Cyprus cat

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Cyprus shorthair cat
A short-haired female Cyprus kitten
Other names Cypriot cat
Origin Egypt or Palestine
Domestic cat (Felis catus)
Cyprus longhair cat
A semi-long-haired adult male Cyprus cat
Other names Cypriot cat
Origin Egypt or Palestine
Domestic cat (Felis catus)

The Cyprus cat is a landrace of domestic cat believed to be descended from cats of Egypt or Palestine brought to Cyprus by St. Helen to rid the island of snakes and vermin. It is not recognized as a formal breed by any major cat fancier and breeder organization.


According to research conducted by J.-D. Vigne, et al. the oldest example of a domesticated cat may be found in Cyprus. In 2004, archaeologists working at the Neolithic site of Shillourokambos, uncovered carefully interred remains of a cat alongside human remains and decorative artifacts. "Examination showed that a small pit or grave had been deliberately dug out, and the body of the cat was placed in it, then rapidly covered." The cat skeleton predates Egyptian depictions of cats by 4,000 years or more.[1]

The Cyprus cat is linked with the Byzantine monastery peculiarly named "St. Nicholas of the Cats" (Greek Άγιος Νικόλαος των Γατών), which was founded in the fourth century AD. It is located near Akrotiri (village). According to Byzantine legend, St. Helen imported hundreds of cats from Egypt or Palestine in the fourth century to control venomous snakes that had infested the monastery. 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 once dwindled but has now revived thanks to the resident nuns.[2]

The Nobel Laureate, Giorgos Seferis, wrote of the Cyprus cat in his poem, "The Cats of St. Nicholas" translated by Edmund Keely and Philip Sherrard in 1995.[3]


The Cyprus cat, a close relative of the Cyprus Longhair, is an athletic and energetic variety found throughout the island of Cyprus; from mountainous and cooler regions to the lower, hotter areas near the coasts. As such, this cat has adapted to different climates.

Many Cypriot cats can be found in the cities of Cyprus, including Limassol, Nicosia, Paphos, and Larnaca. In many cases, large populations have become feral.

Cyprus cat demonstrating athleticism


  1. ^ J.-D. Vigne; J. Guilaine; K. Debue; L. Haye & P. Gérard (April 9, 2004). "Early Taming of the Cat in Cyprus". Science. 304. p. 259. 
  2. ^ Marc Dubin (2009). The Rough Guide To Cyprus. Rough Guide. pp. 135–136. 
  3. ^ George Seferis, Collected Poems. Princeton University. 1995. 

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