like when kids want to make cats comfortable – a small, colorful sign of hope that youth will have a different view of animals than the generations before them.

 

On the way to one of the hidden feeding places that H. & I. take care of there, I passed the second official place in town with the sign we initiated. The other one is right by the cat house just shown.

 

It was still too early for cats to show up at restaurants or public places, so I purposely sought out a less frequented feeding site and found what I was looking for. Schmuddelkatz and two of her friends let themselves be lured with the clatter of food cans.

 

Despite the exhausting photo safari, I naturally also made my rounds at our ancestral feeding sites:

Feeding site 3

Here was confirmation of something that had been foreshadowed in the first few days.

At this feeding site, tomcat Socrates has been king since his emergence sometime in 2018. While very gracious to his subjects, he insisted on being the first to eat. And if a cheeky pelt-nose thought to join too early, it gave one behind the ears. Mostly it caught Timos.

Socrates was also the one who always met me on every trip at least from the second day on, greeted me (or better: the food cans) and led me to the feeding place, so that I wouldn’t get lost on these five meters and disappear again without giving me food, for example!

Well, Socrates has been in Germany since April and his royal throne was empty.

But only briefly, and since then King Timos I has been ruling his feeding site.

Timos now picks me up at the car:

 

Timos eats first and allows Amelie to be by his side:

 

Miss Meier and Grigio dine a little away from the king.

 

What touches me especially – Amelie, who appeared there in the summer of 2020 and was so shy until the last trip, lets herself be petted!

 

Feeding site 1

Here the group has grown again over the days. Among them two unneutered male cats (far left and down lying against the wall), which I could still catch to the crowning conclusion of a long day. The second one was especially close to my heart since I saw him – he absolutely needs an operation on his right eye!

 

So that’s what it looked like in the evening at my vacation home. How I would accommodate 5 large boxes and a long trap in a tiny Toyota Aygo, I wanted to think about only tomorrow morning.

 

Now another one of the little time jumps of this chapter – to the day after:

The first way led, after feeding of course, directly to the vet (yes, somehow I accommodated boxes and trap and also fit myself into the little wagon).

Neutered were the two male cats I caught, now named Kalinero and Ileas. Ileas’ right eye, or what was left of it, was removed and the eye socket was sutured.

 

Of the four cats that H. & I gave me, three were neutered: Male Yuugi and the two girls Berlina and Gardi. One-eyed Pirry, the fourth, was already neutered in the summer of 2020. She came with me to the vet because of dental problems.

 

Ileas I left for observation still with the veterinarian. Even though we don’t release the newly neutered cats until the next day, I felt that was too risky for a male cat that had an eye removed. After all, it’s often the case that neutered cats don’t show their faces for a while at first, and if the eye doesn’t heal without a problem, I don’t get to see it and Ileas doesn’t get caught.

Although I will be leaving in three days, A. (2) agreed to pick up Ileas from the vet. So Ileas moved into a stainless steel apartment and I could leave without him with a clear conscience.

 

I went right back to H. & I. to trade the four freshly treated for a travel hangover.

This tomcat would certainly have ended up on our list of travel candidates sooner or later, as he is blind from birth and also suffered badly from his eyes. However, he had the great fortune that he already found adopters and thus would not occupy any of our foster homes for other emergencies when he left for Germany.

So with a happy heart I could grant the little sunshine Gioiello first a stay in the vacation home and then a trip to Germany!

This is how he still looked at the end of June:

 

Thanks to the loving care of H. & I., his eyes are now completely swollen shut, so he can travel and a veterinarian in Germany can take care of everything else.

But first he explores everything curiously, and as H. & I. laughingly told me, Gioiello loves chicken more than anything.

A fine thing when the traveler is served a small menu with a chicken leg for refreshment!

 

The little one then moved into his quarters in the bathroom. Not particularly comfortable, but because of the still missing Giardientest also here a pure precautionary measure, because the room next to the kitchen was already occupied again – but more of that in one of the next chapters.

 

Finally, this time I’m not showing landscapes, but something from the series “Why Men Die Earlier.” – namely the episode “Trying to hold on to the sofa while it’s being taken from the third floor by a high-bay forklift.”


Chapter 6: The cottage fills up – the third travel cat moves in.

Enough of the time jumps of the last chapter, I now continue my report chronologically.

Today’s schedule included 3 neutering cats from our friend S. and the moving in of the third travel cat in my travel home.

As always, however, breakfast is served first for our furry charges.

Feeding site 1

Here too, like Timos at the other feeding site, they no longer wait carefully, but have long since become accustomed to the traveler. Emely Medea and Atum besiege me immediately after my arrival.

 

Medea, Atum, a black newcomer, Plato and Emely gather at the breakfast table. Marie then joins them at some point.

 

A small but well-fed newcomer gets his meal served separately by me, so he can eat in peace before the big ones.

 

Since he has put away his castration yesterday well, I let Kalinero now also free. I do not have to ask him long, but he immediately takes the legs in the paws and seeks first of all the distance.

 

Feeding site 3

Timos takes his royal duties seriously and comes to meet me, of course, so that his little people are lavished. The people, that is, Miss Meier and Grigio pass the time meanwhile with affectionate dalliance or poses.

 

Amelie is furry contentment – full and relaxed, she will now spend the day somewhere.

 

I didn’t have time to doze, but drove to S. to pick up the promised neutered cats.

Kalea and Yuki were already done with breakfast and enjoyed with me the beautiful view you have from there. Tebetan, meanwhile, was guarding the passengers already waiting for me.

 

Into a calmer life, free from constant kitten litters, these three cats can now look:

 

Late in the afternoon I had an appointment with A. (2) at feeding site 2 to pick up the third travel cat. But before that the usual feeding tour with the by now usual pictures.

At feeding site 1 a group picture with Atum, Medea, Emely, Mirion as well as the new black male. In addition the little one, to whom I reserved again an extra place to eat.

 

Feeding site 3

A king does not always have to wear a purple coat, a shiny black is at least as dignified!

 
 

Nearby is the place where Gretel lives.

 

But now on to feeding site 2!

Here Tiffy and Scotty greeted me. Picked up at feeding site 1 with a broken and crooked leg, Lady, who had surgery in Athens, has now found a quiet place to stay with A. (2) in the house for the time being and is recovering nicely!

 

Eva was also there.

 

Here, too, as in the photo in the first chapter, you can clearly see the years of her life as a stray. And this was exactly the reason for my appointment with A. (2). Eva is a calm and friendly cat, but one more person she knows and trusts is very helpful when it comes to putting a traveling cat in her box.

 

Yes, that’s right! Eva is to leave for Germany! We kept thinking of giving Eva another quiet life in a proper home. She is plagued by perpetual cat cold, which we were able to contain with antibiotics on each trip, but it kept coming back and always a little stronger. But each time there were major emergencies that had to get her plane ticket, and each time we worried anew whether we would see her again.

Now the time had finally come when we could offer her that chance!

In the vacation home, she moved into the nursery not normally used by me. She seems like she can’t wait for her big trip, so she prefers to go to the box too early rather than too late!

 

A look that speaks volumes of a long, deprived stray life …

 

Eva was always cautious in her few days with me, but she came up to me on her own, seeking closeness and attention, and let me put her in the box with no problem.

The other two travel candidates were equally peaceful roommates.

Rossato is simply enjoying the peace and quiet he finally has.

 

Gioiello is of course much more curious and just a sunshine!

 

But now let’s take a small leap backwards in time.

In the fifth chapter I mentioned in passing that Gioiello was accommodated in the bathroom because of the missing Giardia test, since the room next to the kitchen that was otherwise intended for this purpose was already occupied.

Hedwig had been sitting there for almost two days.

At the end of April, we showed the following photo and wrote: “This snow-white pirate comes from feeding site 3. The eye does not need treatment at the moment, but our helpers on site are of course keeping an eye on it.”

 

Unfortunately, her eye condition deteriorated massively and she needs urgent treatment.

She has not appeared daily since then, and all attempts by the Greeks to get hold of her have so far been unsuccessful. During my journey, however, she came by more often again. Twice daily feeding is probably too tempting after all.

A. (2) and I tried to catch her one evening. Unfortunately, Hedwig is exceedingly shy and cautious. Luring her into a box or trap was futile. I therefore grabbed my landing net, which has already served me well several times, most recently on Rhodes at the Admiral.

Nevertheless, the project turned out to be extremely difficult. Hedwig had to somehow get onto the wall to feed so that she could sit reasonably freely. Unfortunately it was quite windy, so the dustbin lids rattled loudly, and the car and moped traffic did the rest, so she kept jumping into the bushes, annoyed. I then had to climb over the wall each time, fight my way between thickets and scattered rubbish to get around Hedwig in a wide arc and then herd her back onto the wall.

If she then sat on top again, I had to stumble back the distance and try to sneak up on her quietly between the bins. A. (2) meanwhile did her best to distract Hedwig by throwing treats and purring “pspsps”.

We almost had it, the landing net hovering just a whisker’s breadth above Hedwig, she looked distractedly at A. (2), …

… a car sped past us, and the village youth sitting in it hooted from the open windows at the exact moment they were right beside me.

Hedwig shot into the undergrowth at the speed of light. An hour of lurking in the blazing sun, sneaking up, standing still, luring the cat and shooing it in front of me had passed in vain! And I was witness to a minute-long torrent of swearing, with which A. (2), with a southern temperament and swearing like a beer coachman, shouted the most violent imprecations at the car as it sped away.

Apart from a tiny basic vocabulary, I don’t speak Greek. But I understood it fluently and added the extremely popular word malákas to my limited knowledge of the language. If you don’t know it, please find out its meaning for yourself.

But all the scolding didn’t help, for today every chance was lost, because Hedwig remained missing, and whether she would show up again on the following days seemed questionable.

However, the daily feed was probably still attractive, because the next evening Hedwig came to the table on time again, it was no longer windy and there was less traffic due to the beginning of the weekend. To cut a long story short – after not even ten minutes Hedwig found herself in a box and shortly afterwards in the holiday flat in the room in question:

 

Her eyes were almost completely swollen shut by now. A simple eye treatment or even an eye removal from an otherwise healthy and dry eye socket like Ileas’ would be perfectly feasible at the island vet. But here the conditions were far worse.

Normally, such a cat would be a candidate for travel. But getting her ready to travel in time was not possible. It turned out that Hedwig was not only shy and cautious.

In the holiday flat I could stroke her gently, but in doing so every fibre of her body was tense and defensive.

All attempts to get her into a box with the usual tricks or even to try to restrain her with gloves ended with a desperate escape attempt or attack on her part. So I might get her into a box again, but she would be unmanageable at the airport security check. Besides, she would have had to see the vet beforehand for the not-so-unexpensive travel arrangements.

There was therefore no chance of her leaving the country for Germany.

In passing, I learned that Murphy’s Law also applies in Greece – what can go wrong, will also go wrong there. Or in other words: if it goes, it goes! I was able to experience that literally.

During one of the attempts to see how Hedwig was behaving, she bit my finger heartily. Fortunately not in the tendons or a joint, but only in the fingertip.

And, it must be said also fortunately, it bled profusely. Therefore, I was able to flush out the germs that make cat bites so dangerous right away. I always have antibiotics, ibuprofen and disinfectant with me anyway. I was therefore able to start treatment straight away. If the finger had become thick in the next few hours, I would have made my way to the island’s capital. There is the only larger health centre there. But that wasn’t necessary after all, none of the symptoms typical of cat bites showed up.

Now, however, to Murphy.

After I had patched myself up, I actually wanted to take a shower (the whole thing happened, after all, right after I got up during my breakfast check-up look in the cat room).

When I came into the bathroom, Gioiello complained loudly about the damp floor – and rightly so!

It was dripping from the ceiling lamp.

 

Luckily not directly onto the floor, but into the sink. But a few splashes did make it over the edge (nothing would have happened to Gioiello, there is a drain in the floor).

Having been a guest in this holiday flat many times, I knew that there was a small chamber directly above the bathroom where the hot water tank had its place.

So, due to the lack of a ladder, I quickly pushed up a somewhat wobbly shelf, climbed onto it, opened the door to the chamber and peered inside.

At first glance, the cause was clear: the inlet hose had burst, water was gushing happily from the crack, flooding the floor of the chamber and gradually seeping through the ceiling.

 

Luckily, it wasn’t until after the shut-off valve, so I crawled into the cubbyhole and was at least able to turn off the water.

And now I stood there – sweaty, dirty and covered in blood. Without water. Seven in the morning in Greece.

After a brief moment of confusion, however, I remembered that it was only the warm water. The cold one was supposed to go straight through, wasn’t it? And so it was, and anyone familiar with Greece and the main water pipes running in the sunny open air can guess that the cold water was rather well-tempered.

So quickly tell the landlady and take a “cold” shower until further notice. (The hose was replaced the same day, by the way.)

But back to Hedwig.

By the way, Wikipedia thinks that the name comes from Old High German (Haduwig) and is composed of hadu, “the fight, the battle” and wig, “wrestling, the fight, the war”.

Nomen est omen…

Lavinia and I discussed for a long time how we could still help Hedwig. Leaving the country was unrealistic, the island vet’s options for treatment would be too limited. But simply abandoning her at the feeding site again would sooner or later be the end for her in her condition.

But we always had two aces up our sleeves with H. & I.!

We decided that Hedwig could sit out the days until departure in peace in this room. Then I should somehow get her into the box again as bloodlessly as possible and take her with me on the ferry to Rafina. There the taxi driver could wait for me and take Hedwig to the Athens vet, as H. & I. usually do with their cats.

H. & I. were informed of the plan, they liked it, booked the taxi in advance and lent me one of their Athens-tested cat boxes. I also informed the vet and she promised to take care of Hedwig immediately.

Finally, another episode from: “Why Men Die Earlier.”

(No, the experience I have just described is not one of them).

Today’s episode is: “Just clamp the pallet truck to the tail lift and hope it doesn’t fall on your head when you open the tail lift.”

 

Chapter 7: An old promise is fulfilled.

The following and last chapter of the travelogue will once again be filled with photos as well as with a promise we made a long time ago that we were finally able to keep.

The trip is nearing its end, with travel preparations and final visits to the feeding sites in the offing.

Gioiello was allowed to explore the hallway outside the bathroom, as his Giardia test was negative (as was Eva’s test, by the way). So he had a little more freedom of movement before he soon got into the travel bag, because I had booked a cabin seat for him on the plane.

 

I met up with local G. for a farewell chat in a café right by the sea.

 

He confessed very freely that he used to belong to the faction of the opponents of castration, but equally saw the misery that resulted from it. As we know, he changed his mind some time ago. But not only that. He also tries to convince his neighbours and acquaintances of the sense of neutering. Again a nice proof of what continuous animal welfare work can achieve!

He then sent me some recent photos of Frixos, the first neutered male on this trip.

 

But now it was time for a last round trip to the feeding sites…

Feeding site 1

Medea and Platon.

 

Full and lazy, our Andros cats lie around and wink a “goodbye” at me.

Medea and Mirion.

 

On the wall Emely and the black newcomer, in the meadow Atum, Medea, Mirion and at the very back Plato.

 

Goodbye… But at some point old acquaintances stay away. For example, I didn’t see Lars-Ole, but A. (2) said that he is not always there and is definitely absent for longer periods. I hope she is right. We have been missing Thorin for about a year, and I last saw Hyazinth on my previous trip in October 2021.

In most cases, we do not know what happened to them. But we do know that as long as they are there, they are among the few lucky strays who can be watched, well cared for thanks to your donations, and given medical attention in case of emergency!

For myself, I am holding on to a tiny hope that I have for Hyacinth and that may apply to others as well.

As I said, I saw him last October. But our meeting was very strange. Until then, he was a constant guest at the feeding site and always in the middle. But at that time he crossed my path apart from me. He was very good-looking and didn’t seem to be very interested in following me to get food. He then came by more often in the days that followed, but I had the impression that the feeding site was no longer the centre of his life.

What I also noticed on this trip, in contrast to the previous ones, is that there are of course not only cats living at the feeding sites in the village, but also among the locals themselves. But they look better than before, and there are food dishes here and there where I didn’t see any before.

Maybe Hyacinth was looking for a home somewhere last autumn and someone took a liking to this handsome and friendly cat. And maybe Thorin found a quiet place too. Possibly just a foolish little wish on my part, but it makes this uncertainty a little more bearable.

Feeding site 2

Here I arrived at an inappropriate time and therefore only saw Amy I and Scotty.

 

Private feeding site at S.

In exchange, there was a bigger crowd at S. and some previously unphotographed cats.

To begin with, two of your favourite hidden object pictures. This time I’ll spare myself the labelling – they’ll all still be in the picture individually.

 

And now “en détail”:

 

Rubini is somehow very present…

 

Finally, the three neutered cats at S.’s, whose surgical scars are all healing well:

 

And another little hidden object with Athina, Rubini, Mina and Lucifer.

 

Feeding site 3

Miss Meier and Grigio.

 

King Timos accompanies me a little way along the wall.

 

Then it’s time to say goodbye to our lovable strays again, as long as I want to delay this moment.

But I don’t have much time to think about it. Suitcases and backpacks have to be packed, I want to hand over the holiday flat in a tidy condition, …

… Rossato takes another sip, …

 

… and I manage to compliment Hedwig into the box without any injuries to either party.

 

Finally, the preparations for the return journey are complete and all the travelling cats are sitting in their boxes.

All the travel cats?

No!

In the fourth chapter I showed you a photo of Jolanda, who is blind and lives with H. & I.

Our long-given promise is about her.

Jolanda spent all her time in the “blind room” that the two had set up. A rather quiet and reserved cat. H. & I. asked us already then if we could offer Jolanda a future in Germany.

We could certainly assure her of that, but we couldn’t say when that would be. Again and again she came on our travel list, but again and again she had to give up her place for bigger emergencies. What we found very distressing was the fact that, due to corona, there were hardly any seats available for animals on the plane, although I booked my flights months in advance and tried again and again to book a ticket later, even during the journeys. This alone prevented us from making full use of our capacities 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.

This time, however, luck was with us. I managed to get hold of a fourth cat flight ticket, bought a flight-ready box on the penultimate day and ambushed H. & I. with the joyful news that I would be stopping by their place briefly on my departure the following day. Not only to say goodbye to them again, but to finally take Jolanda with me.

I’m sure you can imagine their surprise and delight! At the photo safari a few days before, I didn’t know myself that our promise would come true!

Of course it was a gamble to take a cat with me without being able to observe and get to know her for a few days in the holiday flat. But I always saw her during my visits, and she also readily allowed me to touch her.

Lavinia and I therefore agreed that Jolanda’s future prospects were worth this gamble. Thus, the fourth travel cat was now also fixed.

H. & I. were overjoyed and wrote down Jolanda’s story for us:

“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 support if he needed help with the blind cat. She never got an answer.

A few weeks later, on a rainy afternoon, on our way back from the feeding sites, we saw a cat on the side of the main road. From the way it walked and held 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 realised it was the one we had seen on Facebook. We did everything necessary and within 10 days the cat was a completely different animal. When she was neutered, you named her ‘Jolanda’.

We saved them the first time and now you will do it a second time!”

Now the small car was finally full to the roof with suitcase, backpack, five cats and me. But on the last few kilometres to the ferry, there were really no more cats or other surprises.

The ferry arrived on time.

 

It was the same as on the outward journey. True, there the manoeuvring until all the vehicles from mopeds to 40-ton trucks found their place was a noisy and smelly affair. But the deck itself, on the level where cars parked, had the generous openings in the ship’s side visible in the photo above the lettering, so the crossing was rather quiet and airy.

I could have actually left the boxes in the car there with the windows open.

If there hadn’t been a vehicle deck hidden not above but one floor below behind the lettering. Without openings or any other ventilation except for the few minutes when the tailboard was open. And that’s exactly where everyone who cast off from Andros was stuffed in.

Luckily I was parked at the very front and not in the middle, and the ferry people were kind enough to let me move forward another two metres. So I got the doors open far enough to get the boxes out. Then twice running through the ship from the very bottom to the very top and finally, finally we could all stretch our legs and enjoy a quiet crossing!

 

When the ferry docked in Rafina, I only had to get from the passenger deck down to the vehicle deck with five cats. So again, twice the way through the ship. But Rafina is the last port the ferry called at, having previously picked up passengers on Mykonos, Tinos and Andros. So the ship was packed and everyone was queuing at the one staircase.

How could I have swum against that tide the second time?

Not at all!

The ferry people were again so considerate that I was allowed to use the minutes when the escalator was first opened only for infirm or disabled passengers. Only after all the special cases, including me and my tour group, had left the passenger deck without an accident, did the ferry crew open the floodgates to the onrushing crowds.

The taxi driver for Hedwig was already waiting at the quay. I already knew him from a previous crossing, so Hedwig could routinely change and travel on to the vet.

I made the short journey with my travel cats to the accommodation already booked on the outward journey and enjoyed the evening view of mainland Greece.

 

All four were allowed out of their boxes one after the other for a while to eat a few snacks and at least to be cuddled a little. I gave Jolanda a little more time, because she literally came out of the frying pan into the fire and didn’t know what was happening to her. But she took it all in her stride!

 

The night was accordingly short and after only a few hours I was on my way to the airport again with my travel companions. But there, too, everything went smoothly. The flight was on time and the chaos at Berlin airport was less bad than I had feared, so that my Athens travelling party found itself unharmed on a Berlin luggage trolley.

 

The occupants themselves, however, found it rather mediocre.

 

Gioiello’s adopters were already waiting at the airport. He went straight to his new home. Eva and Jolanda travelled with him, as their foster homes were on the way, and Rossato was driven by me to his foster home.

Then, finally, I was home again. Three and a half weeks of Greece lay behind me – with unexpected cat adventures on a family holiday in Rhodes as well as familiar places and faces and many new impressions on Andros.

A colourful, exciting, also emotionally exhausting mixture of beautiful, hopeful, but also thought-provoking experiences, which came at me in dense succession in a short time.

So, actually, a very normal Andros trip…

 

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