Little Cat's Story
How a small cat helped start a charity
This is the story of ‘Little Cat’, she is the inspiration of the Agni Animal Welfare Fund and her presence in Agni Bay in 2005 has brought help for many other cats like her and encouraged us to set up the fund in order to try and help more of the animals on Corfu.
Effie, 'Little Cat'
It was the end of January, 2005 when we returned to Corfu. We often visited the beach in the winter even though it was a bit cold for swimming. Nathan could often be found working down at the Taverna and this particular day, Theo and Alex had just brought the fishing boat in and were going through the nets sorting their catch. They were throwing the damaged fish to the cats that were lined up on the beach. There was about four or five of them enjoying the fish scraps except for one little cat who was always last to get to the fish and lost out every time. I caught the next one myself and stayed with the little cat whilst she struggled to eat the fish I gave her. The little cat was very thin, had half her fur missing down one side, and the fur she did have was scruffy and greasy, she had sores on her back and her face, and she struggled to eat. I was a little reluctant to touch her at first, and my only thought at the time was to get her to a vet to have her put to sleep, she looked so sick there seemed no hope for her and I wanted to put her out of her misery.
A few days later when visiting a friend, a little cat came in identical to the one I had seen on the beach. I explained to our friends about the cat I had found on the beach. They were very surprised to hear about the cat and explained to us that they had taken several cats from Agni beach at the end of the season but could not keep them all so had spayed them and returned some to the beach. They were immediately concerned about the cat and asked us to take her back in order to take her to the vet.
We took her back, she saw the vet and was treated for dehydration, we were told there was not very much wrong with her, she was just not getting enough food. They asked if we could make sure she got some food each day. Her fur had been shaved when she was spayed and was not growing back because she was so run down.
The next few weeks in Corfu were particularly wet, as Corfu winters tend to be, so I spent many damp hours during those weeks looking for the little cat to give her food. Nathan was often working down at the taverna, so we would have a coffee together whilst I waited for the little cat to turn up. She would often arrive long after the others had had their food so I would take her to one side and give her a little pot of food of her own and stayed with her until she had eaten it all. On the days she did not come to the taverna I had to search up and down the road calling for her, feeding her in the back of the car when it was pouring with rain!!
After a few weeks, she began to recognise me and know what I had come for, she began to get a little stronger, but still her fur was not growing. We kept up the feeding until the time came for us to return to the UK. There was about 4 or 5 weeks to go before the season began again, so Nathan continued to feed her, Alex and Theo made sure she got a share of the scraps from the fishing boat, and with their help she continued to improve.
I returned to Corfu later in the summer and as I walked along the path on the beach, there at the corner of Agni Taverna sat ‘Little Cat’ looking very fit and well. Her sores had gone from her back and face, and her fur had grown back and as I called to her she came running to me. She still knew me and later that year waited for me to help her yet again!!
‘Little Cat” had a good summer, met lots of friends who knew her from the previous summer when she was a kitten, they all had their own name for her, she slept under and on their sunbeds and enjoyed the fuss and attention she received. She was now much stronger, her fur was glossy and clean and she fought off all the other cats and was obviously now in charge and ‘Queen’ of the beach cats.
But this was not the end of her story…….
Just as the season was drawing to a close we realised she had not been seen for several days. We asked if anyone had seen her, but no-one had, Alex was convinced he had seen her in Kalami a couple of days previously. We went to Kalami the next day to look for her but she was nowhere to be seen. A couple of days later we returned to the Taverna it was due to close the following day. As I walked in Alex greeted me and said “your little cat has just returned” she had walked in only minutes before I had arrived. She came running up to me when she heard my voice but as I looked down at her I was horrified to see a large raw patch on the back of her neck which could only have been a burn. A horrible burn, her fur was gone and her skin was raw. It began to dawn on us that this was no accident, we believe she had been burned deliberately!! - and we do have suspicions as to who it was - what a terrible thing to do to an animal and she was not the only one!! Another of the stray cats also had a similar burn on his side, he appeared to have recovered.
We were devastated to find the little cat in this terrible state after all she had suffered during the previous winter and was now so fit and well. I picked her up and took her home with me to treat her wound and make sure she was fit before returning her to the beach.
Her wound healed but has left her with a scar, and for a while she continued to live at the beach near the taverna where, Theo, Nathan and family kept an eye on her.
Until one morning when Theo called me to say the little cat was unwell and crying, I went and collected her and took her to the vet. We could find no visible injury but suspected she had been kicked and was suffering from internal bruising. After a while she improved and when visiting the beach one day with her, she did not want to come back with us, so we left her there, as it appeared that was where she wanted to be. We continued to take her food during the wintertime until one day, I was very late, and rushed down to the beach to take food for the cats, there laying in the grass beside the taverna was 'Little Cat' waiting for me to arrive - oh no not again I thought.
As I fed the other cats and left them food she continued to lay there, she did not come for food but just lay and waited for me to go to her. I knew when I first saw her something was wrong, I picked her up and took her home. She was in pain and losing the use of her back legs and dragged then about. We took her to the vets where we found she possibly had an abscess on her spine, which we believe occurred as a result of being kicked a few weeks earlier when Theo found her crying.
We began to realise this little girls nine lives were reducing fast and this time she was NOT going back. It took many months of injections and constant attention from the vet, who I have to thank for her dedication, as she herself thought that the little cat was unlikely to recover. It took almost a year for her to recover fully but thankfully she did, and now she lives with us permanently. She has a passport and travels to England with us and lives mainly as an indoor cat.
She is now called Effie and is one very lucky cat. I wish all the cats we find could have such a happy ending. Effie has inspired us to help more cats and with the kind support of visitors to Corfu we have been able to help many more and will continue to do so for as long as we can.
It is now eight years later since the little cat came to live with us in the UK and sadly on the 22nd November 2013, Effie died. It was rather sudden and quite a shock, she went quite quickly with health problems but she had enjoyed eight really good healthy years with us. Her life was not in vain, she is our mascot, our inspiration to begin the charity and we will continue to run the charity in her memory. She will always be remembered.