Cats in Greece
Greece is a magical destination. For any traveler, there’s nothing better than the combination offered by a sun setting behind a calm sea, urban landscapes worthy of endless pictures, an exquisite and varied gastronomical tradition, imposing classic temples that have remained standing through the years, myths that tell the stories of relentless heroes and seducing deities and… an amazing amount of furry and chubby cats?
Actually, this country located in the Balkan Peninsula between the Aegean and the Ionian Seas, is home to thousands of kitties. You can find them strolling between the columns that hold the ancient temples or along paved roads. They also like to sleep on porches, on the balustrade of a tavern’s terrace or even at a statue’s feet. They’re everywhere!
Cats in Ancient Greece
These likeable and sleepy beings arrived at the Greek territory as stowaways on Phoenician and Roman merchant ships. At the same time, those cultures had discovered them thanks to the Egyptians who believed that these felines had divine qualities. However, as it usually happened with everything that was part of the natural world, there was also a myth linked to the origin of cats. For the ancient Greeks, this animal was representative of Artemis, the divine huntress, goddess of the moon and the Amazons. According to the myth, she created the cat to make fun of the lion, an imposing animal that her brother Apollo, god of the sun and beauty, had created to scare her.
In the beginning, Greeks didn’t like cats as much as Egyptians had done. In fact, they considered them expensive and exotic gifts that were only offered to courtesans. Yet, little by little they began to acknowledge their qualities and adopted them as pets. Nowadays, cats are such popular inhabitants of the Hellenic territory that everyone is always willing to offer them a place to stay as well as food.
Souvenirs of Greek Cats
What’s more, they have practically become part of the Greek landscape. Actually, their pictures are very recurring images in souvenirs, together with mythological motifs and images of classic temples. As a consequence, DINKtravelers wants you to know that in your next visit to Greece you’ll be able to take home a souvenir that can be as Olympian as feline.
The Aegean Cat
This breed originated in the Cycladic Islands in Greece and proliferated during the 1990s with the help of breeders from Cat Fancy. It’s the only native Greek breed and you can recognize it by its semi-long fur that usually combines two or three colors –one of them is always white and they’re never yellow–, a long and straight tail and Oriental style green eyes. They are very friendly, so they’ll happily pose for you whenever you want to take a picture of them.
Responsible Tourism in Greece
Although cats are beautiful and as a traveler you’ll love watching them pose on temples and house porches, it’s in your hands to help prevent these animals from reproducing uncontrollably and ending up living in poor conditions or representing a health risk for other cats or for people. You can help by supporting initiatives created by groups like Greek Cat Rescue that promote rescuing and sterilizing stray cats. Another way to help is by asking for cats adoption requirements promoted by organizations like PAWS in Pelion.