Tomorrow Animalcouriers will be collecting cats from Nine Lives Greece and dogs from the Filozoikos shelter, all of whom are on their way to new homes in the UK.

Here, Cordelia from Nine Lives Greece tells us about Melassa, who has a new home waiting with Jackie:

“Melassa (which means Molasses in Greek) is a beautiful plump middle-aged tortie who was left as a kitten in the National Gardens in central Athens. Ever since then, every day of the year, come rain or shine, volunteer feeders from Nine Lives Greece have fed this gentle, shy little girl, along with the other 100 or so cats that found some kind of shelter among the trees in this park.

But a few months ago, five stray dogs that hang out with the policemen who patrol the park, decided to move to the area where Melassa and her companions have lived all their lives. These dogs have killed more than 20 of the cats that we Nine Lives volunteers have known and loved for years, and they dispatch any newly abandoned cat or kitten before we are even aware of its existence.

The dogs’ move to this part of the park reduced Melassa and her three close companions (dubbed the Three Musketeers) to living perched like birds in the trees or hiding in the drains. They had no quality of life whatsoever, and could barely snatch a few bites of food before the dogs would be upon them. It was a testament to their quick wits and fast reactions that these cats managed to remain in once piece for as long as they did.

We had several meetings with the park authorities and the police who the dogs accompany, but no-one was interested in trying to relocate or rehome the dogs, or even just to put bells on their collars so that the cats had more warning of their approach.

So we were left with no option but to try and relocate at least these four cats who were living with one paw in the grave. The Three Musketeers would have been desperately unhappy in a home environment, not really being comfortable with humans except for the most basic contact. We were lucky enough to find them a safe haven in the middle of nowhere on a Greek island. Here they are fed and have dry places to sleep, but otherwise can enjoy freedom and the warmth of the sunshine on their backs and the earth under their paws, without living in constant fear of being snatched by the jaws of death.

But Melassa is a more human-oriented cat. She used to be very friendly until the dogs terrified her out of her wits. When Ioanna (who has known Melassa since she was dumped as a kitten) came to visit her in her foster home, Melassa sat in her arms and kneaded her paws in happiness. She now lets her foster mum stroke and caress her after a couple of weeks’ introduction(!). She was also very calm at the vet, sitting quietly while having a blood sample taken without a sedative.

We are blessed to have the amazing support of Jackie Short in the UK, who has taken on the most ‘impossible’ cases of terribly traumatised cats and dogs, and always manages to work her quiet magic on them, bit by bit. When we sent her Melassa’s story, her reply came back within hours, offering her sanctuary for her golden years.

Jackie knows it will take time, and that at first Melassa will hide and try to escape, but she is the perfect person to help this sweet, nervous cat flourish and enjoy the safety and happiness that she has been deprived of all this time.

We are utterly grateful to dearest Jackie, and as always to Animalcouriers for making space for another cat in need, and for handling her with care and understanding.”

These lovely photos of Melassa were taken by Nine Lives Greece volunteer and budding photographer Kimonas-Alexis Kokkinaris

These lovely photos of Melassa were taken by Nine Lives Greece volunteer and budding photographer Kimonas-Alexis Kokkinaris

Here you can see what a pretty girl Melassa is

Here you can see what a pretty girl Melassa is

Warily bolting down her food while she was still living in the park

Warily bolting down her food while she was still living in the park