Updated July, 2017
Everybody likes cats. Whether we admit it or not, smooth feline movements, gravity defying jumps and ferocious independence touches everyone. Cats of Limassol know that well.
First, we noticed how many cats call Cyprus their home. They are everywhere: basking in the sun on sandy beaches; purposefully circling unsuspecting diners; hunting someone (or something?) under the rocks. They are not your ordinary domesticated cats. No. They are independent felines that proudly carry their tales high and may not even pay attention to you, unless, of course, you accidentally have a delicious treat in your hand.
They would pose and tease, and pretend to beg for attention only to run away as soon as their wish was granted. Of course, not all cats are the same. Roughly speaking, they can be divided into two major groups: beggars and independent spirits.
As the name implies, beggars, well, beg. Plain and simple. As soon as a person seats somewhere (a bench, at a restaurant terrace, on a beach), a cat would appear seemingly out of thin air. It would circle around with expectant demeanor. No response from this insensitive human? No problem. The cat would lay down nearby patiently waiting for a treat. They are too predictable and not fun to watch.
Independent spirits, on the other hand, are neurotic about humans getting too close to them. They are the ones that hunt anything and everything that catches their eyes or whatever senses cats using to determine their next target. These miniature tigers’ replicas prowl the waterfront in search of an elusive catch of the day.
Some archeological evidence from Cyprus suggests that the oldest example of domesticated cat may be found there.
“It is generally accepted that cats were first domesticated in ancient Egypt, at the latest by the 20th to 19th century B.C. (Middle Kingdom, 12th dynasty). However, several finds from Cyprus suggest that the origins of cat taming were earlier. A cat mandible at the early Neolithic site of Khirokitia, Cyprus, and, more recently, from several other sites, show that cats were present on the island starting from ∼9500 years ago.” Early Taming of the Cat in Cyprus by J.-D. Vigne, J. Guilaine, K. Debue, L. Haye, and P. Gérard, Science 9 April 2004 p.259.
If you happen to explore a Cyprus outback either on a bike or by car, you might stumble upon an interesting landmark – Saint Nicholas Monastery of the Cats.
As the local lore goes, the oddly named Byzantine monastery was founded in the 4th century AD. St. Helen brought hundreds of cats from Egypt and Palestine to fight venomous snakes that had infested the place. The monastery had two bells, one to call the cats for meals and the other to send to the fields to hunt snakes.
The monastery’s population of cats gradually diminished but has now revived thanks to the resident nuns.
Share this article on Pinterest by clicking Save button
36 thoughts on “Cats of Limassol”
Too many cats running around the busy streets and getting hit by cars!
I just got back from a trip to Limassol and I fell in love with the cats while I was there. I’m involved in cat rescue back home and was surprised that these clearly homeless cats were on the very calm side of being semi-feral. Most were approachable and some were just as friendly and loving as a non-feral. I spent serveral mornings watching the sun rise with a cat on my lap. I was also surpised that I didn’t see any major sickness or injuries in the cats, just a few weepy eyes and some torn up ears (cats will be cats). The place would benefit however from a Trap-Neuter-Release program.
Great to hear from you, Jason. I noticed that local people took good care of the cats. They brought food to particular spots and made sure that every cat got a fair share. Cats knew the hour and the location(s). It was quite amusing to see them coming together at some seemingly random place and patiently waiting.
I am more of a dog person! Loved reading about these cats though. Cyprus ones look pretty too! They have been the pets since a really long time!
Thank you, Reshma. Happy that you liked reading about Cyprus cats 🙂
Love it Elena! We were in Cyprus a year ago to the day, house sitting for 2 Cypriot cats adopted from the street. You can tell they were REAL hunters. Went after strings and such with ferocity, seeming to be snake hunters. We saw cats all over Nicosia and noted some in Paphos too. Beautiful island. Beautiful kitties, and all seemed to be in awesome condition for being street cats.
Great to hear from you, Ryan. Thank you! I am with you – Cyprus is a fantastic island. We loved staying there, and, frankly, I wouldn’t mind visiting it again and again.
OMG! Those cats are so cute! I love cats (and they seem to love me too, since they like to come play with my long hair! Haha..) Like in Cyprus, there are also lots of cats in Greece, especially on Greek islands. We’re going there in 2 days, and I can’t wait to play with the little kittens! 😉 Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures!
Thank you :). Yes, Greece seems to be one of the countries that cats really favor. We spent some time in northern Greece (around Kavala).It was truly cat-friendly (not to say over-run by cats) place on Earth 🙂
I am not a cat lover but your post is damn interesting. I learnt something new today- the two different categories of cats and their history can be traced back to Cyprus. Thanks for sharing this up.
Thank you 🙂 Happy that you liked it.
Adorable cats! It reminds me a lot of Kotor, Montenegro, which has a ton of cats and has become part of the tourist attraction. Everyone in the city left bowls of water and food out at night, and a few people even built these elaborate cardboard shelters that groups of cats would use each night. Always nice to have a little company around when you are having lunch or dinner. And my wife is always a sucker, so any cat that visited our table was sure to get some scraps!
Thank you, Drew. We noticed lots of cats in Kotor too. However, we traveled through Montenegro with a dog. I guess, that’s why all felines there kept their distance.
Interesting post! Next time I will look at cats differently 🤔👍🏻
Cats do seem to be a thing no matter where in the world you travel to. Last night I went for a walk in my neighborhood (temp, new to me neighborhood) and a tabby cat started talking quite fast and loud to me. I was taking photos and next thing I knew this cat was all over me, rubbing against my legs. I had to run else face taking it home and I don’t think my roommate would have been to happy! 🙂
Perhaps, this cat was an aspiring local tour guide 😉
Awww too cute! I like cats, as long as they don’t get in my food or poop every where! There is a park in Lima that is full of cats, but I’ve never seen anywhere this overrun by the furrie beasties!
Did you take one home? :)))
Sadly, no :(. For the past 4 years, we’ve been location independent (i.e. digital nomads). Hence, our home is where our travels take us. We are happy with this lifestyle, perhaps with just one exception: it does not allow any animal companions.
I want to go here because of this post and all those cats! I want to pet every single one! I think I should start documenting our travels this way, based on the cats I see.
Thank you, Megan :). I am glad you liked it. It was so much fun watching those amazing creatures.
So cute!!! I love this. Sweet little kitties everywhere!
Thank you 😻
They’re all so cute! I have a habit of taking way too many pictures of cats when I’m traveling, too. Love the way you described them as beggars and independent spirits.
Thank you, Karlie
I dont mind these furry creatures but I know of a friend who definitely is not going to step here if she gets to know that the place is filled with cats. 😀 Lovely pics. Sharing it with her just for fun!
Thanks, Ami. Some cats are truly adorable, so maybe your friend would change her mind?
Beautiful pictures, learnt something new about cats, beggars and independent types, I love cats and yes they were considered sacred in ancient Egyptian
I’m a unapologetic cat lover, I really enjoyed looking at these pictures of both the fuzzy beggars and independent spirits.
Thank you, Brianna 🙂
Interesting post! I had no idea that the origins of the domestic cat can be traced back to Cyprus – I too thought it was in Ancient Egypt that they first came about as pets. I love these kind of posts, we want to do one on the dogs of Machu Piccu soon – gives you a much more local insight into a city and a different view of what it’s lke to be on the ground. So cute! Thanks!
Thank you, Megan.
I’m not much of a cat person, but it was nice learning about the different cat personalities.
We love cats. I have had cats on and off all my life.They are intelligent and genius and find a way to be feed no matter what. Looks like they have a good waterfront view for their daily activities
Thank you! Cats of Limassol (and Cyprus in general) always get the best seats so to speak 😉