Cats of Limassol

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.

Cats of Cyprus
On Greek-speaking island even cats know what π is

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.

Cats of Limassol
Orange Cat: Your paws are purrrfect. Grey Cat: Yes, I know.

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.

Do not come any closer
Do not come any closer

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.

Meet the beggar
Meet the beggar
Furry parking attendant
Furry parking attendant
Cats of Cyprus
Who said that benches are for humans only?

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.

Q: How many cats are there? A: 3
Q: How many cats are there? A: 3
Breakfast time
Breakfast time
Gone fishing
Gone fishing
Do not come closer
Do not come closer
Cats of Limassol
Siesta time
Mouse hunting
Mouse hunting

Some archeological evidence from Cyprus suggests that the oldest example of domesticated cat may be found there.

Cats of Cyprus
Cats of Cyprus

“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.

St. Nicholas Monastery of the Cats
What’s in a name?

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.

St. Nicholas Monastery of the Cats
St. Nicholas Monastery of the Cats

The monastery’s population of cats gradually diminished but has now revived thanks to the resident nuns.

Meow!

Share this article on Pinterest by clicking Save button

Cats of Limassol
Cats of Limassol

Sharing is caring!

35 thoughts on “Cats of Limassol”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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! 🙂

  7. 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!

    • 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. Beautiful pictures, learnt something new about cats, beggars and independent types, I love cats and yes they were considered sacred in ancient Egyptian

  11. 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!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Don’t miss the fun!
Subscribe to Traveling Bytes updates.