Stray Cats Reclaim the Streets of Cyprus During Lockdown

Photo of Grace Beard
27 April 2020

In Nicosia, the landlocked capital of Cyprus, stray cats are reclaiming the empty streets as humans stay indoors during lockdown.

With many people housebound thanks to strict lockdown measures, it seems as though the animal kingdom is taking full advantage of near-empty parks, streets and town centres around the world. There have been several reports of animals coming out to play and venturing past their usual boundaries since stay-at-home orders began, from a herd of mountain goats parading through an empty town in North Wales to fallow deer seen grazing in the front gardens of an East London housing estate.

Nicosia, meanwhile, has seen a more domestic creature take over its streets. The city has a huge population of stray cats, and while the friendly felines are a common sight on a regular day, the absence of humans out and about during lockdown means they’re almost exclusively the only living beings wandering the streets at the moment.

Cyprus has long had a surplus of furry felines, with its cat population estimated to outnumber humans – there are reported to be a staggering 1.5 million stray cats on the Mediterranean island. The reason behind the huge number of cats here can be traced back to the 4th century, when – according to legend – Roman Empress Saint Helena brought cats to Cyprus from Egypt and Palestine in order to chase snakes out of a monastery.

Many towns in Cyprus have a resident ‘cat lady’ who feeds and looks after local cats, and there are even feeding stations across the island so locals can play their part in nurturing their furry neighbours. During lockdown, residents of Nicosia are reportedly using their hour-long daily outing to feed the cats – a purr-fect way for both humans and cats to be feline good.

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