Thursday 15 July 2021

Cyprus had one domestic cat 10,000 years ago and now there are 1 million

I have discovered that some welfare organisation believe that there are 1.5 million cats in Cyprus. There are 1.2 million humans. It's ironic that Cyprus now has a cat problem because the first known or recorded domestic cat was dug up with their owner in Cyprus at an archaeological dig and they dated the remains to about 10,000 years ago. 

This gives Cyprus a status. It is thought that a wildcat was semi-domesticated and brought to the island from the mainland, perhaps from Syria which is essentially the home of the domestic cat. That, too, is ironic because that country has been blown up by civil war and the cats living there have also been blown up except for some cats protected by one or two cat rescuers who heroically look after the strays and ferals.

Community cats of Cyprus
Community cats of Cyprus are too numerous for some. Picture: Oman Observer.

But the point of this article is that over 10,000 years or so the number of cats on Cyprus has increased from 1 to around a million. The authorities say they have a cat problem. They do. These are community cats. They are semi-feral. They are cared for by the community. One such person is Dinos Ayiomamitis. He is one of a number of volunteers feeding the island's community cats.

He admits that there is no official count but the assessment is that the population of cats on the island equals the population of the people on the island which is 1.2 million.

He feeds 200 cats daily at various locations around Nicosia the capital. The problem? Nowhere near enough cats are being sterilised and the weather is kind to the cats. There are volunteers and some cats are being sterilised but there has to be a massive renewed investment in TNR. It's manageable because 1.2 million cats is not a massive number. It depends upon the commitment of the government. If they want to do something about the cats, they've got to put money into it.

I would suggest that they work with volunteers to expand TNR dramatically. They should help fund volunteers and work with animal rescue organisations as well to create a network and a unified approach. But I don't want to lecture. Although the solution is obvious. The cats are procreating when they shouldn't be. 


Clearly, at the moment, there is an acceptance of these cats. Perhaps they are a feature of the island. Perhaps some people love them and some people hate them. Perhaps some are poisoned and abused in the off-season. That's what happens in Greece. Tourists might like them but they aren't always there. What do the residents think about the community cats? 

If they really want to do something about them, there is only one acceptable way which is to sterilize them and leave them where they are. If you do that consistently with commitment over a long enough period of time they will disappear.

And there's got to be an improvement in cat ownership on the island as well because obviously some irresponsible cat owners are letting their cats procreate and wander around becoming feral. Not a good idea. The cure there is education. Education is fundamental to cat welfare.

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