When people are looking for a new career, any perks are sure to make any job an attractive proposition. If the perks of the job involve living on a small Greek island with a house thrown in, then it is bound to attract many applicants. This was the case when a couple running a cat shelter advertised for someone to care for stray cats.
Joan Bowell, a 51-year-old who is originally from Denmark, is the founder of ‘God’s Little People Cat Rescue’ in a nature reserve on Syros. She runs the shelter with her husband Richard. They needed help to look after the cats, of which there are over 70, and decided to advertise on the shelter’s Facebook page.
The advertisement highlighted the ideal qualities they were looking for in candidates. They said the role was best-suited to someone who is a genuine and passionate cat lover who enjoys their own company, nature, and tranquillity. They preferred mature candidates who had previous experience in the fields of either veterinarian work, feline, psychology, or cat whispering. Is there even such a thing as a cat whisperer? Applicants must also have a driving license.
Joan an Richard were overwhelmed by the response they got and hadn’t expected the advertisement to attract so much attention. The ad went viral and they received in excess of 35,000 applicants, which has led them to hire five volunteers to sift through the mound of applications.
Joan has found reading through some of the applications sobering. Applicants have included people who are living in war zones and are desperate for a way to escape and others from countries including India and Russia who can no longer afford to feed their animals in their home country but want to help care for the cats in Greece.
Although the salary is just £450 a month, it is the other perks of the job that have appealed people. The position includes a small house in a beautiful location with winding lanes, trees, sandy stretches, and wildflowers. The job also comes with an all-expenses paid car for the successful applicant who must have the ability to handle unsociable and feral cats.
Some of the applications have been particularly interesting. A Mexican teenager has applied with the permission of her parents, simply claiming that she has a passport, while a United States Air Force veteran has offered to add security to the position. There is also an application from an Australian man who describes himself as a ‘catman’ who has superpowers including cat whispering.
The interesting applications don’t end there as others include a cat poem writer from Seattle and another who claims they are unqualified for the job but don’t know what else they can do with their life. One of the best, and shortest, applications simply said ‘Want job. Please call.’ This came from a woman in Indonesia.
Joan and Richard are surprised that so many people want to share their lifestyle. The couple has not always cared for cats as Richard was a peace activist and has now become an author, while Joan is a former businesswoman and artist.
The couple first visited Greece for a vacation 20 years ago. They were shocked by the number of stray cats and their condition. Although Syros is only a small island with a population of approximately 25,000 people, the island is also home to more than 3,000 stray cats.
The treatment of the stray cats was particularly distressing for the couple. People were drowning, burning, and poisoning cats or throwing them off mountains. Even those cats that were not mistreated by humans were in a terrible state. They were riddled with fleas and infections.
During a visit to the United States, Joan and Richard came across the Cat House on the Kings in southern California. Home to more than 1,000 strays, this rambling riverside compound inspired Joan to start her own shelter. The couple made the dramatic decision to sell their home in Denmark and to move permanently to Syros.
They bought a small plot of land to turn into a haven for themselves and the island’s strays. When people heard that the couple were taking in the cats, they started dumping litters of kittens by the dumpsters.
Joan and Richard have struggled to fund the shelter. To raise money, they have sold Joan’s illustration and relied on donations. Now, the shelter is doing well and they need more help, hence the job advertisement. When they finally find the right candidate, the couple would like to open a larger shelter to help more cats.