When I think of Greece there are three things that spring to mind. Sun, Sea and Cats. Skiathos, like most Greek islands, has a big issue with stray cats. The problem is that cats, left to their own devices, will breed and soon they will over run an area, resulting in starvation and illness. However, In 2007 Sharon Hewing wanted to put an end to the feline suffering so set up The Skiathos Cat Welfare Association, registered charity number 2177/2011
What does The SCWA do?
The simple answer to this question is they save cats lives and improve their quality of life. The SCWA currently have more than 300 cats in its care, many at their site in Skiathos Town but also at feeding stations all over Skiathos. They look to provide all cats in need with food, water and health care. However, this is only part of the problem. If the cats are left to breed as they were prior to the SCWA, then the problem would only get worse. The association also pay for, or arrange, for homeless cats to be neutered to stop more cats being subjected the hardship of starvation.
On top of this, Skiathos Cats also care for the sick and injured cats of the island. Since they started over 400 injured cats have been treated and nursed back to health. For example the cat to the left was a regular at one of the feeding stations. For a few days he was nowhere to be seen, when he did come back he was in distress after falling victim to a snake bite. He was taken back to the centre and treated. He made a full recovery. The SCWA also provides worming, flea and tick treatments for the cats in their protection.
The thing that pulls on my heart strings the most though is a quick look at their Facebook wall. It tells the same story time and time again of kittens being abandoned, often tied up in bags and dumped. Back in 2014 two tourist from the UK heard cries coming from a bin. When they investigated, they found two kittens that had been left to die. They stayed up all night to look after the kittens and took them into the centre the next day. Unfortunately, one of them didn’t make it, but because this concerned young couple sacrificed a little bit of time, the other received the treatment it needed, milk love and attention. The little warrior, made a full recovery.
How is the Association Funded?
Since 2011 the Skiathos Cat Welfare Association has been a registered charity. They 100% reliant on donations of food, tablets, time and money. Food donations can be made by dropping it off at the centre in Skiathos town, at food donation boxes located at many of the supermarkets across the island or online at their food donation store. Worming tablets can be posted to the address that can be found on their website. If you wanted to donate money you can at their collection boxes scattered over the island or again on the website. Just today I read a story of a couple who have been visiting the island for years dropping off a cheque or 1340 Euros that they raised in Devon on a sponsored dog walk.
Many visitors to the island will donate their time to SCWA. Holidaying vets who have visited the island have given up part of their holiday to help treat the sick of injured cats in need of attention. Even you are not a vet you can get involved by giving up a little of your time to help the care of the 300+ cats that are in need of love, attention and nourishment. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the challenge facing the team, around 210 kg of dry food and 130 tins of food is needed each week to feed the animals in their protection. This would cost in excess of £500 (700 Euros) per week just on food, before the vet bills for treatments and neutering.
If you wish to get involved you can find out all the information you need at http://www.skiathos-cats.org. I really hope, if nothing else, you can find it in you to donate a little bit of food of drop a few euros in the collection box so that Sharon, Julie and the rest of the team can carry on the fantastic job they do with the Cats of Skiathos. It is worth remembering though that the amazing work done is made harder by the winter season in Skiathos. That is when your help is even more important.
Please follow the Skiathos Cat Welfare Association on Facebook to see the spectacular difference they make to the lives of cats al of the island. I am sure it will touch your heart too.