Cyprus cat

The Cyprus cat is a landrace of domestic cat believed to be descended from cats of Egypt or Palestine brought to Cyprus by Helena of Constantinople to rid the island of snakes and vermin. It is not recognized as a formal Cat breeds by any major Cat fancy.

History

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.The Cyprus cat is linked with the Byzantine monastery peculiarly named "St. Nicholas of the Cats" (Greek language Άγιος Νικόλαος των Γατών), which was founded in the fourth century AD. According to Byzantine legend, Helena of Constantinople 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. Today, the monastery's population of cats has dwindled.

The Nobel Laureate, Giorgos Seferis, wrote of the Cyprus cat in his poem, translated by Edmund Keely and Philip Sherrard in 1995.

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