If the idea of lounging with dozens of cats while watching the sun settle into the Aegean Sea sounds like your idea of paradise on earth, you're not alone.
In August, God's Little People Cat Rescue offered one feline-obsessed individual with a love for adventure and a full heart for helping animals the opportunity to care for 55 cats at their sanctuary on the Greek island of Syros. In return, the kitty caretaker would not only receive a salary but also a modern home with views of the Aegean Sea — all utilities included.
"You'll no doubt thrive best if you are the type of person who appreciates nature and likes tranquility — and rest comfortably in your own company," writes Joan Bowell, founder of the no-kill, no-cage cat rescue. "That said, you'll never feel lonely in the company of the cats and you’ll be expected to live with a small handful of cats in your house."
Bowell received more than 40,000 applications after her Facebook ad went viral. The lucky winner is a woman in California who also runs her own cat rescue. Jeffyne Telson runs RESQCATS in Santa Barbara, California and has rescued more than 3,000 cats, reports The Washington Post.
"It is my not so humble opinion that God outdid Himself when He created cats," Telson says on her website. "They are small enough to sit on your cold feet without cutting into your already questionable circulation. They greet you in the morning by marching up your body to stand firmly on your chest announcing 'can opener time.' They bring you presents to honor you. They appreciate what you do for them by purring and rubbing against you as you do it."
Bowell and her husband flew to California to meet Telson in person, and they bonded immediately over their passion of rescuing cats.
Bowell also opened an animal shelter after moving to Greece in 2009 and discovering the rough conditions faced by cat populations in the country.
"They're considered a pest like rodents, and I'd heard countless stories about them being poisoned, burnt, thrown in the ocean, kicked — and both sick cats and newborn kittens are regularly thrown in the dumpster," she told Life with Cats. "Basically it's a very ignorant culture with an old agricultural mentality when it comes to animals."
Bowell and her husband will run God's Little People Cat Rescue for several months while a team of volunteers run RESQCATS. Then, other finalists will take turns running the sanctuary in Greece.
Creating change for cats
After encountering a number of feral and injured cats around her property on Syros, and with no cat shelter to turn to, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
"Since the first year it has steadily grown with 10 cats each year and we now have 60+ rescue cats plus feeding 15-20 stray cats each day," she said. While her efforts to help the cats of Syros were at first a private endeavor, Bowell realized after a year that her funding approach was simply not sustainable. To keep the rescue shelter open, she tapped into her artistic talents and began selling cat-themed watercolors and photographs through Etsy.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in August 2018.