By Charalampos Theopemptou

In Cyprus we have far too many stray cats running around and causing a lot of damage to wildlife.

This is because no government up to now has ever taken any serious measures to actually control the number of stray cats. Such an action plan will take years to produce any results, but it’s the only available option we have, and we need to start as soon as possible.

Dog lovers are even more angry, as dog shelters are full and they don’t see any serious action being taken first to support them or even implement the law.

But cat lovers are even more furious with what happened recently.

In 2019, we had a very long discussion based on proposed amendments on the animal welfare law (46/1994) at the House environment committee.

During these discussions, all the animal welfare NGOs brought to the attention of the committee the issue of feeding stray cats.

Local authorities wanted to prevent individuals and NGOs from feeding cats in public places, with the excuse that it created a lot of mess and rubbish.

Animal lovers on the other hand, claimed that since the state was doing nothing, and for the sake of the welfare of the large number of strays, they wanted to maintain the right to feed the cats.

After a lot of discussions, the committee decided to include two clauses to address the concerns of animal NGOs and of local authorities.

  1. Article 5(2)(κα) that states that “..the destruction of the feeding and drinking areas of stray animals and/or the withdrawal from said food and water areas intended for the stray animals is not allowed.
    It is understood that the feeding and drinking of stray animals is done only with the use of suitable containers for this purpose.”
  2. And that a local authority may assign spots for feeding stray animals (article 18A).

These and other changes were voted in by 2020.

But in 2021 we noticed that local authorities, not only did not go ahead and designate feeding places, but also started prosecuting people feeding stray cats. This created a lot of anger among animal lovers, as they did not get the support they expected from government.

The attorney-general’s office recently got involved and things got even worse.

Basically they all forgot that the article for not destroying feeding places was meant for the feeding places of individuals that feed cats.

As soon as the second round of the elections is finished, I will table an amendment on behalf of the Green Party that will clear this up hoping for support from all the political parties for this.

Charalampos Theopemptou is leader of the Greens and chairman of the House environment committee