There is an old monastery on the island of Cyprus that has been connected to cats for almost two thousand years.
According to legends, this is the first place where a cat home-made on European soil; locals still have a special role to play today.
Many people call Cyprus the island of cats and not without any foundation. This is where the oldest cat artifact was revealed in 2004 Archaeologists found a tomb where the bones of an eight month old cat were found alongside the remains of man. The 9500 year old burial site is the earliest artifact related to domesticated cats.
When it comes to cats and Cyprus, most of us associate with St. Nicholas monastery, which has a special connection with cats. It was built around 325 BC and at that time terrible times were for people living in the area. Legends say the countryside was full of poisonous snakes which made the lives of locals very bitter. This unblessed condition was ended by the mother of Emperor Konstantin, Helena, who had 1000 cats delivered on ships from Egypt and Palestine.
The cats did their job, soon they completely squeezed the snakes, to the satisfaction of people. The settlements in the vicinity financially supported the residents of the monastery, they only set the condition that at least one hundred cats should always live there and have someone to take care of them.
The Turkish conquest caused a big break when the people living in the monastery were either killed or taken away, so there was no one left to care about the animals. Cats scattered and reproduced nationwide. This probably explains why the population of stray cats in Cyprus is so big. However, people don't forget and still like mice parts, feed and take care of them even when it comes to stray animals.
The monastery was later rebuilt, but its durable resident did not have a long time and no one cared for cat traditions either.
The story continued in 1983, when a group of nuns moved in again with some cats. As the years passed, the number of animals started to increase, nowadays there are around 70 velvet soles running around between the walls of the monastery. Although the government supports nuns to a little bit, they can take care of the four-legged ones mainly by donations.