Symi Animal Welfare News - Page 1

Winter Report

Posted 14th February 2018

Greetings to all our friends and supporters.


A welcome treat of fresh fish for the Pitini cats

On Symi this winter has been quite a challenge for many of the island residents and for the street cat population too!

In November we had a terrible storm followed by the flood which, sadly, some of the less fortunate feral cats did not survive. It was an awful event, like no other ever seen before on the island. SAW were alerted to several abandoned kittens which have been fostered by one of our team.

December brought strong winds and freezing temperatures. Then in January the island was inundated with more days of rain! But, despite all these conditions our volunteers continued to feed the street cats at their various feeding stations. Well done to you all!

Regarding our annual Winter Feed programme, we would like to thank our suppliers, Xatzipetros Supermarket in Yialo, Sotiris Supermarket in Chorio, and Valandis Feed Merchant at Lower Kampos for their efficiency in dealing with our large order of cat biscuits and for helping us with distributing the sacks of feed too!

The total cost of the winter feed programme was over 600 Euros and our suppliers have now all been paid. We would also like to thank all our team of volunteers who give their time to make sure our street cats have enough food to keep them going through the colder months. We would also like to remind everyone who feeds cats that they also need a supply of fresh water which is a bit easier in the winter if the container used is replenished by rain water!


Water is always important

During these winter months the island's cats will always appreciate a dry place to shelter from cold winds and rain So, it really doesn’t take much in the way of DIY skills to make a cat box that will keep them warm and dry. On the subject of visiting vets, we are very fortunate to have two vets from Rodos who are on the island every two weeks now, at the Pet Island shop in Yialo.

In 2018 we look forward to the possibility of a small vet surgery becoming a reality here, but it’s still at the planning stage at the time of this report. Finally we would like to say a huge thank you to all our loyal supporters who make it possible for us to continue to care for the street cats of Symi!

Best wishes to you all! We look forward to seeing you again this summer, from Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel & Tove.

Autumn Report

Posted 5th November 2017

Cats sunbathing

On Symi, the sunny warm days of October are over and we welcome the rain, which has come at last and is much needed on our dry island! The street cats seek shelter wherever they can find any. As we all know, cats don’t like to get wet!

Kitten Kitten

Now that most of the visitors are gone and only a few tavernas remain open the stray cats usually go back to the local rubbish bins in their area in search of any food they may find.

The good news for our island cats is that the Winter Feed Programme has already been organised.

The orders for the sacks of dry feed is with our suppliers now, so before mid November the teams of volunteers will be feeding the cats at the allocated feeding stations in Yialo, Chorio, Pedi, Nimborio and in the mountains at Kato Meria.

This year SAW will be providing cat biscuits only, in accordance with veterinary advice and this will allow us to spend more of our annual budget on the cat neutering programme. We will also be asking our volunteers to make sure there is a supply of fresh water for the cats near to the feeding station as this is always important, winter and summer.

Kitten Kitten

At this time of the year we know that there are lots of young cats around, the ’summer born’ kittens, who must now learn to fend for themselves and find shelter too when the cold weather arrives.

In recent weeks we have been frequently asked about such kittens via our web-site by kind visitors who had been feeding them near to their tourist accommodation.

At SAW, we do try to follow up on all the reports we receive but we find that these young street cats quickly adapt to the fact that the visitors have gone and they re-locate to an area near the bins which will become a feeding station for all the cats in that area.

Kitten Kitten

You may have read on FaceBook recently the story of the little stray dog Billy, who had an accident and was treated in Rodos by our 'island vet', Panayiotis Margies. My colleague Antonella put some really nice posts and photos on the network to keep everyone up to date with his progress and we are happy to say that Billy is now back here on Symi and being cared for by Josie and Jordan for the next month. Billy is a sweet affectionate little dog and deserves to find a forever home on Symi with a caring person.


SAW would like to thank all those very kind and generous people who donated towards his veterinary treatment and after care (210 Euros was raised in total) and SAW will contribute towards his welfare until he is fully recovered.

Regarding the SAW collection boxes, we are pleased to announce that the Sunrise Cafeneion box donation total was 240.00 Euros and The Olive Tree total was 80.00 Euros. (both in Chorio) while at The Symi Silver shop in Yialo the total was 73.00 Euros!

We would like to thank all those kind hearted people who contributed to our cause, your generosity will ensure that we can continue with our work to help the less fortunate animals of Symi.

We send our best regards to everyone and as they say here Kalo Ximonas! Have a good winter! from the SAW team, Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel and Tove.

Summer Report

Posted 2nd August 2017

On Symi the high temperatures have been with us for 2 months now and most of our felines prefer to seek shade during the day, except for the usual cats who frequent the port tavernas at lunch time, looking for kind tourists to give them some tasty morsels.

More of the island's street cats venture out after dark, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures in the evenings and go in search of something to eat.

While food is more plentiful during the summer months, we always remind our residents and visitors that water is so important for all the island cats and that the best way to help them is to provide a container of clean fresh water on a daily basis, in a shady spot perhaps near to any rubbish bins and you will see how many cats come just for a drink every evening.

Recently we have had some reports of 'abandoned' kittens, which often happens at this time of the year and we do advise that they are left where found as usually the mother cat will return to her litter and she knows where she left them!

We are a small team, but we will always try to help where we can, especially if the kittens have been deliberately left near or in the bins, (yes, sadly it happens) and we will try to find foster homes for them until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

There is no animal shelter on Symi, and our resources are limited and all of us on the team have acted as 'foster mums' to many tiny kittens over the years. If we have reports of a sick or injured cat we will go to see if we can catch it first, only then can it be treated and helped to recover from its aliment. Wild or feral cats can be very wary and extremely difficult to capture even when tempted by a tin of tasty sardines!

As always, from the start of the season we have received via our SAW website quite a few emails and this year more have been on the subject of dogs. Visitors have reported that they have seen dogs kept on a chain. They have told us of dogs who are thin, or not in good condition or that there wasn't any food/water visible etc. We do know about most of these dogs, we know who owns them and, if we don't we can easily find out, but the most we can do is to speak with the owners and alert them to the fact that their dog has been seen by visitors and that its situation could be a cause for concern. Where we think the dog should be seen by a vet, then we will advise the owner accordingly. As there is a vet who visits from Rodos every four weeks, it is then up to the owner to take the dog for treatment or a check up.

We are not the RSPCA and unfortunately we cannot do more for any dog who is kept outside, as a guard dog, or a farm dog, and is not a family pet! On a more positive note, many young island people now own dogs as pets, they love them, and do take good care of them, so attitudes are slowly changing.

We are pleased to report that our Rhodian vet often has a very busy time on his Sunday morning consultations held at 'Pet Island' shop in Yialo, so one of our projects for the future is to secure a premises that could be used for regular vet visits to Symi which would be a great advantage for all of us who care for the island animals.

If any local person has a suitable place in the Yialo area then please contact us at SAW.

Wishing all our friends and supporters a very happy summer!

Best regards from Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Tove and Hazel.

Spring Report

Posted 23rd March 2017

It's Spring time on Symi, with glorious sunny days and calm seas. The island has emerged from its usual winter 'hibernation' and the port is suddenly a hive of activity as the locals prepare for the new season. So, it was a perfect time for us to organize a vet visit, with lots of street cats now out and about in the sunshine.


A peek into the surgery

We arranged for our favourite Rodos vet to come over for a weekend, and' set up' in the house that we use at the back of the port which is in an ideal location, very quiet but with easy access. We are indeed very fortunate to have use of this private villa for the vet visits and would like to thank the owner for his generosity.

The vet, Panayiotis, was assisted by his lovely wife Maria, as the veterinary nurse and we had a very capable and enthusiastic group of helpers to assist the SAW team. There was much to be done, in only two days and both Saturday and Sunday were quite intensive!



The target was for thirty five cats, but we are pleased to report that a total of thirty eight cats were neutered, fourteen males and twenty eight females, and that two male feral cats were euthanized as they tested positive for feline HIV.

The vet brings his own equipment and drugs, but this time one process was made easier as we have acquired a new sterilization machine, kindly donated from a clinic in Germany!

Patient waiting

A patient waiting

We would like to thank all the cat 'carers' and 'catchers' who gave donations for the vet visit, and the helpers and volunteers who gave up their time to assist us.

Most of all we would like to thank Panayiotis and Maria for their tremendous hard work and dedication which made this vet visit a great success.


In recovery

A formal report on our Cat Neutering Programme has been submitted to the Greek Cat Welfare Society , with a request for funding towards future vet visits.

This summer SAW will have lots of new collection boxes in many businesses around the harbour and in Chorio. We rely entirely upon donations and all your support is very much appreciated.

We look forward to seeing many of our regular visitors again this summer on Symi, and lots of new faces too!


The next day and we are feeling fine!

Best wishes from the SAW Team, Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel and Tove.

Winter Report

Posted 12th February 2017

Greetings to all our friends and supporters!

On our small island the festive season was celebrated fairly quietly but we can be sure that the street cats did enjoy some tasty leftovers from Xmas dinners and the traditional New Year feasts!

Cat shelter Regarding our annual Winter Feed Programme, we would like to thank our suppliers, Xatzipetros Supermarket, in Yialo, Sotiris Supermarket in Chorio and Valandis Feed Merchant at Lower Kampos for their efficiency in dealing with our large order, and for helping us with distribution of the cat foods too!

The total cost of the Winter Feed Programme was 1,450 Euros and our suppliers have now all been paid. We would also like to thank all our volunteers who give their time to make sure our street cats have enough food to keep them going through the colder months.

November and December were fairly mild, but January brought lots of rain and storms. February too has seen days of drizzle and grey skies. During these winter months the island's cats have to look for some dry places to shelter in, anywhere will do when it's wet and cold.

Cat Shelter It's quite easy to provide them with ‘’home made’’ shelters, items such as an old wooden box, or a discarded small chest of drawers make ideal ‘cat houses’ and only need a little fixing to make a perfect shelter Raised off the ground out of the wet, with a plastic cover to keep it dry, and newspaper inside to make a snug, dry den for 3 or 4 cats! Your street cats will really appreciate it .

Finally we would like to say a huge thank you to all our loyal supporters whose donations make it possible for us to continue to care for the street cats of Symi!

Best wishes to you all! We look forward to seeing you again in 2107.

From Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel and Tove.

December vet visit

Posted 16th December 2016

After more than a year without any vet visit to Symi, we are very pleased to report on a recent visit by a vet from Rodos for 3 days here.

We have arranged with Panayiotis Margies a new programme, for cat neutering only, during the winter months, and we are delighted to inform all our friends and supporters that all went very well on this first visit. This was organised entirely by our small team (just 3 of us !) and only funded by SAW, with no other financial help from GAWF.

This visit was made possible due to the fact that we have been given use of a house in the port area, kindly offered to us by the German owner. Ideally situated at the back of Yialo, but with easy access from the street, most important for those bringing 'cats in boxes '!

The target area on this occasion was the port, Yialo and Harani, next time it will be the Chorio area.

Panayiotis was assisted in the surgery by his lovely new bride, Maria, who is actually a (human) nurse, and we recruited additional help from our small team of volunteers. Over the 3 days of the surgery 35 cats were neutered, 22 females and 13 males, including some feral toms from the port area! Unfortunately one male cat had to be euthanized, as it tested positive for feline 'aids'. The vet also operated on a female with a large tumour which was successfully removed.

Panayiotis and Maria worked long hours with much dedication to achieve these results, and we would like to thank them and also everyone who came to help for the 3 days at the surgery.

This type of vet visit is not part of any out-reach programme, but we hope to be able to finance it with the help of our generous supporters and will be organising another in early 2017. Well done everyone!

Finally, with the festive season soon upon us, we would like to wish all our friends and supporters a very Happy Xmas and all the best for the New Year!

From the SAW team, Suzan, Antonella, and Christina.

Autumn Report

Posted 24th July 2016

After a very long hot summer the cooler days are now most welcome on our island and the Symi cats can be seen out and about enjoying the Autumn sunshine. Now that the summer visitors are gone and most tavernas have closed the street cats usually go back to the local rubbish bins in their area in search of any leftovers and tit-bits that they may find there.

The good news for our island cats is that the Winter Feed Programme has already been organised. The orders for the tins, biscuits and pasta are with our suppliers now so before mid November the teams of volunteers will be feeding the cats at the allocated feeding stations in Yialo, Chorio, Nimborio and in the mountains at Kato Meria.

We will also be asking our volunteers to make sure there is a supply of fresh water for the cats near to the feeding station, as we are still waiting for some much needed rain!

At this time of the year we know that there are lots of young cats around, the summer kittens, who must now learn to fend for themselves and find shelter too when winter arrives.

In recent months we have been frequently asked about a vet visit to Symi, so we are very pleased to announce that we now have a property suitable for surgery use, kindly offered to us by a house owner who only spends the summer here.

Our contacts at the Cat Charity '9 Lives' are now looking to organise a vet visit for early 2017. This is excellent news indeed for all of us who care so much about the welfare of the islands' cats, and we would like to thank all our supporters for their continued generosity which makes our winter feeding programme and a future vet visit, possible. To all those kind hearted people who have made donations to SAW in 2016 a huge thank you!

We are pleased to mention that we now have a SAW collection box in the UK, on a mobile food trailer owned and run by a lovely couple, Wendy and Bob Beever, who met with me this summer on Symi and suggested the idea. The name of their trailer is "It' s all Greek to me!" and they just raised the first 100 Euros for us, fantastic! Thank you so much! We feel most fortunate to have all this support out there.

We send our best regards to everyone and as they say here, Kalo Ximonas!

Have a good winter! From the SAW team

Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel and Tove.

Summer Report

Posted 24th July 2016

On Symi the heatwave has been relentless since early June and in these high temperatures the island cats prefer to find a shady place to sleep during the day, venturing out after the sun goes down, around 8.00pm, to hunt for food in their habitual feeding places, hoping for some tasty scraps from kind tourists dining at the local tavernas, and the less fortunate cats are usually seen around the bins area in the port and the village.

Bin Cats Although food is easier to find in the summer months, the cats' appetite is often reduced by the heat, so many of them appear thin, but that's normal at this time of the year.

However, all cats need to drink, and we would like to remind all our friends and visitors that it is very easy to help the island cats by providing, in your area, a plastic container of water for them, in a shady place, and you will see how they come to enjoy a refreshing drink, and give you a thankful look!

Bin Cats

Any plastic receptacle will do, perhaps a empty ice cream or margarine container? and one of the best is the (cut off) bottom part of a 10 litre water container, that makes a really good size bowl!

Bin Cats

We would like to remind everyone that we will continue to promote and fund the feline neutering programme that we already have arranged with two vets in Rodos Any island resident who wants to take their cats over for neutering should first contact Suzan or Antonella at SAW.

Finally, as we rely entirely on donations we would like to thank all our supporters for their generous donations to SAW in 2016.

Best wishes and happy summer from the SAW Team,

Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel and Tove.

INFORMATION for residents & visitors

Posted 21st May 2016

The new tourist season has finally arrived which means that most of us are working or certainly committed to one thing or another for the next five months.

The care of our island’s animals isn’t simply a seasonal responsibility however, with limited time and manpower, may we offer you some useful information:

There is now a pet shop on Symi, located at the bottom of the Kali Strata. Michaeli the owner is extremely helpful and has built up a small stock of animal accessories and general medications including flea and worming treatments. His telephone number is 0030 22460 71469. He works in close liaison with Panayiotis Margies, a vet from Rhodes.

Panayiotis visits the island once a month, for consultations and examinations only when a small charge is made. Unfortunately, he is unable to neuter animals or perform surgical procedures as he’s only here for one day, but the fact that we have a regular vet-visit is indeed great progress.

Symi Animal Welfare continue the arrangement with another Rhodes vet Marika Ioannidou. Carers can take a cat across to her surgery on Rhodes; as long as the appointment is arranged through Suzan, the cost of neutering will be covered by Symi Animal Welfare but not ferry/taxi fares or personal expenses. Suzan’s number is 6981356421

Spring Report

Posted 12th April 2016

Bin Cats

After a very dry winter in the South Aegean, the early Spring weather has been warm and sunny so the island's feline population has fared very well during this mild winter, with so little rainfall that we have had to place water containers out for the cats near to the feeding stations to ensure that they have enough to drink with their food! I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the S.A.W. volunteers for their efforts and the time they have given to help with our winter feed programme over the last 5 months. If any new residents on the island would like to help us for next winter then please contact Suzan or Antonella, we are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers!

Bin Cats

The WFP is our highest annual expense, in November 2015 the total order for the cat food supplies cost 1,450 Euros A huge thank you to all our generous supporters from many countries whose donations make it possible for us to continue with our task of helping the Symi cats to have a better life.

We would also like to thank our dedicated team of suppliers, namely: HatzIpetros Bros. Supermarket, Yialo Sotiris Supermarket, Chorio. Valandis Animal Feed Suppliers, Kampos, Chorio.

Regarding a vet visit for this year, we are at present looking for new premises which would be suitable for this purpose. We would prefer the location to be in the port area, which is where we are searching for a property with the help of some Symi locals, as it is essential to have a place first that is approved by a vet and by the Symi Town Hall Authority before the animal charity we work with in Greece,(9 Lives) can offer us a vet visit, hopefully for the Autumn this year.

Bin Cats

We continue to have a special arrangement with one of the Rhodes vets for cat neutering and we can assist any island resident who wishes to take up this offer all they have to do is contact us first and we will set it up with the veterinary. In the Spring we know we will soon hear the patter of tiny paws so we would like to remind everyone that new kittens should not be taken from where their mother has left them, she has not abandoned her litter, and will soon return to feed her babies.

Bin Cats

Well, it will be Greek Easter soon, (or Pasxa ) which this year is the first week in May, the most important religious holiday here and, as the island gears up for another new season, everyone is busy sprucing up the place, painting and decorating, and many residents returning from a winter away. The Symi cats are looking forward to the opening of tavernas and restaurants and the arrival of the early season tourists as that means more food scraps for all our feral felines.

We hope to see many of you this year on Symi.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Greek Easter, Kalo Pasxa!

from the SAW Team, Suzan, Antonella, Tove, and Hazel.

A Tribute to Kamberis

Posted 12th April 2016


This month we are very sad to announce the passing of a very special dog. His name was Kamberis, he was our farm dog, he had been trained to work with sheep and goats, tireless and obedient, always ready and listening for that one whistle to call him into action. He knew every goat that belonged on the farm and would drive away any huge male "foreign" goats if they invaded his territory.


He was our best help on the farm and only those who own working dogs can understand how lost we feel without him. He was so gentle and caring with all the small and vulnerable, from tiny kittens to baby orphan lambs and goats and best friend to our 6 farm cats. He was our guardian and loyal friend, he is irreplaceable on our farm and in our hearts, Sadly, he died from poisoning from an unknown source. Despite veterinary advice and medicine we could not save him. His grave is on the farm, under the pine trees overlooking the Aegean Sea. He would have been 7 years old in August.


He was the best dog that we could ever own, taken from us so suddenly. We will remember him forever.


Suzan Rashid and Filimonas Tsakkiris, Filimonas' Farm, Ayios Dimitrios, Symi island, Greece.

Winter Report

Posted 14th December 2015

We send greetings from Symi island to all our friends and supporters wherever you all may be as this year draws to a close.

During the past 12 months SAW has had to deal with some changes and challenges but we are pleased to announce that all has been resolved and our team is continuing with the good work as before for the street cats of Symi.

The winter feeding programme was all organised and 'ready to roll' in November and we have 18 volunteers covering 24 feeding stations around the port area, the village, in Pedi and in the mountains of Symi, so the island's cats can look forward to 2 or 3 feeds every week to help them survive the winter months.

We are very pleased this year to have 'recruited' some more local Greek volunteers, including the island's dentist, a retired sea captain, a female employee of the Symi town hall, and a monastery caretaker who lives in a remote area and feeds 27 cats every day!

We would like to thank our suppliers, Xatzipetros Supermarket in Yialo, Sotiris Supermarket in Chorio and Valandis Animal Feed Depot in Chorio for their kind co operation with SAW and for bringing all our cat food order of tins, sacks of biscuits and pasta from Rodos and Thessaloniki.

In late 2015 we had to say goodbye to Melanie Sharp, our secretary of many years, who is now in the UK with her husband. We would like to thank her very much for all her hard work and dedication and we hope to see her and Paul return to Symi early next year.

We are pleased to inform you all that we have a new team member. Her name is Antonella Zingali, she is a Symi resident, fluent in English and Greek and is very committed to caring for the animals of the island. With her enthusiasm and new ideas, she is a most welcome addition to our small team of volunteers.

The SAW team will now consist of the following members:

Tove Kolle (Denmark) vet visit co-ordinator and host for the vet surgery at her house in upper Chorio.

Christina Stierle (Germany) medical supplies co-ordinator and first aid help in animal emergencies.

Antonella Zingali (Italy) SAW co-ordinator for emails and correspondence and reports all year round.

Suzan Rashid (UK) SAW co-ordinator for WFP, emails and correspondence, SAW reports, drugs and medical supplies and SAW accounts.

Hazel Fennelly (UK) SAW Deputy Treasurer and medical advisor.

Claudia Kolhofer (Austria) animal first aid in emergencies.

We feel that our team has a truly international flavour and between us we speak at least 7 languages!

The autumn season so far on Symi has been mild and very dry so the island's cats have been seen out and about enjoying the winter sunshine, gathering at the feeding stations, (usually located near the rubbish bins) and, as there has been hardly any rain yet, all cats really welcome a bowl of fresh water to drink. Anything that holds water will do, an empty margarine or ice cream container, which can be nailed to a lampost or tree trunk (prevents it being taken by the wind!).

Yes, we do rely on all volunteers for these tasks, awareness of animal needs is an important part of our job! We plan to do more 'monitoring' this winter of all the feeding stations and other areas. Antonella and myself will be going around in my sturdy little red jeep and on foot, to keep an eye on the Symi cats and look out for their health and welfare throughout the colder months of the year.

We continue to work with the vets of Rodos and have an arrangement with one vet for the neutering of cats which volunteers take over on the ferry. SAW provides the cat boxes and covers all costs of the surgery.

We would like to thank vet Marika Ioannou for all her expertise and for working with us to ensure a more heathly cat population on Symi.

We have recently purchased a stock of drugs and medications to renew our supplies in preparation for the months ahead.

We have requested with the "9 Lives" Charity for the possibility of a Vet Visit in April 2016 so we hope to have positive news early next year.

Finally, we rely entirely on donations and the generous support of our friends and benefactors in many countries to enable us to continue with our work to help all the street cats of Symi island.

We would like to thank everyone who has given so generously to SAW in 2015 and we wish you all a very good winter, "Kalo Ximonas" as we say in Greek, and we hope to see you all again on Symi next year!

Best wishes from Suzan and all the Symi Animal Welfare Team.

Autumn Report

Posted 6th October 2015

We would like to thank everyone who kindly made donations throughout the summer, this winter’s feeding programme has already been discussed with our usual suppliers, with such large quantities of biscuits, cans & pasta required, it is vital that we give the supermarkets ample notice.

Everything in life changes from time to time and, due to a variety of circumstances beyond our control, it is now the time when the way Symi Animal Welfare has worked over the years needs to alter too. Our treasurer has retired, our vet-visit co-ordinator has been at home in Denmark caring for her sick husband, I too am leaving for the UK shortly for an indefinite period.

Apart from fantastic commitment from our volunteers who are provided with supplies to take food to the street cats at least twice a week, the ‘team’ currently, actually consists of only 2 who are pro-active, one of those is Suzan the other me. This doesn’t mean that caring, animal-loving residents aren’t concerned about either the street cats or those who live with or around them, but aren’t involved with everything else we are called upon to do or investigate. These people will of course, continue looking after their cat-families. We have always done what we can & when we can and I’m sure, most of you will agree that generally, the cats of Symi are in ‘fine shape’?

Unless anyone else can organise & co-ordinate a visit, unfortunately there won’t be a vet-visit/neutering programme for some while. As has been the situation for a number of years, we do however have an arrangement with a vet on Rhodes. Carers can get cats to the vet, Symi Animal Welfare will cover the costs of neutering but not ferry or taxi fares. If, as residents of the island, you are genuinely concerned about the welfare and potential increase in the street-cat population, we ask that you take up this arrangement.

Suzan has already started to put a list together of feeding stations & volunteers who have helped in the past, she has contact details for them. If you haven’t been involved with the winter-feeding before but would like to help this year, please contact her directly. She too will be leaving the island during November and then again next March………………………. Symi Animal Welfare has always been supported so well by visitors, donations have continued year after year, but sadly, it will be virtually impossible to carry on without consistent & active participation of other residents?

Melanie Sharp

Glass Cats

Posted 15th July 2015

Thankyou Tove, the unusual glass cats have now all been sold at the Sunrise Kafeneion, 300 euros was raised for Symi Animal Welfare, in a very short time too.

During these last weeks with so much uncertainty & cash-flow limits, our supporters have once again shown such kindness.

Vet Situation

Posted 2nd July 2015

For some time now, one of the Rhodes’ vets has been visiting the island on a monthly basis usually on a Sunday; consultations are an extension to his private surgery so a charge is made. Without proper premises + only here for a few hours, he is limited as to what he can do - carry out general examinations before offering advice, first-aid, inoculations & very minor procedures not requiring equipment or anaesthetics, this obviously means no neutering. If pre-arranged, he has agreed to bring over medications, to be collected directly from him. Animals, particularly cats & dogs who have carers, therefore, still need to be taken to Rhodes for more thorough treatment and investigations. Unfortunately, we have limited volunteers especially during the summer months and cannot provide an animal – escort – to - Rhodes –service which means that carers have to accept responsibility themselves. We are currently trying to organise a vet-visit at the end of October and will confirm dates once we know more. As with all out-reach programmes, the vet will only be allowed to neuter cats. Thankyou for your support, Melanie & Suzan

Late Spring Report

Posted 12th May 2015

As the 2015 holiday season gets underway, we have already received emails via the website + telephone calls from a number of concerned visitors worried about certain cats near to their accommodation. Contact details for Symi Animal Welfare have been taken from one of our collection boxes which now have new labels by the way. These can be found in Yialos at – Symi Tours, Kalodoukas & Symi Visitor offices, Crystallo & Kiara Luna shops. In the village – at the Olive Tree cafe & the Sunrise Kafeneion + at the Pedi Beach hotel. If you have been to Symi before, you will know that the cats here tend to be much slimmer than those you are used to seeing in your home-town, in cooler, less dusty climates, cats tend to be fatter & fluffier. So, whilst you’re on the island, if you notice Twiggy-types with dirty-noses & covered in dust (and most street-cats fit this description!) please don’t feel too anxious, more than likely the cat isn’t sick at all, the climate here dictates the appearance. However, especially as the temperatures go up, cats can suffer from excessive thirst leading to dehydration – as well as the ‘image’ described, a cat will possibly seem lethargic & be panting so requires liquid promptly, or in really bad cases an injection. This year, we’ll be putting marked containers at shaded, safe locations in most areas & one of our volunteers will regularly check that there is fresh water inside, we hope that people don’t use them as ashtrays or rubbish-bins so that the street cats can always find a refreshing & clean drink!

Enjoy your visit to Symi, look out for our collection boxes & thankyou for your support, Melanie x

Running costs

Posted 30th March 2015

Running costs of the 2014/15 winter feeding programme were 1265 Euros, the suppliers have all now been paid. We would like to thank Hatzipetros & Sotiris supermarkets for their help with deliveries + donation of foodstuffs + Vangelis for ordering a larger than normal quantity of cat-biscuits. ‘Well Done’ to our volunteers too, weather conditions this year have been dreadful but they continued to care for the cats in their neighbourhood despite the rain, wind and bitterly cold temperatures at times. Early tourists will notice how well the street cats are looking I’m sure.

When your visit to Symi eventually comes around, look out for our blue collection boxes with a newly-designed label ( thanks to the efforts of a local resident) or if you’d prefer to make a donation before then, go onto our website.

Kalo Paska, Happy Easter, Melanie x

Early Spring Report

Posted 14th March 2015

Finally, we are seeing more sunshine than rain and the island’s cat population is ‘coming out to play’. Those which have survived the awful weather conditions of the last few months can be seen basking in the warm rays or chasing after imaginary butterflies or birds, the cats like the people have suddenly come to life once again. Most of the feeding supplies have long since gone but we ask volunteers to at least try to provide a twice-weekly meal at their feeding-station until after Easter; we are currently in the Lent period so any meat scraps are few and far between, however, pasta & biscuits are gratefully received by the bin-cats.

Slowly, restaurants & businesses are re-opening and many of the owners tend to put food out for their local cats as do returning residents. This year, we are going to ask some of the business owners to keep a water-bowl filled up near to their premises - the warmer it gets, the greater the need for available fresh drinking water is. One of our supporters who has a summer house on the island, has kindly offered to donate a number of suitably-sized plastic containers for this purpose. As you are aware, our work depends entirely upon donations so we were delighted to receive one from Australia this week. Yvette Berkeley, the volunteer vet who visited Symi at the end of last year mentioned Symi Animal Welfare to one of her surgery clients and she contacted us to find out how to make her donation. She loved our website and just how easy it is to make a donation whether large or small. We will be ordering a specialised cage, recommended by a colleague at Greek Cat Welfare, useful for both nursing & catching feral cats, paid for thanks to this generous, distance sponsor.

Tove, our vet-week co-ordinator or her husband aren’t too well at the moment, so their traditional, early Spring return to Symi has been delayed. Last November when they returned to Denmark, she took back a kitten she’d been caring for since birth – Daphne is thriving apparently in her new, flower-filled garden. Please join us in sending Tove & her husband Ib, best wishes for a speedy recovery……

Melanie, Suzan, Claudia & Hazel xxx

Symi cats on feast days

Posted 5th March 2015

Feast Cats

Feast Cats

Feast Cats

Feast Cats

Feast Cats

Feast Cats

Feast Cats


11 pussy cats sitting on a wall.....

Posted 28th January 2015


and when one frying pan goes upon the floor there'll be no cats at all sitting on the wall!!!

Three Orphans

Posted 20th January 2015


This volunteer doesn’t only have bin-cats to feed in the winter!

Better late than never

Posted 8th January 2015

A very Happy New Year to all of our friends and supporters!

Winter feeding continues as volunteers take foodstuffs to their delegated stations, despite bitterly cold weather. In certain areas, bin-cat numbers are reduced as street-wise cats relocate at the coldest time of day, to warmer locations ie under parked vehicles , on discarded blankets & rugs or abandoned boats. Most of the cats appear healthy even those born later on in the season last year. We plan to take some cats over to Rhodes for neutering during the winter, dependent on the boat schedules & weather conditions that is! Look forward to seeing you in the summer, Melanie, Suzan, Claudia, Tove & Hazel x

Vet Report

Posted 21st December 2014

November Vet Visit Kefalonia and Symi

In November I returned to Greece with my family to participate in cat neutering programmes, on the islands of Kefalonia and Symi. The programmes were sponsored by Greek Cats UK in partnership with Nine Lives Athens, KATS in Kefalonia and Symi Animal Welfare.

Both trips and de-sexing programmes were hugely successful for both islands and their feline population. In total 189 cats were neutered in 10 days, 75% of which were female. If one female has 2-3 pregnancies a year with 4-5 kittens each time, some of which will go onto to have their own kittens in that year, then de-sexing one female represents a phenomenal reduction in kittens competing for resources. Not to mention the respite it brings female cats, and the reduction in Tom cat fighting. Added up the cat population becomes healthier, happier and stronger.

On this trip, Pat and Gene in Kefalonia and Tove in Symi donated their houses as temporary surgeries. Here all the dedicated volunteers gathered to ably lend a hand each day. A range of cats from the dumpsters, colonies, supermarkets and privately owned Greek cats turned up. It is testament to the on going de-sexing and feeding programmes over many years that most cats arriving were healthy. Our visit ‘s timing was also just at the end of the tourist season, so many of the cats had come off a good season of tourist feeding!

There were still some diseased and ragged cats, mostly cancers effecting ears and eyes and malnourishment. The toll of survival is obvious.

All in all it was a successful and inspiring two weeks to work with volunteers who tirelessly dedicate themselves and their resources to improving the life of cats. The de-sexing programmes are a small part of what the volunteers do. Year round they organize feeding programmes, run charity shops to raise funds for vet visits and ongoing medical care for the animals on their island, and personally look after dozens of animals. It is often unsung work but without them animals would endure intolerable hardship and suffering. Well done everyone who shows and acts on compassion.

We are looking forward to our next visit!

Yvette Berkeley

(Castlemaine Vet Clinic, Australia)

Vet Visit

Posted 1st December 2014

Words can’t describe the last few hectic days on Symi when a visiting Australian vet neutered 74 cats. A simple ‘Thankyou’ to so many people just isn’t enough to express our gratitude to everyone involved during the last week! Volunteers collected cats from virtually every area of the island, some brought 1 or 2, others brought 9 or 10. Yvette Berkeley the vet & Tove ( whose house was used as a ‘surgery’ ) along with a team of volunteers, worked flat out from before 9am until late afternoon for 4 and a half days, the results are staggering – 51 females + 23 males were neutered!

Carol from the Nine Lives charity who chiefly-sponsored this programme was concerned that we wouldn’t find sufficient cats, especially after 115 were neutered on Kefalonia the previous week, however, she is so delighted with everyone’s hard work & the final tally that she has already suggested another visit at the same time next year! Walking from the village, down the Kali Strata into Yialos earlier, I’m sure I saw several cats with newly-clipped ears wink as much as to say ‘thankyou’………..or maybe it was my ‘pleased as punch’ feeling after an exhausting week? This report is from all of the Symi Animal Welfare team, each have served such an important role in ensuring this visit would be such a success, your immense enthusiasm has been fantastic. The same goes for an increased number of volunteers, a few who have never been involved with vet-week before, so ‘well done’ each & every one of you. I had planned on announcing my retirement ( after nearly 10 years being secretary) as the programme finished, however, this amazing team-effort has been an inspiration & proved to all of us just much can be achieved if we pull out all the stops, so I’ll be staying on if that’s okay? A final message to our wonderful supporters – your generous donations have again helped us look after the welfare of Symi’s cats……. ‘Yammas!’ Bless you all, Melanie, Tove, Suzan, Claudia & Hazel xxxxxx

Early Winter

Posted 16th November 2014

The weather is slowly becoming more wintery now and many houses are closed up, their summer residents gone until at least Spring 2015. Cats who have enjoyed food during much of the Summer & Autumn at these houses have relocated, usually to one of the nearby rubbish bins or skips. Their winter diet may not consist of tasty BBQ titbits or one of the more expensive cat-feed brands available over the next few months, but alternative food will be delivered 2 or 3 times per week by one of our volunteers – as always, an enticing mixture of pasta, biscuits & canned food. Most supplies for the 2014/15 winter feeding programme were delivered earlier today so we have been distributing some of them to volunteers in Pedi, Harani & Mylos areas this afternoon. This year, Suzan has organised supplies for the harbour & Nimborio whilst I am responsible for Chorio & Pedi – as there are now so many feeding stations, we decided that a ‘job-share’ was really necessary. We are also finalising arrangements for an Australian vet who arrives next week for a few days, her visit to Symi comes at the end of a sponsored, outreach neutering project to other islands. This is an extremely positive start to what can be such a bad period for street cats, your donations & support + our conscientious volunteers will help Symi’s cats survive yet another winter. Thankyou all, Melanie, Suzan, Hazel, Tove & Claudia

Dangly Birds

Posted 25th October 2014

Dangly BirdsEarly on in the Summer, a keen supporter of Symi Animal Welfare Sue Barron, sent out the first batch of these woollen, dangly-legged birds for us to sell to raise essential funds; Claudia of the Sunrise Kafeneion did an excellent job of displaying them in the doorway to the bar, which meant that they sold-out fairly quickly.

The colourful birdies became a talking-point amongst customers and messages were sent from afar asking Kevin to save one for so and so until they came to the island on holiday and could buy it!

Sue kindly sent out a 2nd batch, this time, they were displayed on a hanging bird-cage for even greater effect; the last remaining 3 were finally sold yesterday, making the grand total of 250 euro.

Apparently, the birdies now have a cult-following-of-sorts, watch out on eBay!

Many, many thanks to Sue & the Sunrise for your efforts, Melanie x

Relocating Animals

Posted 9th August 2014

A situation has recently arisen whilst a family from Norway was staying down in the harbour. They noticed an apparently abandoned dog, hanging around restaurants & bars begging for food-scraps. The family became more and more concerned about the welfare of the dog and grew very attached to her, especially when she began sleeping on steps by their apartment – she was naturally encouraged by both their kindness and offers of ham-slices. The family emailed via our website, explaining very little apart from the fact that they wanted to take her back to Norway upon their return, so strong were their feelings in a very short time. I emailed them immediately to ask for a description and usual location of the dog, hoping that we could answer certain doubts straight away. Our next reply to a further email was to explain that the first thing they needed to establish was whether the dog actually belonged to anyone and that here on Symi, even pets are allowed to roam free and sadly, this is accepted. Over the next few days, several further emails passed to & fro, the family had obviously by now, been talking to variety of people t in the harbour thereby involving quite a few people not directly involved with Symi Animal Welfare, they were anxious for results. We had already supplied the addresses & telephone numbers of 3 different vets on Rhodes + name of a charity dealing with the relocation of animals from Rhodes, we also strongly advised that they speak to one of these vets re procedures, legislated medications, airline pet-boxes and appx costs, as soon as possible.Eventually, the situation was resolved, thanks to the persistence of the family themselves + help from a number of local business-people near to their accommodation. A box was acquired, a vet provided required paperwork & medications, flights were altered to adhere to airline rules; dog & new owner flew home to Norway earlier this week and yet……………………..yet we have received much criticism?

A happy end to rather a long Symi story, one which is actually a fairly rare occurrence. We need to point out that Symi Animal Welfare neither have the manpower or resources to deal with the relocation of animals, without a permanent vet on the island, everything has to be channelled via Rhodes; we are reliant upon the excellent relationship & support we have with our professional colleagues there. However, in a situation such as this one, we are able to provide practical advice + relevant contact details for vets & other charities who we work closely with all year round.

Hazel, Suzan, Melanie, Tove and Claudia

mid-July report

Posted 22nd July 2014

Great news……………..our collection box at the famous animal-friendly bar in Chorio, the Sunrise kafeneion, was emptied earlier today. Customers to the bar along with carers who have donated money towards medical supplies from our stocks have given a grand total of 503.70euros. This amount has recently increased due to 5 euro donations for dangly-legged, woollen birds kindly made & sent out from the UK by Sue Barron, more are on their way, so don’t worry if you haven’t already managed to get one! There are quite a lot of new kittens around at the moment who like everyone else, are struggling a little with the increasing temperature and humidity. If you are on holiday on the island, can we ask you to leave fresh water, in a plastic container such as an empty ice-cream or margarine tub, for the cats to drink please. Put in a shady, safe place, but a distance away from your accommodation ( the next tenants may not like cats hanging around & most property-owners don’t approve of cats in their houses, or the thirsty insects who may be attracted!!) Thankyou once again for your fantastic support, Melanie x

Urgent appeal

Posted 5th June 2014

As more and more summer visitors arrive on the island, we are receiving almost daily telephone calls concerning kittens. After a particularly anxious message yesterday concerning 2 motherless litters, I contacted several colleagues on Rhodes asking for advice & help, only to discover that the shelters are already full; one organisation is even sending cats to Germany for re-homing. We are only a small group of volunteers and rely upon your incredible support, but I have to remind you that, whilst we do everything possible to help the street-cats of Symi, we don’t have a shelter or full-time carers/nurses for sick & abandoned animals. How wonderful that situation would be, yet not a reality……………….unless someone comes forward to offer their services? Any offers or practical ideas? It is heart-breaking to see any animal suffer and extremely distressing when spotting a very young one apparently abandoned. A nursing mother will occasionally leave young ones to investigate a safer location, to seek food and water for herself, or simply to toilet. Usually exhausted, the nursing mother may sometimes fall asleep, leaving her litter for longer than anticipated. During her absence, if the little ones have been touched by a concerned passer-by, she won’t recognise the scent upon her return so possibly not re-accept it; she definitely won’t be interested should the well-wisher decide to remove a kitten completely then take it back to the initial location a few days later. Keep a check on any lone kitten, the reason for the crying is more than likely cos he’s hungry, but, unless in a dangerous place, don’t move it. Yes indeed, some mothers tragically do die– they’re too young themselves, too small physically, have an accident or eat poison, leaving a truly abandoned litter but this isn’t necessarily a negative situation, hard to believe as it is. Especially during the summer months when waste-bins are full of scraps and visitors leave biscuits and other food-stuffs, stronger ones manage to survive into adulthood and will often be recognised by a winter-feeding volunteer. The life of a canny island cat cannot be compared to those living in secure, pampered homes elsewhere, this is hard to accept but unfortunately fact. Finally, we predicted that the cat population would increase rapidly as time went on; certain individuals + bureaucracy prevented any neutering programmes on the island for several years. A UK vet did visit in November and then again a couple of weeks ago, but in such short periods, the cats neutered are sadly, ‘only scratching the surface’. Without assistance from either local councils or larger charities soon, we are struggling, we desperately need more resident, active volunteers to come forward, please offer your help and time. Thankyou, Melanie

Early Summer vet week

Posted 24th May 2014

Our wonderful friend Martin Bilson has been working so hard over the last week; even now he’s officially ‘on holiday’, he finds the time to answer people’s animal-related questions and has popped in to see a number of residents who are either caring-for or nursing sick cats, with medication taken from Symi Animal Welfare supplies. All of these drugs and treatments are paid for from donations received throughout the year, our latest bill was for 516.78 euros. Donations received during the ‘surgery’ for cats neutered amounted to 85 euros + an aircraft-quality cat-carrier! We are also aware that visitors, on hearing about the work-in-progress, have been putting money into the collection boxes. We really appreciate this support. In total, 42 cats were neutered 29 females + 13 males. A marvellous achievement all round. I would personally like to thank everyone who has helped in whatever capacity, none of the tasks involved are particularly easy and have required so much time and effort, bless you all! Melanie x