Cat Care: TNR & Treatment
Over the last six years HydraArk has significantly reduced the overpopulation of the island’s cats and improved their overall health. Our organization has achieved this through an annual program of spaying and neutering. Over 600 cats have been sterilized, over 200 have been vaccinated and given antiparasite treatment, and over 20 have been adopted. The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, based in Switzerland, funds most of the sterilization program for cats and subsidizes the fee for the veterinary surgeon. The remaining costs are entirely covered by our generous donors, and our members volunteer to man the clinic throughout the 3-day neutering sessions.
In April 2016, 57 cats were spayed/neutered, 10 cats had dental care, and all cats had antiparasite treatments. We also spayed 4 dogs. At our November 2016 TNR, 87 cats were spayed/neutered; 13 cats had dental care; 1 cat was treated for ear cancer; and 1 female dog was spayed. During a 1-day TNR session in February 2017, 24 female cats and 6 male cats were spayed/neutered; 6 cats had dental care; 2 cats were treated for ear problems; 1 cat had dental care and an operation to remove two twisted nails; 1 cat had dental care and a polyp removed from his ear; and 4 kittens received medical treatment for feline herpes virus. All cats had antiparasite treatments.
In addition, in October and November of 2016, we brought vet nurse Carol McBeth to the island to vaccinate and give antiparasite treatments to numerous cats in various colonies.
Al the Cat
On January 2, 2017, we sent a 3-4-year-old male cat, named Al, to a vet in Athens. The skin on the left half of his face had come detached (exact cause unknown, but likely an advanced abscess). Blood tests showed that he had liver and kidney damage, muscle damage, and an infection in his heart. He was given daily subcutaneous fluids, broad spectrum antibiotics, special food for digestive disorders, and probiotics.
After this treatment, his blood tests came back normal, and he was restored to health! He is now back on Hydra, safe and sound and even neutered. The sum donated by generous people around the world covered his costs! He now has a safe home with one of our volunteers.
Equine Health Checks
Each year, in collaboration with Animal Action, HydraArk organizes an annual visit by this equine action group, which includes a veterinarian, dentist, and farrier. They come to the island for three days to screen for dental and other health problems. In October 2016 the group examined more than 95 horses, mules, and donkeys. Many had their teeth floated; others had their hooves attended to. Several equines needed special attention for different issues.
This is the ninth year that the Animal Action team has come to Hydra; they have examined close to 800 equines in that time. The doctors stressed the necessity of the annual examinations to avoid and prevent all diseases and especially colic, which can be lethal.
Shade & Water Troughs for Equines
HydraArk has been working to organize installation of canopies for shade for equines in the port, construction near the harbor of two drinking troughs for the equines, and designation of a permanent space for the organization. The City Council, at its meeting on January 29, 2016, postponed the debate about the shade canopies and refused to grant the old radar building as a permanent housing space, but promised to look for another suitable location.
Finally, the council agreed to the construction of two drinking troughs. HydraArk thanks the City Council for this and hopes to work together toward solutions for other issues in the future. We hope to have the water troughs this summer and the same for the shade canopies. Last year we considered renovating an old traditional cart for display in one of our squares. The project turned out to be too expensive, and we dropped the idea.
Winter Food & Care
We must thank our generous supporters for their donations to feed Hydra’s cats from November to April, when there are fewer visitors to the island and cats have a harder time finding food. We distribute the food to the island’s different neighborhoods to keep the cats in all of them healthy.
We have added Kiaffa and Kala Pigadia to the list of areas where we have volunteers distributing food during the winter. We also bought and distributed medicines for certain conditions and antiparasite treatments, which has improved the health of many cats.
We will share more than 80 packs of cat food among our volunteer feeders over the 2016–2017 winter. We also provide medicines to our members for their cat colonies.
In December 2016, we organized the screening, in cooperation with the Foreign Languages School, of Emma Baus’s documentary Kittenhood. The film is in French with English subtitles and presents the life of three cats in three countries, France, Japan, and Greece, with the latter section shot entirely on Hydra. The documentary allows us to give kids both a chance to practice speaking a foreign language and a deeper understanding of animal welfare issues.
Objectives & Actions
For 2017 HydraArk aims to implement two programs of neutering at the end of March and in November. We will continue with the deworming and vaccination of cats, organize the annual visit of the equine vets, and hold other events. We will also have four special iron boxes made containing bags for the collection of dog excrement, to be placed at four spots in town in spring 2017. The structures will blend in with the environment, and HydraArk will cover all costs associated with them.
In addition to organizing school seminars, we intend to focus our efforts on neutering cats in different areas, especially those from which we have begun bringing cats for sterilization. In 2016, we neutered 15 cats from Mandraki and 12 cats from Vlychos.
We also intend to contribute to the neutering of four dogs looked after by fellow animal welfare societies in solidarity with their efforts and because we on Hydra thankfully have no stray dogs.
In December we will hold our first annual “Meet the Horses.” Our attempt to do so in 2017 was thwarted by bad weather. We will invite all community members and guests to bring their children to the Gazebo near the Sunset Restaurant to get better acquainted with Argyris’s horses, who will be festively decked out as reindeer. Saddles and helmets will be provided for rides, and we will distribute HydraArk’s brochure “How We Look After a Horse” (written by Maria Karamitsou, physical education graduate, specializing in horse riding).
Publications & Conferences
In May 2016 HydraArk organized a joint presentation of the documentary Kittenhood, produced by Emma Baus for France 2, and the book Island of Cats—Hydra by internationally renowned wildlife photographer Gabriela Staebler.
Unfortunately Ed Emery and the Free University of Hydra’s “International Conference on Donkeys and Mules,” which was supposed to be held on the island in October 2016, was canceled and took place in London. We hope to host it in 2018.
Other Activities: Environment
On April 2 HydraArk’s members participated in “Let’s Do It Greece,” an initiative of the Environmental Association of Attica and the Greek Solid Waste Management Company. On that day, all across Greece, volunteers performed cleanup operations, landscaping, and aesthetic upgrades in public spaces. HydraArk cleaned the beach at Palamidas, where huge amounts of plastic and other debris had washed ashore.
As we have scheduled our Spring 2017 TNR session during the weekend of March 30 to April 1, HydraArk won’t be able to participate in this year’s “Let’s Do It Greece” cleanup campaign. We will, however, select another date to conduct our own cleanup, to be announced soon.
Our volunteers also worked to resolve a problem that developed in the neighborhood around the football field. Residents were complaining about the disposal there of waste food to feed the local street cats, who also lacked shelter in bad weather. Out for respect for Hydriots and the island’s animals, HydraArk cleaned the area, laid soil, and planted rosemary bushes and four other large plants around the football field to create natural protection and beautify the area. We also constructed and installed a special structure to feed, water, and shelter the cats. Two more cat shelters were placed at the gardens as a donation from our president. We plan to place more cat shelters in selected spots in the coming months.
HydraArk would like to thank the community members who have worked voluntarily over the years, feeding and caring for their cat colonies, like Valerie and Brian Sidaway, Popi and Adonis Zogkou, Carrie Mexi and her family, Takis Diamantis, Maria Hanson, Eleonora, Jennifer, Nici, Yvonne, Rhapsody, Judith, Stavroula, Anita, Tracy, Carrie, and Christina, among many, many others. We also thank the dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly at our neutering clinics, assisting the vets and caring for recovering cats.
Special thanks to our president, Argyris, for all his efforts: carrying cats back and forth for TRN, setting up the clinic, dealing with all issues, representing us at municipal councils and with the police and port police, running to all incidents and situations, and taking care of so many animals.
We are grateful for the support of veterinarian Irini Resou and vet nurse Carol McBeth, Animal Action, the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust of Geneva, Help Animals International, and all our donors, especially Felicity and Jerry Panas, Gabriela Staebler and her husband Peter, publisher Matthias Reuss of Editions Reuss, Heidi Keller and her family, and Georgia Tsitsinaki. We also thank Yvonne Dyballa and Martina Pape for coming all the way from Germany to help us, and Athena Tsigkourakou and Georgia Tsitsinaki for their valuable assistance in adoptions and more.
Mr. Andronikos Tsigouni generously donated his services as an architect to draw up plans for the shade canopies in the harbor. Mr. Antonis Botsis from Botsis Guesthouse offered free accommodation to our vets during our fall vaccinations and TNR. We also thank Miss Maria Karamitsou for writing our horses leaflet, Mr. Kostas Aggelopoulos for creating and donating our new logo, and Mrs. Eleni Christodoulou, editor of the local newspaper Foni tys Ydras, for giving us space in the newspaper and for creating a special column for animal welfare on her website.
Finally, we wish all a bountiful 2017, with health and love.
Many thanks to our wonderful members Gabriela Staebler for the use of her beautiful photos.