Meet The Woman Who Gets Paid To Live On A Greek Island And Cuddle Cats All Day

Two years ago, there was an intriguing post on Facebook which called all cat lovers to apply to be a kitty caretaker at a cat sanctuary in Greece – a true cat lover’s dream, to say the least. The privately-funded cat shelter is God’s Little People Cat Sanctuary, located on the Greek island of Syros. At the time, it was in search for someone to take over the responsibilities of caring for the cats.

The post came about after Joan Bowell and her husband, Richard, who run the non-profit, wanted to take a break. However, they needed someone to look after the 55 cats that the couple had managed to rescue throughout the years, according to Insider.

Understanding that it probably sounded like a too-good-to-be-true offer, she posted to Facebook, “This is genuine and NOT a joke – friends, please feel free to verify!”

Posted by God's Little People Cat Rescue on Friday, August 16, 2019

Joan was a former businesswoman who is also an artist. She and her husband were both in search of the perfect candidate, someone who was “a mature and genuinely passionate cat lover who knows how to handle many cats and would love their company,” as well as someone who possessed “cat-whispering” skills.

As the advertisement read, “A very special position and living circumstance on offer on a little Greek island called Syros (a small paradise no less!) for a mature and genuinely passionate cat lover who knows how to handle many cats and would love their company!! I am looking for someone who can take over the daily running of my Greek cat sanctuary in my absence. You will have 55 cats in your care and need to be able to overview them all + feed and medicate (big added bonus if you’re trained vet. nurse!).”

A PERSONAL LETTER IF YOU WOULD CARE TO READ IT…Dear everyone,To all of you who have written to my Greek cat rescue…

Posted by Joan Rachlitz Bowell on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Besides getting to stay in a beautiful location, there were other perks involved in the gig, such as “a fully paid (incl. water & electricity) semidetached modern tiny house with its own garden (direct view to the Aegean Sea!) plus a salary.”

The daily hours were that of a part-time job – around 4 hours. Meanwhile, the salary was one that was suited to someone staying in a free house with all utilities covered. Of course, all the expenses related to the cats, including any vet bills, were entirely covered. But as the post stated, if a cat needs to see the vet you’d be expected to take it, therefore, you must be able to operate a manual vehicle.

Good morning from the most patient field crew members in the world – they're used to the photographer taking her good…

Posted by God's Little People Cat Rescue on Friday, March 20, 2020

The couple specifically wanted someone “45+ years of age, who’s responsible, reliable, honest, practically inclined – and really, with a heart of gold!.”

But they emphasized that the most important quality the ideal candidate could possess was to be able to give the cats “heaps of love and attention.” As soon as the offer went live, it became a viral post, leading to Joan to spend the nest several months receiving daily emails – between 1,000 to 1,600 emails a day! Of course, Joan stressed that it wasn’t to be viewed as a “dream job,” since it did require someone to be ok with scooping up poo from the litter boxes, picking up vomit, and making any tough decisions over gravely injured or sick cats. However, the applications continued to flood in, so Joan needed to get the help of several friends to sift through the applications in order to review all of them and narrow them down.

After having received thousands of applications via my personal FB page (and 35,000 via my mailbox!), I realised that…

Posted by Joan Rachlitz Bowell on Sunday, September 23, 2018

According to the Washington Post, it was 62-year-old Jeffyne Telson from California who was selected as one of the finalists out of more than 30,000 applicants.

Jeffyne had a push to apply after her husband sent her the ad, saying, “Jeffyne, this job has you written all over it. Are you going to wait until you’re too old to try to access your dream?”

Jeffyne had a record 21-year experience running the Santa Barbara-based REQCATS, an organization that takes in strays. Her work with this establishment definitely didn’t go unnoticed by Joan while reviewing the applications – it got her the job.

As Jeffyne wrote in her application letter to Joan, she revealed how she had managed to place 3,000 cats and kittens in homes. She further explained that the cats who were too sick or antisocial to be placed were adopted by herself, and they lived out their days at the sanctuary. Some of those cats included four leukemia patients.

Jeffyne further wrote, “I believe that every life is precious and worth saving.”

Jeffyne’s application stood out so much to Joan, that she actually made the journey to Santa Barbara just to meet her in person.

“There was an instant connection between Joan and Jeffyne — and the other way around,” said Richard.

It turned out that Joan and Jeffyne had a lot in common. Just like Joan, Jeffyne was also an artist, and both women had never had any kids of their own.

Jeffyne stated, “It was just a match made in heaven.”

Posted by Jeffyne Telson on Monday, February 25, 2019

When Jeffyne went to Greece, her love for cats and her dedication to helping the cats in need didn’t let up. In fact, she even admitted that she didn’t enjoy her stay in Greece the conventional way, but instead did it the way she knew best.

As she said, “I didn’t do all the tourist stuff on the Greek islands. I separated myself from the tourists and walked up and down the streets looking for the kitties. I thought, ‘There’s just so much to be done here.'”

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Anastasia is an American ex-pat living in Ireland. When she's not writing she can be found wandering the Irish countryside in search of inspiration. You can follow her writing adventures on Twitter @AnastasiaArell5 or Instagram @writeranastasia26
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