Symi Animal Welfare News - Page 2

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

Early Summer report

Posted 19th May 2014

The final total for the 2013/14 winter feeding programme was 1494 euros, with some foodstuffs kindly donated by Sotiris in the Village + Hatzipetros in the harbour supermarkets. Volunteers took food for the street-cats 2 or 3 times weekly for at least 5 months, to over 20 locations. A few of the volunteers who feed larger numbers, received an extra supply of biscuits after the initial distribution in early December. Thankyou all, for your commitment, the island cats are looking good now that summer has arrived and hopefully, their supply of tasty scraps! During the winter, we managed to get 5 cats over to a vet on Rhodes, for either treatment or neutering. Another Rhodes’ vet has also been to the island 3 times recently, specifically for vaccinations & general check-ups, he hopes to continue these visits on a monthly basis. Our volunteer UK vet, has just completed a successful week, when 41 cats were neutered; a truly international ‘team’ made it possible – a German volunteer helping a Greek neighbour, a Swiss volunteer transporting a French friend’s cats, a Danish volunteer organising delivery of cat-boxes to a Greek retired sea-captain……………….we are delighted with the fantastic co-operation of all involved. Our collection boxes can be found at the Sunrise kafeneion, Kalodoukas, Symi Visitor & Symi Dream offices. We look forward to seeing you at some point during the summer. Your support is amazing, thankyou, Melanie, Tove, Suzan, Claudia & Hazel

Late winter report

Posted 12th March 2014

The winter weather up until now, has been fairly good, however, the street cats are looking somewhat bedraggled today after terrific storms recently. A few of our volunteers have been away at some stage, but all of the feeding stations have been regularly visited several times each week throughout the winter months, ensuring that the cats receive their winter diet of pasta, biscuits & canned food. It is good to see that most of the kittens who were quite small late last year, are still appearing at the stations – they have matured, stayed safe and have grown into fit & strong animals. Once we’ve had the final supermarket total ( the usual ‘avrio’ reply when I say that we’d like to pay!) this year’s successful feeding programme should be drawing to a close. It is wonderful to notice that the cat colonies are occasionally fed by others also – ‘my’ cats at Kampos bins are regularly treated to scraps of meat & fish, but never ‘turn up their noses’ at the pasta- mixture. The bin-cats are doing so well these days! As some of you may have read on different websites, a vet from Rhodes hopes to visit the island on a monthly basis; he will be doing vaccinations & examinations only, for now at any rate. Unfortunately, bad weather stopped his planned trip last weekend, but all being well, he’ll be here towards the end of this week. This is brilliant news for the island and we hope to work closely with him in the future. Melanie x

A huge litter

Posted 27th February 2014


"I'm sure there were only four last week!"

Autumn News

Posted 2nd November 2013

We have just completed a fantastic vet-week, sponsored entirely by Symi Animal Welfare. Your generous donations allowed it to take place, such kindness made it happen! Hazel and Suzan now have the task of working out the accounts, but an estimated cost is around the 2000 euro mark (this figure also includes replenishing stocks of anitibiotics, wormers, eye treatments etc for use all year round) Volunteers & supporters of so many nationalities have ensured that it was such a success, you’ve been brilliant!

In all, 88 animals received treatment –

34 female cats spayed

20 male cats neutered

1 female dog neutered

3 tooth extractions

2 amputations

1 microchip + vaccination

27 examinations

We can now start organising/ordering supplies for the winter feeding programme which will hopefully commence at the beginning of December.

Thankyou so much for your continuing support and amazing generosity, Tove, Suzan, Hazel, Claudia and Melanie xxxxxx

Summer report

Posted 14th August 2013

The summer heat-wave continues when the evening lows don’t offer much respite either; as the sun begins to go down from around 8pm, the cats decide to venture out from daytime shady sleeping-places found during the hottest hours. The hunt for food is left until evening and street cats congregate at traditional feeding-places, part of their daily routine - but during this meltdown period, rubbish skips are emptied very regularly for obvious reasons; as the desire to eat is much less, the street cats sit around at the bins anyway, relaxing in the slightly cooler conditions, without much interest in any new food-scraps delivered. Those of you who have already visited the island recently will have noticed how thin many of the street cats are, be assured that this is ‘normal’ during high summer. Even house-cats have reduced appetites. Drinking however is essential for survival, so please can we ask you to leave & top-up a plastic container of water, in a safe, shaded location where you’ve noticed that cats are. Insects & lizards are attracted to the water too, so don’t be surprised if the old ice-cream container becomes your personally donated Symi oasis! Many of the owners of rental properties don’t want cats on the premises, because not all guests like our feline friends unfortunately, but a suitable place for a water container can be found easily enough nearby. Sadly, some sad news – Mickey passed away last week, he had not been well for a long time. His presence around the harbour area will be missed and our thoughts are with Pat who will miss him so very much. Delphi continues to be fit & fully recovered, she is as gentle & sweet as ever after a frightening attack of Tic-fever. The collection box at the Sunrise has been emptied mid-season - donations + monies received for animal medications totalled over 300 euros, thankyou for your support. At the end of October, we plan to start up our veterinary programme once again, dependent on the boat situation of course. The system seemed to work last winter when we took 28 cats to Rhodes for treatment and/or neutering.


Winter feeding 2012/13

Posted 22nd June 2013

It may seem a little strange talking about Symi Animal Welfare’s feeding programme when the temperature today is 27.3 in the shade at the front of our house! But finally we can tell you the final amount spent on foodstuffs for the street cats…………………..1180.20 euros……..split between just 2 supermarkets this time. The 2 shopkeepers also donated a small quantity of foodstuffs + they helped with deliveries, thankyou so much to Dino Hatzipetros in the harbour and Sotiris Diasinos in the Village. The biggest thankyou though is to everyone who has donated and supported us over the years, without you, none of this would have been possible. Love from, Hazel, Melanie, Tove, Claudia & Suzan xxxxx

Spring News

Posted 16th May 2013

Hello friends and supporters, we apologise for being so slow in publishing an update re our activities on the island. Time simply rushes away! So, to keep you all in the picture, here is the latest news:- A couple of weeks into the new holiday season, a number of early visitors have remarked on how healthy overall, the street cats are looking. The extended winter feeding programme could well have played a part in that, volunteers took food 2 or 3 times per week to all main residential areas from November until April. For the 3rd year running, even cats in the Nimborio area received food. Thanks to your donations, it was possible to distribute extra foodstuffs to volunteers responsible for the larger cat communities – in Pedi for example, where 30 or so cats are cared for by 2 residents. We have been unable to let you know the final amount spent on cans, pasta & biscuits because the shop-owners are being tardy for some reason?! Our main supplier however, Sotiris in the Village, has told me only today, that he now has a bill for us! We’ll be letting him have payment later in the week. He, along with Hatzipetros supermarket in Yialos, each donated food towards the programme. Even though there were quite a lot of boat cancellations due to bad weather during the winter, we managed to take 28 cats over to a vet on Rhodes. This particular vet had agreed back in October, to come over here to hold a much needed surgery, but, for a number of reasons, this never happened unfortunately. She therefore came up with another idea which was that, we send cats over to her, they would be collected from the boat & then returned later in the day after neutering. However, even though the animals would be safe inside cat-boxes, the boat company insists that they are escorted by humans, this is written in their rules & regulations. Several volunteers therefore escorted cats, up to 5 at one time, to the surgery over the winter – 28 in all. Another initiative, this time by the Mayor and his council, which was enforced a while ago, is that all dogs be registered at the council offices. The residents who went along to register had to provide evidence of regular inoculations & pet-passport, we were each given a printed sheet stating the law re leashes, fouling and cruelty issues….the ‘famous dogs’ ie Delfi, Kookie & Loulou all are now on-record!! Hopefully, this registration will encourage responsibility too? We would like to say thankyou for your continuing support and for donations received during the winter. If you’re on the island over the summer months, we’d love to meet you. Hazel, Suzan, Claudia, Tove & Melanie xxxx

Christmas Report

Posted 16th December 2012

At last, our volunteers have received most of the supplies required to feed the cats this winter. Friends have alerted us to several new communities of street cats recently, so they too will receive food 2 or 3 times each week. These colonies tend to relocate as summer-only visitors leave the island, often moving again when weather conditions deteriorate, keeping us on our toes when deciding on the best locations for the feeding stations. With 20 scattered stations ,we really hope that our cats find one of them and enjoy the food left there! The menu this winter is the same as always I'm afraid though kitties.....canned Rokus, biscuits and macaroni. Most of the volunteers tend to supplement supplies with foodscraps from the family's evening meal, so you can also expect a few surprises guys - bolognaise, risotto, chicken casserole, liver & onions, maybe a few bits of roast meat or barbequed fish if you're lucky! We send our best wishes for Christmas and in the New Year, we also want to repeat our thanks for your amazing generosity and support. Hope to see you in 2013, much love, Melanie, Hazel, Tove, Suzan & Claudia xxxxxxxx

Raffle results

Posted 3rd November 2012

Readers will remember that back in June we announced a fund-raising raffle to be run over the summer period to win an original painting by Corinsh artist Sarah Bassett of the famous kitten Jack from the Sunrise Kafenion. The painting was generously donated by by Symi Dream.

Photograph by Terri Baker

GJack draws the raffle The draw for the raffle took place at The Sunrise Kafeninon on Wednesday 31st. October and was performed in fine style by the star of the show: Jack The Kitten himself!

The winners of the original painting are Hans and Tove Holt. Congratulations to them from all at Symi Animal Welfare.

Our ever-generous friends at Symi Dream also donated two other prizes for the raffle. The second prize, a Symi Dream 10 years on Symi slideshow with music DVD was won by Rosie Clasby and the third prize of a Symi Dreams music CD went to Steve Burford.

We would like to thank Symi Dream, Sarah Bassett and everyone who took part in the raffle for their support. The final total has still to be calculated but we expect the event to have raised around 250 Euros. A truly wonderful result!

A Picture Of The Bin Cats

Posted 30th October 2012

Our good friends over at Symi Dream sent us this lovely picture of the cats at the bins by the windmills checking out their food source for new titbits.

Bin Cats

" food scraps today?! Never mind, the Symi Animal Welfare volunteers will soon be bringing us something delicious to eat several times a week!"

Vet Visit Update

Posted 16th October 2012

Unfortunately, our hopes of bringing a vet over to Symi later this month have been dashed - too many obstacles were put in the way. A number of threats have been made on a certain website which many of you will know about, by people who apparently care deeply for the animals of Symi?

Far from showing any true concern, these individuals have actually illustrated their true colours; they are more interested in upsetting the good relationship developed between the mayor and his council, Symi Animal Welfare team and its volunteers, a Rhodes lawyer and lastly, but very importantly, several of the vets on Rhodes.

Many of our friends and neighbours will be so disappointed, but the vet would have been here for less than 48 hours, so operations would naturally have been limited.

There are countless vets, working voluntarily on essential outreach projects throughout Greece, all the time. Do these characters seriously believe that all the neutering of street cats on the islands takes place in licensed premises......... or is their intention to threaten and ultimately stop every animal welfare group within Greece?

They are also insulting the professionalism of the vets and trained assistants who are willing to work voluntarily in providing a service. Valuable time and energy can be taken up trying to avoid any unnecessary conflict/potential problems created by these guys when really we should be concentrating on the welfare of the island street animals.

So, with this in mind, over the last few weeks, after prior arrangement with a couple of vets on Rhodes, our volunteers have been taking cats over to Rhodes. Not particularly the most cost-effective method of controlling the cat population on Symi, but at least we can assure you all that we are constantly thinking of alternative ways to look after their welfare. The vets concerned are really sympathetic towards our small organisation and are happy to work with us in both the short and long-term.

Until the current situation is resolved or ideally, there are fully licensed veterinary premises on the island, we shall continue with these vet-trips. five cats will be on an adventure this week, bringing the total so far to thirteen.

As always, thankyou for your generosity and support,

Claudia, Melanie, Tove, Hazel and Suzan

World Animal Day

Posted 4th October 2012

World Animal Day October 4th is World Animal Day

Symi Animal Welfare would like to congratulate all animal lovers; every individual, group or organisation, globally but especially in Greece, who work tirelessly to protect, rescue and care for endangered species, feral communities, abused domestic breeds, circus and farm animals.

Melanie, Tove, Hazel, Claudia & Suzan

Autumn Report

Posted 24th September 2012

Visitors on Symi are making the most of the cooler temperatures, the low sun creating a golden glow to everything, the shorter evenings and the last few weeks of a regular boat schedule.

There seems to have been an increase in the number of kittens born over the last couple of months, our volunteers have been alerted to several, apparently abandoned little ones; it isn't necessarily the kindest thing to do to relocate such a kitten however distressed it may appear, the mother may simply have gone away to find food, only returning to find her family gone. Often, not even properly weaned, we try our best to help the mite survive, but without mother's milk they will die or certainly have no proper immune system to grow fit and strong. Sadly, this has happened a few times recently despite our efforts.

Ginger kittenA number of older kittens, approximately 8 - 12 weeks, have quite simply turned up at a house, hoping to be given some food or even a home.

This was the case with two young ginger kittens, quite possibly from the same litter. One now lives with us, the other at the Sunrise Kafeneion!

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so generously this season and as mentioned in previous reports, especially to Christine Brown and Samantha & Henry Dingle. We are also grateful to Madeline Hilton for the donation after the recent funeral of her husband Jonathan. You are all so very kind and your generosity enables us to continue helping the animals on the island.

Finally, some really exciting news. We are currently organising a vet visit for the end of October, with the full blessing of the mayor, he has even offered to find suitable premises for use as a 'clinic'. It may have taken a long time but at last the community of Symi is all working together for the welfare of the cats and dogs.

Once we have finalised plans, full details of venue and times etc will be publicised.


No Flowers Please

Posted 2nd September 2012

At the recent funeral of local resident Ron Brown, everyone dressed in bright clothing, his family explained that this had been his wish. They also asked that only family flowers be taken along to the service at St John's church in Yialos. Instead, they asked that a donation be made to Symi Animal Welfare on the day.

A total of 71 euros was collected to help the street animals of Symi.

May we offer our sincerest condolences to Christine and your lovely family.

With many thanks,

Claudia, Hazel, Melanie, Tove & Suzan

Fundraising event report

Posted 24th August 2012

Thursday's fundraising event was a great success and we would like to thank everyone who came along to the Sunrise to listen to sweet, folk sounds from Sam and Henry, to buy raffle tickets for great prizes, to join in with George's more 'rocky' music, to fuss all the animals who live there or simply to sample a tipple or two!

A big thank you to Kevin & Claudia for the venue and their hospitality, plus a very generous 50% of bar takings, another to Rhiannon for a great raffle prize, another to Sam and Henry for not only their lovely songs but for the initial idea............. and a cuddly toy!

It was a very enjoyable evening and an amazing 412.95 Euros was raised.

Your support for Symi Animal Welfare is fantastic.

Fundraising event

Posted 21st August 2012

On Thursday 23rd August we are having a fund-raising event at the Sunrise Cafenion in Chorio

There will be live folk music by 'Sam and Henry'.

Entrance is free but you will be expected to buy a raffle ticket (or several) to win the original Sarah Bassett painting of Jack the kitten pictured below.

50% of the bar takings on the night will be donated to SAW so if you do attend remember to drink a lot - it's in a good cause.

Summer Report

Posted 26th June 2012

Painting of JackFirst, we have news of the chance to win a lovely prize!

This original painting of the famous kitten Jack from the Sunrise Kafenion in Chorio by Corinsh artist Sarah Bassett has been generously donated by our good friends at Symi Dream to raise funds for SAW.

Raffle tickets are on sale at the Sunrise Kafenion or from SAW volunteers on the island at a cost of just one Euro each.

For those not familiar with Sarah Bassett's work, this is a little bit of information from the Cornwall Artist Index:

Born in the West country, Sarah now lives in Penzance where she paints mainly subjects in natural history and landscape. She is also a trained potter and worked in ceramics prior to her return to Cornwall. She graduated from Ravensbourne School Of Art in painting and pottery.

The raffle will be drawn on October 31st 2012 and all the proceeds go directly to Symi Animal Welfare. Good luck!

And now to the news report:

At the start of the summer we were very pleased to welcome back Martin Bilson, a vet who had previously visited us from the UK and some years ago had held surgeries on Symi. He was able to bring us some vet medications which we had ordered to add to our stock here which does become quickly depleted, especially at this time of the year.

At a recent commitee meeting in June we discussed the vet options, as there has been no veterinary surgery for more than a year now. However, due to having received a substantial donation recently we are hoping it will be possible to organise a vet visit this year, perhaps in October, all being well.

This generous donation also enabled us to take cats over to Rhodes in mid-June. Two of our SAW team members Melanie and Suzan, assisted by another volunteer, Rhiannon, took six cats for neutering and other medical treatment, working with two vets in Rhodes who have always been very understanding of our 'island situation'.

We were pleased to have the kind co-operation of the boat crews who helped us to carry cat boxes on and off the ferries and the very few taxi drivers in Rhodes who will transport cats in boxes! All our cats behaved very well, with a very little 'miaowing', even though they did attract quite a lot of attention from foreign visitors and locals too! We are pleased to report that the whole operation was a complete success and we didn't mind that it was a long hot tiring day for us. It was the sense of achievement that really counted! All the treated cats are doing very well.

In the Greek Islands we have had mid-summer temperatures already in June. It's that time of the year when our cats look for a shady place to sleep during the hot hours of the day, in the slightly more cool temperatures of the evenings they venture out in search of some food, and at that time can be seen around the bins areas. Cats are survivors and quickly learn where the nearest source of food is, be a taverna or restaurant or the rubbish skip! However we can all help the feral cats of the island by providing them with fresh drinking water, so important when it's hot, cats do need to drink to avoid dehydration and even if it's just a used plastic food container placed in an appropriate spot it will be much appreciated by any passing cats and could be a real life-saver for young kittens, who after being weaned really need to drink water.

We would like to remind all our visitors that we are here to give advice and to help with any animal problems during the summer months on the island.

Suzan and Hazel

April Report

Posted 10th April 2012

For many weeks now, the Orthodox Greek people have been making preparations for the holiest time in their spiritual calendar. This is the last week of serious fasting, even cooking oil cannot be used when preparing a diet consisting mainly of pulses. After the church service around midnight on Saturday next, Christos Anesti (Christ has risen) is heard on every street corner and the long fast of Lent is broken.

Even the street cats' routine of scavenging from the dustbins is forced to wait until after Easter, when the remnants of delicious meats and fish from household kitchens and restaurants can once again be retrieved! Of course, the winter feeding programme has generally continued up to this point and, judging by the number of kittens born to healthy mums recently, 2011/12 was a great success. Your generosity has once again enabled the programme to be implemented.

This will be the last monthly report as we have decided to write four quarterly ones instead; apart from myself, other members of our small team will offer a different insight. The next report will come from our two treasurers outlining expenditure in more detail.

Kalo Paska, Happy Easter, Melanie