The job advert on Facebook sounded almost too good to be true. A living wage, a car, a lovely house to live in – bills paid – with a terrace overlooking the Aegean, just a short walk from a pristine beach on the Greek island of Syros.
The job? Caring for up to 70 cats amounting to four hours of work per day.
Nearly 1,000 Britons applied for the role after the announcement posted by Greek cat sanctuary owner Joan Bowell on Facebook last week went viral.
Her inbox is brimming with applications from hopeful cat caretakers convinced they are the “responsible, reliable, honest, practically inclined” person with a heart of gold she is looking for.
Veterinarians, doctors, even refugees applied.
“We were doing a quiet thing on a Greek island – but no more,” Mrs Bowell’s husband, Richard, 65, told The Telegraph.
Mrs Boswell, a Briton, and Mr Boswell, from Denmark, moved to the island of Syros seven years ago.
They found kittens thrown away in garbage cans, bony cats relying on scraps, feral and injured cats that needed care.
The couple began taking in strays and working with local veterinarians to improve the health of village cat colony and the overall island population.
They backed a sterilisation project, funded dental operations, had sick eyes removed, and nursed motherless kittens through the night. If cat dies, Mrs Bowell buries them and places a stone.
“Now you hardly see distressed cats on Syros,” Mr Bowell says. “It all started here.”
Today the sanctuary is home to anywhere from 55-70 cats, all led around by the resident caretaker cat, Snowy.
Mrs Bowell founded God’s Little People Cat Rescue charity to support the sanctuary with donations and started a Facebook page. At first her posts got a handful of likes as she tried to find homes for cats on Syros.
“Then she posted this, it went viral and people have been phoning from all over the world.”
This fall, the couple plans to return New York, where Mr Bowell has work commitments with the United Nations.
They have drafted five volunteers across Europe to narrow down the 3,000 applications from people offering to take their place – mostly Americans and British nationals – to a pool of 50-100.
There are those that start out with: “I’ve always wanted to live on a Greek island,” those who boldly proclaim: “I am your person” and those who say: “What is behind this?” and want to know more about the sanctuary’s philosophy.
“Those are the ones that catch our attention,” Mr Bowell said of the latter. “Sometimes whispers are best heard.”
The position comes with a salary up to €600 (£536) a month, with bills, housing and veterinary expenses paid, starting November 1, after a voluntary two-week transition period in October.
There are bonus points for veterinarian skills, cat psychology skills for handling feral or non-sociable felines.
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