By Bejay Browne
VOLUNTEERS in Paphos are struggling to take care of close to 200 cats and kittens at a dedicated cat park in Tala and say the situation is getting out of hand as numbers are growing so fast.
They not only feed and water the cats at the Ayios Neophytos monastery cat park but they also do their best to ensure all of the felines are in good health. But volunteers say this is getting harder due to the poor economic climate and the park’s successful reputation.
In the last four months alone, more than 100 kittens have been dumped there, according to volunteer Dawn Foote, who along with husband Mark has been involved in caring for the animals for the past two years.
“The problem is people are struggling financially and they are not able to care for the kittens or to pay for cats to be spayed or neutered. Although a local animal welfare charity
Paphiakos will perform this for free, people don’t seem to be taking them there,” she said.
Unfortunately, once the volunteers’ undertook to raise money to help towards the health and upkeep of the cats, they no longer qualified for the free service provided by the charity.
“We had to build a fence to keep the cats inside the park, as requested by the local community council and then the charity said it would no longer be able to provide a free service for the monastery cats,” said Foote.
Instead, volunteers now take the animals to be spayed or neutered to a vet in Lemba in Paphos who gives a ‘substantial’ discount .But the park’s ongoing success has also encouraged more people to dump animals there, says Foote.
“People see how lovely the cat park is, it’s clean as well – and they see how well cared for the cats are. The park is well maintained and this seems to encourage them to dump unwanted animals with us. We now have a team of volunteers who attend to the park twice a day, ensuring there is enough water and that food bowls are clean.”
The park has also become popular with visitors from both Cyprus and abroad with the monastery cats gaining recognition world wide.
Although volunteers are doing their best to keep numbers down and to re home the animals, cats and kittens are being dumped on an almost daily basis.
“In the last two months we have managed to re- home about 40 kittens and 10 adult cats,” said Foote.
The cat lover said, however, that volunteers were finding it hard to keep up with the costs involved.
The cats were moved to their current residence a while ago, which is further down the road from their initial home close to the car park of Ayios Neophytos monastery.
As numbers grew, the cats were moved for health and safety reasons, to an area about 50 meters away. The piece of land was provided by the monastery.
The cats are able to roam the park and have plenty of shade.
Volunteers are needed for fundraising, foster care and feeding, Foote said. Bedding, cushions and feeding bowls are always required. Food and other donations can be left in the hut on the right hand side of the feeding area.
The majority of female cats have already been spayed but Foote always advises that adopted cats are taken to a vet before introducing them to their new home. There is no charge to adopt a cat but donations are welcome.
‘But please don’t just take them. We have procedures which we follow and we worry if cats disappear,” said Foote.
Contact Dawn Foote 99253430