The Place Where Cats Outnumber People


The Greek island of Cypress has 1.2 million people, but 1.5 million cats! It is believed that cats first arrived on the island in large numbers in 328 AD. Helena of Constantinople sent over 1,000 of them in two boatloads to deal with an infestation of snakes; the venomous animals were interfering with the construction of a monastery on the island. The snakes were eradicated, and the monastery was completed.

But evidence of cats on Cypress actually goes back almost 10,000 years. Archeologists on the island have unearthed the remains of the world’s oldest known cat kept as a pet. The apparently beloved feline was carefully buried with its owner along with decorative artifacts.

Cypress cats don’t mate with other felines, and a standardized breed in both shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties is being developed from them. While no major breed registry includes this breed yet, it is already fully recognized by the World Cat Federation, with breeding regulated by the World Cat Congress. The International Cat Association calls the emerging breed — long-legged, calm, and social with people — the Aphrodite.


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