In winter 2021-22 I helped stray cats on Paros by volunteering with Paroscat charity. I wanted to share my experience as they’re always looking for volunteers to help. If you’re visiting the island for 10+ days that could be you!
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Why It’s Good to Volunteer
Last winter I volunteered with Naxos Animal Welfare Society (NAWS). When I booked Paros for winter 2021 I wanted to do something similar. Volunteering is a good way for me to meet people when I move to a new place. And it can help give my week structure.
Originally I was going to volunteer with Paros Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) as a dog walker but the logistics didn’t work out.
Volunteering with Paroscat
After getting in touch with Paroscat I met up with Lena, the manager and the 20-ish outdoor cats that live with her. Lena feeds about 5 colonies and she took me on the rounds to see them. Paroscat has one more colony that other volunteers look after. [Update: now several other colonies]
Daily Colony Duties
Although all the colonies were covered the permanent volunteers were going on holiday for a month. So I took over the feeding for what ended up being about 6 weeks.
Luckily the colony was in a village only about 10 minutes away from me. Lena brought me a sack of food and showed me the feeding station. After that, I went every afternoon to feed and check on the cats.
Loving the Kitties
It was a big colony and the most cats I had on one day was 19 although that wasn’t all of them. A core group of cats turned up every day and others came every couple of days or so. Others still were less regular and there were some cats that I only ever saw once or twice.
A few of the cats stood out, like a big fluffy white one and two semi-longhaired black ones. But it took a while for me to get to know and differentiate between the others. Many were likely siblings and looked very similar. But I got to know them in the end.
A lot of these cats had already been neutered. But with new visitors turning up all the time the work is never-ending. Despite this, my first few vet trips were for illness. One of the cats had flu which I wanted to nip in the bud before it spread around all of them.
In the end, I took three in with flu and one was neutered at the same time. I’ve lost track but I think I took in another two for neutering and another little black kitty who just wasn’t thriving.
Apparently, the hardy little creature has been like that for two years. He’d been tricky to catch but I came up with a plan and Lena came and caught him.
Volunteering with Cats in Paros
Although all the Paroscat colonies are covered in terms of feeding, the organisation really needs help with catching and neutering more cats. Or even just transporting them to or from the vets.
It’s the only way to keep the cat population from getting out of control. If you’re staying on Paros for 10 days or more you’re eligible to help out.
Is Catching Cats Hard?
Catching the cats can be quite straightforward. The ones with a clipped ear have already been neutered so you can easily see the ones that still need to be done. We set up traps and lure them in with food. There’s also another style of trap that has a hinged top and a removable bottom.
If the cats are affectionate you can pick them up and put them into the cage from the top. Alternatively, you can drop the cage over them while they’re eating or near you. Then you slide the bottom section in to secure them.
The cats can be wary of the cages especially if they’ve been caught for something previously. But there are so many cats to be neutered that there’s always one to catch.
Want to Help with Cats in Paros?
If you’re interested in helping out with cats in Paros via Paroscat then get in touch with Lena via the Facebook page. If you’re in Paros for 10 days or more you could feed a colony to give the regular volunteers an opportunity to leave the island and go on holiday or get things done in Athens.
There’s always the opportunity to catch cats around your holiday accommodation for neutering. Or you could even do some fostering for a week.
If you’re not staying long enough but are getting photos in for social media, look out for the donation box outside Marpissa’s pink door.