Syros is a small Aegean island and the capital of the Cyclades. The latest census figures show a population of around 25,000 people. Residents estimate there are also around 3000 stray cats. They live around dumpsters, in spare pieces of land, in abandoned houses and anywhere there might be a chance of food. Many are in bad condition, infested with parasites and hungry.
The summer visitors provide enough food, through direct feeding and additional refuse, for the cats to breed litters of kittens, which are destined to have a hard life. The average life of an unsterilized stray cat in Greece, is only about three years. They die from cold, starvation, disease, poisoning, mistreatment, being dumped in rubbish bins and road traffic accidents. Those that are killed by cars are the lucky ones, many others suffer a slow lingering death from injuries.
There is no safety net for animals on the Greek islands. The only help they get is from concerned animal lovers, who set up feeding programmes, pay for veterinary care and medication and encourage and support neutering and adoption programmes.
There are small animal vets on the island. They are often generous to strays, but are in private practice. The costs of animal care, feeding and treatment are becoming increasingly difficult for everyone in the current austere economic climate in Greece.