Posted By: Faye - Vet Nurse

Empowering Feline Lives: A Glimpse into VOCAL's Compassionate Journey

Discover a heartwarming tale of compassion and dedication as our veterinarian shares their experience at VOCAL (Voice of the Cats Alliance), a Greek cat charity based on the picturesque Island of Crete. Join us in understanding the vital trap, neuter, and return programs conducted by this volunteer-driven organization, aiming to reduce stray cat populations and improve feline welfare.


This time, It’s not all Greek to me.. 


During a week's annual leave, I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity to spend some time at a Greek cat charity, based on the Island of Crete. VOCAL (Voice of the Cats Alliance) is run by a team of volunteers, where their main objective is to run trap, neuter and return programmes. The aim being to reduce the number of stray cats and feral colonies on the island. Like the UK, most kittens are born during the spring and summer months. However, come the winter months, many strays are left to fend for themselves. As food resources dry up,many cats are left to fight for remaining scraps. Untreated injuries often result in further complications such as infections and diseases. So, to help control the population and prevent fighting and injuries, regular sterilisation campaigns are organised. 


At the time of my visit, VOCAL was in the middle of a 3-day neutering programme. The second programme to have taken place in September. Whilst at the clinic, I met Bernie and an array of volunteers from different countries. Bernie gave me a tour of the facilities whilst all the volunteers, vet techs and vet were preforming their respective duties.  VOCAL reply purely on donations and volunteers to assist them.  Unfortunately, as it stands, the charities receive no money from the Greek government.  


Every cat that comes into the clinic is assigned with a sheet of paper, identifying the location of where the cat was trapped, date of trapping, colouring, markings, contact name and number and whether the cat may be male or female. Some of these cats are also known to the local villagers and therefore some are known to be handleable or not.

At the time of neutering, every cat will also get a microchip, and have a health check (during my visit to VOCAL the vet techs were preforming a dental and one cat needed further treatment for a minor wound). All cats are treated with Praziquntel (wormer) and Ivermectin (used for parasite control) and given pain relief and antibiotics post operatively. Similarly, to the UK, to avoid the same cat being caught twice, every cat has a 'V' shaped nick out of the left ear. Some cats may also be marked with a tattoo. Tattoo marking is usually used if the ear is deemed to be already damaged. During the 3-day programme the clinic managed to neuter 213 stray and feral cats, with a further 214 cats being neutered during October.


For the team at VOCAL, the trap, neutering and return campaign is a never-ending task.  However, the effects of the dedication and hard work of the team is starting to pay off.  A case in point is a cat called Pongo.  Pongo recently came into the clinic as he needed treatment for an ear polyp.  As it transpires, Pongo had been neutered and microchip 9 years ago!  


So, what to do if you find a stray cat in or around your local area?  Our advice would be: if you believe the cat is injured, then please bring the cat to the vets so we can scan it for a microchip.  If you feel the cat is ‘lost’ then we recommend that the cat also be scanned for a microchip.  This can be done by either bringing the cat into the practice or by contacting Cats Protection.  If you are unable to bring the cat to the practice, then you can also put a paper collar on the cat.  We can provide these for you or, contact Cats Protection.  Of course, neutering will help prevent cats from straying and wandering too far.  Microchipping will also help us reunite you with your pet if he/ or she does get lost or injured.  At the practice, we neuter male and females between 4-6 months.  A microchip can also be implanted when the patient is under a general anaesthetic.  Please note that the government have recently changed the law about microchipping cats.  By the 10th June 2024 it will be compulsory for all cats to be microchipped (please see for more information).  If you have any questions about neutering or microchipping then please contact the practice (via email, WhatsApp, or phone) and make a free appointment with the nurse.  

For more information about the work VOCAL do please follow them on Facebook.  Thanks to Bernie, all the volunteers, vet techs and vets at Fordeverein Arche Noah Kreta.  

- Nurse faye


At Shepton and Wells Vets, we're inspired by the incredible work of organizations like VOCAL. Remember, if you encounter a stray cat, our clinic can help. From microchipping to neutering, we're committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our feline friends. Stay informed about the latest updates on cat welfare and join us in making a difference in the lives of these remarkable creatures.

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