Woman On Vacation Finds Tiny Kitten In Hotel's Garbage And Knows She Has To Help
“Every time I came out she would run to my feet and sit by me — we became proper little mates.”
Lydia Ellery couldn’t wait for her trip to the Greek island of Zakynthos (sometimes called Zante) in May 2017. She had never been to Greece before, and planned to spend her time relaxing at the resort and soaking up the Mediterranean sun while escaping the rainy weather of her native London.
Ellery’s goal was to come home with a tan — but she ended up bringing back so much more.
While taking in the island’s quiet coves, rocky cliffsides and charming village tavernas, Ellery couldn’t help but notice the animals. Countless stray cats roamed the streets, congregating at her hotel, begging for scraps of food.
“It was pretty sad — they all looked in a bad way with wounds on their skin and covered in fleas and ticks,” Ellery told The Dodo. “It was one of those, 'I wish I could save you all!' situations.”
A longtime animal lover, Ellery said she felt that she couldn’t stand idly by and watch the cats suffer, so she began to use her all-inclusive meal package to feed the skinniest of the strays. The sight of the cats suffering continued to weigh on her, but as a tourist, she felt powerless to help — a feeling that would soon change.
While feeding the cats one day during lunchtime, Ellery was approached by a fellow traveler. The woman explained that there was a kitten hidden away in the garbage who could benefit from some table scraps. The woman had been feeding the kitten, but her vacation was coming to an end, and she feared the cat wouldn’t last very long without some help.
When Ellery approached the front of the building, where guests rarely went, a kitten, barely the size of her hand, emerged from the hotel’s garbage pile.
“She could only have been a few weeks old. She was living where all the rubbish bags were piled up from the hotel, which obviously was very unhygienic, dirty and also dangerous,” Ellery explained. “If the rubbish van had picked up all the trash bags with her in them, she would have been crushed.”
Ellery began visiting the garbage pile twice a day, in the morning and evening, and noticed over the course of the week that the flea-ridden kitten was always on her own. “I would sneak out fish to feed her from the hotel and she would eat it like she'd never seen food before,” Ellery said. “Every time I came out she would run to my feet and sit by me — we became proper little mates.”
In an effort to not get too attached, she started calling the scrappy kitten Geoffrey after the unpopular “Game of Thrones” character.
As the time approached for Ellery to return to the UK, she began to worry about the fate of her little friend. Despite her best efforts, she had become attached to Geoffrey and didn’t want to leave her behind.
“I read about how a huge percentage of strays die once winter comes, as there are no tourists to feed them, and they simply starve to death,” Ellery said. “I couldn't bear the thought of that happening to her after developing a such a strong bond!” Ellery decided to rename the kitten, whom she discovered to be female, Aggie, after one of her favorite authors, Agatha Christie.
Ellery knew she couldn’t get on a plane without securing Aggie’s safety, but it proved more difficult than she imagined. Every rescue organization on Zante was already overstretched with strays in need, Ellery said, leaving no space for Aggie. But just as time was about to run out, one unlikely organization came through — Zante Strays, which deals primarily with dogs.
“On my last day there, a wonderful woman came and picked her up from the bins and took her to a foster home,” Ellery noted. “There she was fed well, de-flead and de-wormed and had a warm bed to call her own.”
Though the little cat was finally out of harm's way, Ellery couldn’t stop thinking about her. She knew that despite the distance, she and Aggie were meant to be together. So Ellery decided to adopt her.
After a pet passport, numerous vaccinations and a two-day-long boat trip, Aggie finally arrived on the shores of a new country.
Over the course of a year, the scrawny tortoiseshell kitten has become a healthy, happy cat under Ellery’s care. She loves to cuddle with her mom and spend time in the garden chasing (but never catching) butterflies and birds. When she comes inside, she will always bring her mom a fallen feather.
“Aggie makes life infinitely more entertaining. She's quirky, strong-minded and brings so much presence to our lives,” Ellery said. “Whilst I miss being able to eat dinner in peace, I wouldn't change anything for the world.”
With her past far behind her, Aggie has quickly adapted to her new life in England — even the weather.
“I hate to think what would have happened if Zante Strays hadn't helped me rescue her,” Ellery added. “She is a beautiful, unique little girl and I'm so happy I chanced upon her that day in May of last year.”
To help the stray cats and dogs of Zante, Greece, you can make a donation to Zante Strays.