In many ways, the Cyprus cat is enigmatic to most of the world. Still, to the island nation of Cyprus, these cats are quite prevalent—the Cyprus cat population on the island is actually higher than the human population.
Origin of the Cyprus Cat
The Cyprus cat is unique for many reasons. First and foremost, these cats are not necessarily a breed, although some people are working towards a breed standard to be recognized officially.
Instead, these friendly felines can better be described as a landrace of domestic cat. In other words, these locally adapted cats have developed over time through their isolation from other cat breeds. It is also worth noting that Cyprus cats are naturally occurring—humans have never interfered with their breeding.
The Aegean Cat
About 480 miles (772 km) west of the island of Cyprus, located in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece, is the island group of the Cyclades. These islands are home to the Aegean cat. Archeologists have reason to believe that, over the years, Cyprus cats were introduced to the Cyclades by various ships and helped form the modern-day Aegean. It is also possible that Aegean cats are related to some Turkish cat breeds.
Although some professionals in the field believe in other theories, there’s no denying that there are many similarities between the Aegean cat and Cyprus cat, some include:
- Both cats are a naturally occurring landrace of domestic cat
- Their development has had zero interference from humans
- In their home countries, these cats are common as feral and family cats
- They are not prone to developing common feline genetic diseases
- They are rare in other regions besides their native countries
- They are powerful hunters
Next time you find yourself visiting the idyllic nation of Greece or its nearby islands, be sure to keep your eye out for the beautiful Aegean cat.
yprus cats have called the island of Cyprus home for over a thousand years. According to Byzantine legend, during the 4th century, Helena of Constantinople (Saint Helen) sent hundreds of cats from Egypt and Palestine to Cyprus. Following a multi-decade drought, a Cyprus monastery named Saint Nicholas of the Cats had an infestation of snakes, and Helena sent the cats to help control the pest issue.
The monastery learned how to train the cats with bells. One bell would be used to send the cats out to the fields to hunt snakes, and another bell would be used to call the cats back in for meals. Over time, as snakes were no longer an issue, these skilled hunters’ population began to dwindle. However, the monastery would eventually be converted into a nunnery, and people can thank the nuns for helping restore the Cyprus cat population.
Other modern organizations have a different idea as to the origin of these cats. Instead, these institutes believe that Cyprus cats originated from various other cat breeds located around the island.
Near the turn of the 21st century, a group of archaeologists working on Cyprus at the Neolithic site of Shillourokambos discovered a human gravesite that also contained a wildcat’s remains. This grave was estimated to be 9,500 years old, which also meant that this island cat pre-dates Egyptian depictions of cats by 4,000 years, making it the oldest proven affiliation of cats with humans.
Today, the Cyprus cat remains prominent on the island—although some locals consider them pests and others a treasure. Still prized for their hunting abilities, many families have welcomed a Cyprus into their family not only for a companion but also for pest control around their property.
Even though they are about as thick as fog on Cyprus (both as feral and family cats), these felines are difficult to find in other regions of the world.
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Perhaps two of the most prominent characteristics of Cyprus cats are that they are friendly and energetic. These cats adore being around people and receiving attention, making them a great choice for families with kids, cats, or dogs in the house. Even though the Cyprus is sociable and they can make for a wonderful lap cat, they can be particular about being handled or picked up.
Knowing this, it is important to supervise any interaction your cat has with young children. These four-legged companions are also quite smart, and you may be surprised at their problem-solving skills. As a pet parent, it is important to remember that even though these are common traits among Cyprus cats, each cat is unique and has their own individual personality.
Cyprus cats are typically slender and tall, yet they still have a muscular build. They also have a rather thick coat that can be found in short to semi-long lengths. These cats can have nearly any color and pattern of fur, except for colorpoint or mink. Plus, if a Cyprus is solid-colored, it should not have any white spots. When it comes to their eye color, Cyprus cats can have practically any color that a cat can have.
These medium-sized cats can weigh anywhere from 8-16 pounds, and they have an average lifespan of 12-15 years.
Grooming and Care
With their thick coat, Cyprus cats must be brushed regularly, preferably a few times a week. As a general rule, these cats will shed more during the spring and autumn seasons, and the longer-haired Cyprus will shed more than their short-haired counterparts.
As part of your pal’s grooming routine, it is also important to brush their teeth, clean around their eyes, and clean their ears. If you are ever unsure about a feline-safe hygiene product or how to groom your cat safely, talk with your veterinarian on recommendations and helpful tips.
Another essential part of any cat’s grooming routine is to trim their nails—this will typically need done every few weeks or once a month. To naturally wear down their nails, it is helpful to provide at least one scratching post or cat tower in your home.
Besides their grooming routine, another key part of caring for a Cyprus cat is to provide them with daily exercise. These cats are naturally an active breed, so having the opportunity to burn off their energy is necessary to your cat’s overall health and happiness. Keeping your four-legged friend active can likewise keep their weight under control. Don’t forget that every cat needs an age-appropriate and nutritious diet.
Have you ever considered taking your cat on a trip with you? Read up on our cat-traveling tips first.
Common Health Issues
Overall, the Cyprus is a fairly healthy cat. In fact, because humans have not interfered with their breeding, these cats have the advantage of being unlikely candidates to developing common feline genetic issues.
Instead, Cyprus parents should keep an eye out for more common health conditions that can affect practically any cat. Some of these could include ear infections, heart problems, or issues with their teeth. Keeping on top of your cat’s grooming routine, plus keeping them updated on their vaccines, shots, flea, and heartworm medicine, can all benefit your cat’s health.
Another key component of being proactive about your pet’s health is to always schedule a yearly appointment with your veterinarian. These annual checkups allow your veterinarian to keep tabs on your pet’s wellbeing. If an issue does arise, these yearly appointments mean that there is a better chance for your veterinarian to catch any issue early-on.
Now that you’ve learned all about the Cyprus cat, it’s time to enjoy reading some fun facts about these felines.
- The Cyprus cat is known by multiple names, including Cypriot cat, St. Helen cat, St. Nicholas cat, the Aphrodite, Aphrodite’s Giant, Aphrodite’s Giant Longhair, and Aphrodite’s Giant Shorthair.
- For years, these felines were concentrated around the inner highlands and mountainous regions on the island of Cyprus. Today, these cats now call all regions of the island home.
- These cats are known for hunting rats, mice, and lizards, in addition to snakes.
- Cyprus cats’ back legs are slightly longer than their front legs, a trait that they share with the Manx cat.
There’s no denying that Cyprus cats are one of a kind. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting one, be prepared to be won over quickly by these cuties.
Check out these possible names for your future Cyprus cat, all of which were inspired by these cats’ home country of Cyprus.
If you ever find yourself visiting the beautiful island of Cyprus, who knows, maybe one of the stray cats will be lucky enough to join you on your journey home.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.
title: Cyprus Cat Facts
author: Emily W.