Cyprus Mail

Llelayne Cassidy: the cat’s meow

By Poly Pantelides

THE CYPRUS Cats National Breed Association (CyCNBA) hopes to organise the first world show at the end of November with a prestigious gathering attended by some of the most famous cats in Europe and Asia and Cyprus.

The show organisation will be led by Cyprus Cats National Breed Association in co-operation with Cyprus Cats Rescue Group and The Stammbaum Cat club of Berlin. It is also hoped to have some co-operation from one of the many Russian clubs within the World Cat Federation.

The Aphrodite Giant, Cyprus’ indigenous cat, has just amassed a slew of prizes at the World Cat Federation’s silver jubilee show in Germany’s Dortmund.

Meet Llelayne Cassidy, 96.3 per cent Cypriot, a distinctive looking cat who beat off formidable opposition from 60 of the best cats in the world to carry off the Bronze Masters Title, ‘The Best in Show’, and was ranked fourth in the Silver Jubilee ring and third in the Double Master ring at the Dortmund show last month.

Though only recognised as a World Cat Breed for the first time last year, the CyCNBA has been working for years to map the cat’s DNA to ensure it was different from other breeds.

Despite some discussion on whether the genetic mapping was actually necessary, the CyCNBA teamed up with Professor Leslie Lyons’ feline genetics laboratory at UC Davis to show that its breeding programme related to quintessentially Cypriot cats.

CyCNBA has said that its cats are at least 90.2 per cent Cypriot, demonstrating “the purity of the breed brought about by 9,500 years or 18,000 generations of development”. Llelayne Cassidy tips the scale at ninety six per cent Cyprus.

A 9,500-year-old remain of a large cat found buried with a person in a Neolithic settlement in Cyprus is thought to be the oldest sample of a domesticated cat in the world.

More cats are thought to have been brought in to the island at a later stage, circa 328 AD when St Helena arranged for cats from Egypt and Palestine to be sent to the island to control a snake population. A visiting Franciscan Friar described the island’s cats in 1484 as “maimed by the snakes”

“One has lost a nose, another an ear; the skin of one is torn, another is lame: one is blind of one eye, another of both.” The CyCNBA said in a news release that the Franciscan Friar’s piece “is probably the most emotive piece of writing ever produced about the cats of Cyprus”.

Love them or hate them, cats in Cyprus are everywhere, scrounging for foot, getting run over by cars or showing bellies for affection. For the CyCNBA, the Cyprus cats are saviours who saved the island from a snake infestation and “the pride and symbolic representation of the fighting spirit of the Cypriot nation in times of great adversity”.

In anticipation of the November show, the CyCNBA, which was set up in January 2012 and is based in Limassol, is seeking the support of companies and individuals “who are enthused by the amazing story of The Cyprus Cat”.

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