Cuddles the Tiger, Orange Julius, Panther, Mickey Mouse, Cuddles Junior (CJ), Clementine, Mama, Shadow, Lloyd. Just a few of the cats we’ve befriended and renamed. For example, Shadow’s real name is Apostoles. But he followed Michael and Peter so much… well you get it.
Anyone who has been to Greece has seen the cats in the streets and alleys, in the tavernas and hotels. In fact, the tourist shops have postcards, posters and t-shirts with “the cats of Greece.” They are everywhere.
What’s really interesting is that they are strays, except not really. There’s a family – or maybe they’re all just housemates – of cats that live, from what we can tell, under the building next door. Most of them are skittish, but they are well fed. Walking by the gates of that building you see all kinds of bowls. I’ve seen at least three different people feed them. One day in the supermarket, I looked down into my cart and saw five cans of cat food. I reminded Demetri that we do not in fact have a cat … and he looked at me like I was nuts.
The Plateia has even more. Tons of cats hang out near the dumpsters of the tavernas and some are brave enough to saunter around the tables. One of the servers we’ve become friendly with feeds them all before he leaves. And by “feeds them,” I mean pork, and chicken. None of this cat food nonsense. They follow him to the bench and they sit together for 30 mins or more.
Our favorite is a brownish gray female tabby whom Peter calls Cuddles. She jumps up on the planter next to the door, loves to be pet and meows loudly the entire time. She loves the affection and the food (Papou feeds her too), but it stops there. She is not interested labels – especially that of “traditional pet.” Once Demetri tried to sneak her upstairs and it sounded as if a murder was being committed in the elevator.
So … we meet her on her terms. Though lately she’s keeping her distance — Demetri went down to feed her one evening and she jumped up and clocked herself when her head hit the plate Demetri was holding. So now, Peter hops the fence after school to go find her. And she lets him love and feed her.
We don’t think she’ll want to leave her plush life in Voula, but we make up stories about her moving to Colorado. I think she’d give the foxes a run for their money. Especially when it comes to chickens.
Pictured above: Peter and Clementine, real name Karolos (Charles) in Nafplio, March 2018. Clementine climbed up peoples’ legs.