THIEVES cut through the perimeter fence at a cat park in Paphos, leaving volunteers to round up hundreds of escaped cats milling around the adjacent car park.
Manager of Tala monastery Cat Park Dawn Foote told the Cyprus Mail that an area of the wire fence had been cut from top to bottom, leaving a gaping hole, and that attempts to open a donations box, which is emptied daily, had been made.
“I cannot stress enough that nothing of any value is kept at the park and we don’t know why people keep doing this. It may be out of malice, we don’t understand why, as the area is much better than before and the cats don’t cause any problems to the surrounding areas.”
Foote said that all donations, including food, are taken home daily. This is the second time in March that the fence has been cut, the latest damage was the most serious, she said.
“To steal from any charity is appalling, but an animal sanctuary, a refuge for old cats and little kittens is low because these people knew that the cats could get out onto busy roads,” volunteer Lynda Bulmer added.
The cat park saw a spate of break-ins last year but Foote said that recent months had been quiet at the non-profit facility.
“This happened on Sunday night and the fence was cut so that it was completely open. We were so lucky that none of the cats were run over on a nearby road, which has happened during a similar incident in the past.”
Foote said that all of the cats are now back inside the park and the fence has been mended.
The park is run by volunteers and the cats moved to their current home, down the road from their initial home close to the car park of Ayios Neophytos monastery, a number of years ago.
“We have even got signs up and the area is being monitored, but we are hoping to take security a step further now. We are getting an electricity supply connected and then CCTV will be fitted,” she said.
Foote said there are now around 600 cats and kittens at the park. There is both a spaying and neutering programme, as well as a rehoming programme, in place.
Since Foote started supporting the park five years ago, the venture has mushroomed. There are now two outlets in Paphos supporting the park, a regularly updated and informative Facebook page, as well as a dedicated website.
The facility is currently having a paved area completed as well as a pathway around the park.
“Last year around 5,000 visitors came through the park and we’re hoping it will be even more this year. We can have 30 visitors at a time during the tourist season. This is how we manage to keep going as they like to sponsor our cats and we can use the money for food and health care,” she said.
Each supporter chooses a cat and receives a certificate, picture and regular updates about their feline friend. They may also visit the cat if they wish.
The cat park has already homed well over 400 cats and posts success stories on their Facebook page.
Foote said there are many wonderful stories which made the hard work worth it.
“All of us at the park are so happy when we see the cats being rehomed, it’s what makes this all worth doing. The volunteers are all doing such a good job.”
However, the current team of 10 volunteers is not enough, said Foote, and she is appealing to the public to come forward if they would like to help.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s one morning a week or longer, volunteers are always gratefully welcomed.”
Rehome number 428 will be flying with her new owner Molly to live in America in June.