It is impossible to walk around Thessaloniki and to not realize that the city has a significant
number of cats on the streets. Despite their living on the street in freedom, the city of Thessaloniki and its citizens are connected with the stray cats they coexist with.
Are the kitties that we see in Greece stray cats?
Yes, most cats that you can find on the Greek streets are strays. In most of Greece, the people
take upon themselves to share the neighborhood with the stray cats and offer them food and
water. In general, stray cats face many challenges, such as cold winter temperatures, hunger,
plagues and, if they survive while they are kittens, they’ll still have a low life expectancy.
In any case, the feline communities in Greece can survive and live long enough to expand their
population or maintain it.
The number of cats depends on the neighbourhood: there is usually a higher proportion of
stray cats in the most humble ones. However, it is difficult to find an area in Thessaloniki
Some people might believe that cats in Greece are outdoor domesticated cats or the
opposite, that they’re feral. But the cats roaming the Greek streets are strays. The difference
between a feral cat and a stray cat is that a feral cat is born and lives in the wild with little or
no human communication, while a stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or
deviated from home gets lost.
In Thessaloniki, the cats you meet on the streets are strays, so they need the help of humans
to survive. These cats, friendly or not, usually form small colonies in neighborhoods around
the city. They’ll stick to these safe locations, and you’ll often detect them marking their
territory to keep other cats elsewhere.
Stray cats in Greece
To understand the relationship between Greek people and the felines, we should go back in
time and see where it all commenced. Humans and cats have been in existence for thousands
of years. But, according to studies, the process of domestication used approximately 12,000
years. In Ancient Greece, they regarded cats highly and saw them as a symbol of
independence. Besides that, Christianity made the appreciation of felines flourish, thanks to
the legend of a cat preserving baby Jesus from rodents and snakes. But, unfortunately,
nowadays, in Greece, cats have a less favorable reputation.
Not only does Greece have a vast population of stray cats, but this tiny country also has its own cat race, named the “Aegean cat”. These cats are native to the Cyclades, the islands located in
the Aegean Sea. This kind of cat is supposed to be a very resilient breed since they evolved
without any human mediation, and they’ve kept their characteristics until this era. While cat associations might not generally recognize or accept this race, you will find them in
Greece and nowhere else!
Fortunately, Greece is a promising land for stray cats because there are no harsh winters. As a
result, cats are free to scavenge through waste, eat the leftovers from the open markets
and taverns and maintain the locals.
Strays in Thessaloniki are community cats, so they are not owned and free-roaming.
According to that, if a community cat survives the initial stage of life, its medium lifespan is around ten years, but if it lives on its own, it is just around two years.
What can I do to help stray cats in Thessaloniki?
1. Share information!
Many people in Thessaloniki feed stray cats, but also any other kind of animals they can feed.
One such an example is “Ζεστή Αγκαλιά” (‘warm hug’ in English) where people can share
the content of animals that need to be added.
“Stray Animals Care-Love” is an association that works to protect stray animals such as cats
and dogs that live in Thessaloniki. Their primary responsibilities are to rehome some of the
animals, control births by neutering homeless animals and, in cooperation with the Greek
authorities, protect animals from being abused, indicate and sue maltreatment actions, and
offer law protection where needed.
3. Adopt a cat!
Many associations in Greece support the adoption of animals to help those who need help. On
the other hand, they also prevent people who want to have an animal from buying them. This
webpage is one of the most common examples of associations where you can adopt a cat: