Cyprus Mail

Cat park volunteers threatened with violence as it fills up

Volunteers at a crowded cat park in Paphos have said they are often threatened by people wanting to leave animals there, who say the cats will be killed if they are not taken in.

Julie Marshall, a volunteer at Tala Monastery Cat Park, which is now home to 700 cats and kittens recently had to close its doors to newcomers as space has run out, told the Cyprus Mail that a number of recent shocking incidents involving cats had left staff reeling.

“We have lost count of the number of people who say ‘If you don’t take this cat or these kittens we will kill them’. We really need people to understand that they can’t just come to the park and dump cats and kittens in the car park and expect us to take care of them.”

Recently, an altercation involving a Cypriot couple escalated when volunteers spotted the pair dumping a box of eight kittens – from two separate mothers – at the gates of the park. They were advised to take them to an animal shelter, but refused.

Volunteers say that the man became intimidating and ‘faced off’ with one of the volunteers and then the woman allegedly grabbed the box of kittens and dangled it over the ravine to the side of the car park, threatening to drop them unless staff took them in.

“It’s awful of people put this amount of pressure on us and try to hold us to ransom. Do they want the park to close?”

Manager of Tala Monastery cat park, volunteer Dawn Foote has since the incident taken the six tiny kittens home and has been bottle feeding them every two hours, but three have died. “They were far too young to be taken from their mother and were still feeding from her and building up their immune systems.”

Last Wednesday, another volunteer made a grisly discovery when he found a shoe box containing two tiny kittens, umbilical cords still attached, dumped at the park gates. “They were dead. They were tiny and fragile and shouldn’t have been ripped away from their mother,” Foote said.

Something has to change and this type of behaviour has to stop, said Marshall.

However, she stressed that it’s not all bad news. Supporters continue to do what they can for the facility, and there is an ongoing spaying and neutering programme at the park.

On Monday a generous donation was received which will be used to build a shed which will be used as a shelter for the cats during the winter months.

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