The Telegraph Article – Columbia Cat Care Project
The Columbia Cat Care Project (CCCP) started in 2009 and was an idea initiated by Columbia Beach Resort owner, Mr. Heinrich Schoeller. As an entity keen on caring for the environment and helping in the local community, Mr. Schoeller felt it was the resort’s responsibility to play its part and take action. The feral cat population in Cyprus was growing at a rate that was becoming difficult to control. Cats were unhealthy, uncared for and unloved – many were suffering. The resort team were inspired to support Mr. Schoeller in his aim of getting the feral cat population in and around the resort, and the area of Pissouri Bay, under control and most importantly healthy.
Comments Mr Schoeller on his involvement in CCCP: “The feral cat population in Cyprus was a known problem. It was growing beyond control and to the detriment of cats across the island. The Pissouri Bay area was no exception and it became my aim to somehow ensure these cats were cared for properly.
“Feral cats breed quickly, they come to be a nuisance and that tag can be a problem for both the cats and those people that live alongside them. I quickly understood that it didn’t have to be like that. As a responsible entity, Columbia Hotels & Resorts LTD could set the example in ensuring the cats were healthy and thriving, which made them a welcome sight in the area.
“I’m extremely proud of the CCCP, it’s work is immeasurable, and the people involved are excellent ambassadors for conservation and environmental care.”
The CCCP began in association with Barbara Bahlburg from “ZYPERNPFOTEN IN NOT”, an avid animal activist who at the time was helping to rehome stray Cypriot dogs in Germany. Together their objective was simple: bring the resident cat population back to health, control its growth and integrate them into local society.
Important steps were taken in those initial months, all cats had a health check and were treated as appropriate for illness and injury. They were all neutered, chipped and vaccinated, and to this day all receive regular health checks. Food and shelter were provided at Columbia Beach Resort and slowly the cats became part of the resort family.
The team on resort embrace the presence of the cats and certain personalities have quickly become ‘regulars’. Guests can interact with the cats, and it is very safe to do so, but equally the project isn’t overwhelming and the resort has found an excellent balance in terms of not encroaching on those guests that don’t want to make it part of their stay. All guests can find information on the Columbia Cat Care Project in suite, via the TV and within the stationary files provided by housekeeping.
Since its founding days, Ani has been Columbia Beach Resort’s resident ‘Cat Woman’. She knows all the cats by name, and they know her. Ani feeds the cats twice daily at dedicated ‘cat tavernas’ dotted around the resort. Her knowledge has grown considerably, and she now treats any minor illness or issues herself, in conjunction with the resort’s Vet.
CCCP works closely with CYVETS in Paphos, they know the cats well and offer a very modern clinic with knowledgeable doctors that can cater to the required level of care.
The CCCP is funded by the kind donations of guests. Everything received is put directly into the dedicated CCCP account and is used to ensure the cats stay healthy and happy. Our cats can be sponsored by guests for the small sum of €25 per year; this amount is put towards vet fees, food and ensuring the cat care facilities remain in top condition. Some of our cats have even been adopted and re-homed in Germany and the UK.
The resort generally finds that the CCCP is well received by all and guests often make a friend and will see that cat daily. In instances where guests are keen to keep in touch with the resort and receive updates on the cats, they can sign up to a dedicated mailing list – videos, Christmas cards and photos are issued throughout the year. To ensure guests can play an active role in the Columbia Cat Care Project initiatives such as the ‘Name a Cat’ programme, sees guests make name suggestions.
For any individual questions or queries regarding the CCCP, guests can contact reception at the resort or leave their contact details to be added to the mailing list for updates and news. Columbia Beach Resort is completely open about the project, welcoming feedback from all that will then be used to inform and shape the initiative moving forward.
Comments Anthea Vikis*, Columbia Cat Care Project Manager: “The Columbia Cat Care Project aims to inspire a level of support and understanding for the feral cat issue, not just on island but across the world. Backing an initiative such as this whilst on holiday can have a huge impact – we have funded a lot of the CCCP via guest donations.
“The team on resort work very hard to find and maintain a balance between ensuring the CCCP receives the necessary provisions and that guests aren’t negatively impacted by its presence. We are a resort that is passionate about environmental care and conservation and the CCCP is just one of the many initiatives we run that fits this ethos”.