By A Staff Reporter
A VOLUNTEER at a Paphos cat park is at the end of her tether and warning that if more isn’t done to spay and neuter cats the island will be massively overpopulated in the near future.
Dawn Foote is the volunteer manager at the Ayios Neophytos monastery cat park and says the shelter is currently inundated with kittens. Funds are urgently needed to keep them healthy and find them good homes, she said.
“Generally, the culture in Cyprus means that cats aren’t spayed or neutered and if things continue as they are, there will be serious problems in the near future.”
Foote said that if the cats continue to reproduce at the current rate, this will lead to large numbers suffering from malnourishment and infections which will see them dying on the streets.
“This will also cause a problem with tourists and then could lead to mass poisoning again. I’m terrified that this will happen,” she told the Sunday Mail.
The park has become popular with visitors from both Cyprus and abroad with the monastery cats gaining recognition worldwide. The park is almost full to capacity, and Foote says that her biggest fear is that volunteers will soon be forced to start turning cats away.
“But this will only lead to cats and kittens being dumped outside the park and will cause complaints from residents and could lead to them being run over.”
She added: “I don’t know what the answer is, but the government should put pressure on the vets to lower their spaying and neutering prices”
Volunteers at the cat park take one or more cats to be spayed or neutered almost on a daily basis, she said.
Foote said that vets in Paphos charge around 110-120 euros to spay a female and around 90 euros to neuter a male.
The sanctuary pays less than this to a Lemba vet, due to the sheer numbers of felines they take for these operations.Just over a year ago, the cat sanctuary was fenced in using money raised from supporters, with the idea that the space would be home to a maximum of 150 cats. There are now around 330 cats and kittens living there, said Foote.
It costs more than 600 euros a month to feed the cats, while vet bills are around 800 euros a month. A substantial amount comes from supporters and cat lovers in the UK, without whom the sanctuary would not be able to operate.
Volunteers at the park feed and water the cats twice a day and try to ensure they remain in good health. The park manager, along with husband Mark, has been involved in caring for the animals for the past three years. The team now consists of eleven helpers and more volunteers are urgently needed, said Foote.
Work is also underway to create a new quarantine area, where sick felines can be isolated. This will help to prevent the spread of infection to other healthy cats.
“We have already paid 3,600 euros and we need to find a further 6,100 to get it finished.”
A separate kitten pen has more than 21 kittens inside which require special attention, as they are motherless. Thirty four more kittens are in foster homes.
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.
The cats were moved to their current home a while ago, which is further down the road from their initial site close to the car park of Ayios Neophytos monastery. The piece of land was provided by the monastery.
Volunteers are needed for fundraising, foster care and feeding, Foote said. “We are really struggling and any help would be greatly appreciated.”
Contact Dawn Foote on 99253430 www.talamonasterycats.com or on www.facebook.com/talamonasterycats