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Malcolm Cat Protection Society & Agios Nikolaos ton Gaton Convent, Cyprus

THE PETPLAN CHARITABLE TRUST has awarded a £10,000 grant to Paws for Kids the charity that provides temporary fostering for pets and support to women and children who are escapingWe were recently in Cyprus.

Before we left the UK I had read in a tourist guide details of Agios Nikolaos ton Gaton (St Nicholas of the Cats) Convent which is near Cape Gata/Lady’s Mile beach on the Akrotiri Peninsula.

The guidebook said that in the 4th century St Helena, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, supposedly gave cats to the monks of the monastery to combat poisonous snakes. Nuns have replaced the monks in the convent, which was rebuilt in the 1990s.

It still hosts dozens of pampered (according to the book) cats in cloisters and gardens. I understand that the nuns take in unwanted cats. It has a shop selling goods which I assume helps to provide funds to feed the cats.

After reading this I had decided it would be good to visit the convent if we had a car when in Cyprus. We did have a car so went to visit the convent which was prominently signposted as you came near to it.

On the main road leading to the convent we spotted a sign leading to another cat rescue centre, which is the Malcolm Cat Protection Society, so we turned off and went to visit it. The sanctuary was run by British people who all worked voluntarily. They didn’t hesitate in showing us around and didn’t hide a thing. All the cats and kittens were extremely well cared for and vaccinated, neutered etc. before being rehomed.

On the day we were there a Cypriot woman had taken in three very small kittens which looked approximately two or three-weeks-old. I assumed their mother had died but no, the woman simply didn’t want the kittens to be with their mother.

Apparently the owner does this every time the cat has kittens but refuses to have her cat spayed. The kittens were being syringe-fed every three hours; it was heartbreaking to think that they had been so callously taken away from their mother and that without the Sanctuary they would without doubt have died.

The sanctuary cares for injured, ill-treated cats and nurses them all back to good health when possible. We were told that a lot of the Cypriots have cats purely to kill snakes and rats etc; they are a far cry from the very pampered cats that we all know and love!!

I would urge anyone who has even just £1 to spare to consider sending a donation to the Society. It would also be fantastic if the large cat food companies would be good enough to donate some food to them even if it nearly or just out of date. I am sure they would be very grateful. The website for the sanctuary is www.malcolmcat.org Email catsanctuary@hotmail.com

I told one of the people at the Sanctuary that we had found it en-route to the convent. She told me that they actually have cats taken to them from the nuns at the convent as they don’t get them treated and will not neuter or spay their cats as they should - perhaps it’s due to their religion!!!!

We were told if we did continue to the convent to be careful if we touched the cats and to be sure to wash our hands well after. This all sounded a little ominous as we had initially set out to visit the convent.

What a stark contrast between the two sanctuaries!!!!!! The poor convent cats looked in need of a good meal and most had very sticky eyes and looked far from well.

We and another couple who were there at the same time were ‘greeted’ - if that can be the word - by a very cantankerous old nun. She picked a kitten up in front of us very roughly around its middle and threw it in a tin box which had a very old rug draped halfway across it.

There appeared to be old straw inside for them to lie on. My husband actually saw this nun kick a cat out of her way as she was walking along the path.

I had gone to the Convent with the intention of giving them a small donation but after what we saw they didn’t get one - the Malcolm Cat Protection Society did get one. Perhaps St Nicholas and The Almighty may look down on this very ill-tempered old nun and ask her to treat these poor animals with a little more respect!!!!

Christine Brooks (Easternmystic Cats)