A tribute to the street cats of Athens
Stray urban cats are quite different from their wild cousins. As a species, they have evolved to live near, or with humans, and, although they retain some of their wild features, they generally tend to suffer when left to survive on their own in urban environments.
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They are at risk from cars and motorcycles, stray dogs and extreme weather conditions. Famine is a constant problem for stray cat populations: there is not enough prey to go around (with bird populations suffering in return), and as cats have become accustomed via both habit and evolution to humans feeding them directly or indirectly via waste products, when the city quiets down during holiday season, they can go very hungry. Caring for them by providing them with food and water is a necessary short-term solution, to reduce the suffering. However, it does not solve the problem in the long-term because stray cat populations tend to increase over time (although their lifespans are just a fraction of that of a pet). Animal rights organisations around the world agree that the most responsible way to help the situation is to care for the existing stray population, but simultaneously try to curb its growth via neutering, and adopting (the same principles apply with regards to stray dogs). Municipal services try to support such efforts, but they are generally mostly driven by volunteers. One such organisation in Athens, Greece, where these photos were taken, is Nine Lives Greece. You can also support their work from their Facebook page. Another organisation that cares for both cat and dog strays is Spaz (Society for the Protection of stray Animals). You can follow them on Facebook here.