Birth of a New Cat Breed

by Michael
(London, UK)

Cyprus Cat - photo by galarapid

Cyprus Cat - photo by galarapid

The birth of a new cat breed is being acted out on the island where the most ancient evidence of the domestic cat was found – Cyprus. In 2001 a French archaeologists discovered a human grave that was assessed to be 9,500 years old with a pet cat next to the deceased person. The site was in Shillourokambos. Experts have decided that the domestic cat evolved from the Near Eastern wild cat some 9,500 years ago. The grave was evidence of the earliest example of cat domestication.

cypriot cat tabby and white

There is then a very long (the longest) history of domestication of the cat in Cyprus and yet they have not (until now) laid claim to their own naturally occurring purebred cat. There are many cat breeds that are exclusively linked to a country where they are said to have evolved naturally and then been“discovered” by a breeder. Having been discovered the cat was then developed into a well known and established breed. Examples are the Siamese (Siam – Thailand), Chartreux (France), British Shorthair (Britain), Japanese Bobtail, Manx and the Turkish Angora and Van to name a selection only.

It seems that the Cypriots have decided it is their turn to have their own cat but there is competition. The cat fancy worldwide has well and truly moved on from the days when the breeds above were discovered. There are many more breeders and it is more commercial.

It would seem that the chance to start a new breed that originates from the home of the domestic cat (Cyprus) is very enticing and there is competition from cat associations and/or breeders in other countries to turn two types of cat in Cyprus (presumably domestic, semi-feral and feral) into a purebred cat.

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Map above showing the close proximity of Cyprus to Turkey (and specifically Van). Is the Cypriot cat the same as the undeveloped Turkish Van?

DNA testing by Davis University, California would seem to have established that there are two types of unregistered purebred cat in Cyprus and the Cypriot Feline Society would like them to be recognised as cats that are exclusively linked to Cyprus. These cat types have been called:

  1. The Aphrodite. A breed that is is larger, stronger and taller than the other cat which has been called the
  2. St Helena. The St Helena is smaller in size, with larger eyes but a smaller face.

Probably, the problem is that other cat associations are better placed to develop the cat and turn it into a cat breed. I suspect that the Cypriot Feline Society is not as active as those in the countries such as England and the USA.

Apparently, associations or breeders in Turkey and Germany are interested in developing the new breed. There was a flurry of new breeds in the middle of 20th century but later in the century there was a tendency to over develop; to create a breed too far out of nothing. So a new breed from Cyprus that has a natural pedigree in place already as the birthplace of the domestic cat must seem attractive to breeders looking to develop a new cat breed.

So will the birth of a new breed happen? Cyprus better get their skates on. Without wishing to be unkind it seems that the block of countries in the area, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are not that into the cat fancy thing. The Aegean cat that lives on the Cyclades Islands off the Greek coast is an example of a semi-domestic cat that is meant to be a purebred cat breed in the making but its development seems to be firmly fixed in the infancy stage. However, the Cypriot Feline Society held there annual cat show at Grosvenor beach. So there is an active cat fancy in Cyprus.

cyprus cat looking like a Turkish Van cat

Above - Cypriot cat that has the classic Turkish Van marking. I will take a guess and say that this cat is an Aphrodite. Is this cat going to be a part of the birth of a new cat breed or is this just an undeveloped Turkish Van?

It is interesting, though, to see the possible birth of a new cat breed. It is a shame that we do not have official photographs of the two cats. Although the cats wandering around Cyprus as illustrated on this page (of which there are many) are probably the cats being talked about. As the climate is very hot in Cyprus I would have expected these cats to be classic tabby and white or solid and white cats and a short coat and the photos bear this our (see Flickr photos on this page published under a Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license). It seems that some resemble the Turkish Van (see photo above taken in Omodos, Cyprus), which has a solid and white coat with specific markings. Could some of the Cypriot cats be Turkish Vans? The countries are neighbours and this would seem very possible.

Now, how will the cat fancy “refine” them? Leave them alone, I say.


Update 4th February 2011:

new breed of cat in Cyprus

Here are some photos of the Aphrodite and St Helen's breeds from Cyprus.

Whilst awaiting information as to their genetic make-up I suggest that they are a blend of the White Turkish Van and Egyptian cats. The large body size is of the Turkish Van and the face type is ideally similar to the triangular faced long-nosed Egyptian cat.

Good examples of the Aphrodite breed have been exhibited at several WCF Shows in Germany and Italy and rec ognition should take place some time this year.

DNA samples of the the 2 new breeds have been submitted to UC Davis and the results are expected shortly.

Harvey Harrison (Lapta, Cyprus)

Birth of a New Cat Breed to Cat Facts

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Birth of a New Cat Breed

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Feb 18, 2012 Cyppies in U.S.? NEW
by: Kurt

In June I was priveleged to have a WONDERFUL kitten come into my life. His name is Robin Hood. I was surfing,and found this site. I about jumped out of my chair. My boy bears a striking resemblence to the 1 in the window bars! He also has hairy-not fuzzy,HAIRY-ears,he's had 'em as long as I've known him. he's 10 months old.

Great site,btw! Kalemara!


Feb 09, 2012 New Cat Breed NEW
by: Cat Breeder

I'm also working on my own breed. From a family of cats but I allow any cat that fits the standard in the breeding program. They aren't a fancy (or even purebred) breed. They probably have the most variation of any breed (but still it's hard to find cats with all the traits) I want my breed listed on this website. The breed is called Pawnee because I like that name and I think it fits the breed. I only have a few pictures of two of my cats. I have also made a standard. E-mail rrrhatchery@yahoo.com for more information.


Sep 21, 2011 Cyprus Cats
by: Harvey Harrison

Hi Anonymous: Certainly the CyFs has been more of a hindrance than a help to the development of these 2 new Cyprus breeds. Right from the beginning they alienated the 2 main Aphrodite breeders on the island by slapping a prohibition on the export or showing overseas of these cats. Despite their own ban they have recently exported a so-called Aphrodite to Poland. There is quite a lot of information and some photos of these 2 new breeds in Pictures of Cats. I will be glad to supply you with more if required. My E-mauil is vancats1938@yahoo.com . They have been shown in several European countries with great success especially the llelayne cats which are the founders of the Aphrodite breed. I have no idea how the CyFs is faring but since they have a poor idea of what an Aphrodite is and their showing overseas ban I suppose they are making little progress.


Sep 21, 2011 Cyprus feline society shortcomings
by: Anonymous

Some of the photos are of Turkish Van. The problem is that there are virtually no information on these two new breeds. The cypriot feline society just did an awful job regarding this. Their website is one of the worst. They made no attempt as to making public that characteristics of each breed and providing an adequate number of pictures for each breed. Most cypriots including cat owners and cat lovers do not even know about this. I have no idea how you can get new breeds registered since the average cypriot joe has no clue because the Cyprus feline society did nothing to inform and educate.


Feb 05, 2011 HI Harvey
by: Michael

I have updated the page with your photos and short submission. Hope that is OK. Best..Michael.


Feb 04, 2011 Birth of a new cat Breed
by: Harvey harriosn

Hi Michael

My comment was to clarify some of your own comments as follows.

1. Cypriots are not at all active in developing the new breeds. This task falls to us expats.

2. The Turkish Van and Turkish Angora in their original forms do exist in Cyprus. This should come as no surprise given the length of time Cyprus was part of the Ottoman Empire. The samples I submitted in 2007 established these facts.

3. Myself, Mrs Litherland, and Mrs Niland are indeed very active in the development of the Aphrodite in Cyprus, but we haven't seen any activity in Greece or Turkey. This new breed appears to be a blend of Turkish and Egyptian cats, which combination may not exist in other countries. Thus far the Aphrodite can only be registered if it's Cyprus origins can be proven.

Best wishes.


Feb 04, 2011 Hi Harvey
by: Michael

Thanks for the comment and the submission. I was just figuring out what to do with your submission.

You have uploaded four photos which I can put on this page.

However, if you want to email me with more details I can add them to this page or build another one.

My email address can be found on this page:

Creator of PoC

Michael Avatar


Feb 04, 2011 Cyprus New Breeds, a blend of Turkey and Egypt
by: Harvey Harrison

It is very gratifying to see that Michael has posted an interesting article about the 2 new and ancient Cyprus cat breeds. Ancient because obviously they been in existence for a very long time only waiting to be recognised.

Several of the samples I sent to UC Davis did indeed prove to be perfectly good Turkish Vans, furthermore one cat from North Cyprus (Yeni Yildiz of Angorarama) proved to have exactly the same unique markers as a Turkish Angora (Minos of Angorarama) from the Ankara Zoo.

Very well furred semi-longhaired cats do exist here despite the very hot climate. They also retain the sturdy well-muscled bodies of cats originating in or adapted to cold climates.

Please note that the Ankara Zoo Angoras thus far have proven to be closely related to the Turkish Van. The American cat fancy Angora is not a Turkish cat at all.

Leslie Lyons at UC Davis will shortly conduct round 2 of the Turkish Van Diversity program, in which European Turkish Vans and proven Vans from Turkey, , Turkish Angoras recenty descended from or cats straight from the Ankara Zoo, Aphrodites and St Helen's from Cyprus, and a wide selection of general population Cyprus cats, will be examined.

This round will be very important in order to clarify the genetic structure of the true Turkish Angora and to determine what ancestry makes uo the Aphrddite. One of my cats Angorarama mukker was judged as a St Helen's but UC Davis have classidied him as a Turkish van, He does not have the classic Van markings, which are after all superficial, but in all other respects he is a Turkish Van.

Quite a lot of Aphrodites have travelled to Germany and participated in WCF Cat Shows where they received quite a reception.

The Cyprus Feline Society, far from developing and promoting the breed have slapped an export prohibition on these new breeds claiming they belong to Cyprus. The 3 most important breeders on the island have severed all relations with the CyFS because of this obviously counter productive ban imposed without any consulation with the breeders.

Never-the-less the development of the breeds is going well despite the CyFS's attempts to sabotage it all through a campaign of disinformation and rabble rousing.

I have lots of pictures of these new breeds.

Michael, where do I post them, and the UC Davis Feline Phylogentic tree?


Feb 04, 2011 Hi
by: Sinan

Hi

Im a turk living in canada and i would like to buy a pure turkish angora kitten.

Where can i find one?

Can you contact me please.

Thank you!

Rohff18@gmail.com


Jan 14, 2010 Aphrodites and UC Davis
by: Harvey Harrison

I would like to emphasize that the UC Davis Feline Genome Project, i.e. Professor Leslie Lyons' team, has NOT identified 2 distinct Cyprus breeds, referring to the Aphrodite and St Helen's. Prof Lyons was queried about this claim, and she replied that she had made no such remark.

The use of the word " remark " is important because no findings have yet been published.

In fact it was myself who sent in the first Aphrodite samples and was advised that they will be stored until work is started on the Cyprus cats study.

The statement by Drite Sjekloca to the Cyprus Mail " In cooperation with scientists from Davis University, California, the CyFs have identified 2 separate breeds of Cypriot cats ", is false.

Followed by " The DNA samples will be sent to laboratories at Davis University in California for analysis as a first step to registering the Cypriot cat as a pedigree breed ".

Therefore she is saying that UC Davis and the CyFS have jointly identified the St Helen's and Aphrodite without even receiving their DNA samples.

What can one say about such nonsense?

My view is, when the study is completed the findings will be used to help breeders understand the origins of these breeds and use them as a guide to breed for original type.

The samples I sent in to UC Davis in 2007 were not for known Aphrodites but to confirm the origins of Cyprus Van Cats. The Aphrodites have rather a different appearanca from the Vans and the genetic studies will no doubt explain that.

The Cyprus cat study includes a wide varity of types of cat including, Vans, Angoras, shorthaired and semi-longhaired, F s Lybica look-alikes, etc. This is to enable a wider undestanding of the many types of cat in Cyprus.

Finally genetic proof of the St Helen's and Aphrodite breeds is impossible because their genetic markers do not exist in any data bank. This study will only identify what known breeds make up these 2 proposed " new " breeds. Hopefully some hitherto unkown markers will be found.


Jan 12, 2010 Some Photos illustrating the breed
by: HARVEY HARRISON

These photos have been added by Michael from photos sent to me by Harvey. Thanks a lot, Harvey - fine cats - fine photos. And a very useful comparison between the Turkish Van and an Aphrodite.

I have put them in another comment as the limit is 3000 characters and you filled up the comment :)! Great comment.

Here are the photos:

Aphrodite Cypriot new breed of cat
Isadora, Aphrodite female - Photo Harvey Harrison of Angorarama Cattery
...Mersin 10, Turkey

Balkar 4, Aphrodite male - Photo Harvey Harrison
Balkar 4, Aphrodite male - Photo Harvey Harrison

LEFT Turish Van kitten, RIGHT Aphrodite kitten, showing the difference - photo Harvey Harrison
LEFT Turish Van kitten, RIGHT Aphrodite kitten, showing the difference - photo Harvey Harrison


Jan 10, 2010 For the Aphrodite and shun the CyFS.
by: Harvey Harrison

I have been asked by Teresa (llelaynecats) to add my comments and perhaps shed more light on events surrounding the Aphrodite. I also am an Aphrodite breeder cooperating with Teresa.

Teresa and I severed all relations with the CyFs on account of their unilateral and undemocratically arrived upon ruling that the Aphrodite cannot be exported nor shown outside of Cyprus.

It is inconceivable that Teresa, who has some 90% of all known Aphrodites, was not consulted on the matter, and was just supposed to accept this ruling which would ensure that this breed would join the ranks of experimental breeds that disappeared into obscurity.

Confining the breed to Cyprus which can accurately be described as a cat hostile and unfriendly island would kill the breed. Few are interested in cats here and many regard them as vermin suitable only for extermination.

The claims that the CyFs first recognized the breed and laid down the standards is completely false as stated by Teresa.

In fact, at a recent CyFS Show at Governor's Beach, Limassol, when several dignitaries from Cyprus governemnt and Church were invited not only to see these wonderful cats but, I think, primarily to hear the racially and politically charged denouncements against Turkey, North Cyprus and Germany, in order to recruit the nationalist sentiments and support of the Greek and Greek Cypriot community.

One small error. Since myself and Teresa were banned from attending or showing, the absence of Aphrodites was virtually complete. I think the remaining CyFS members could only produce one Aphrodite for the Show and that was from Llelayne cattery.

One has to have serious doubts regarding the health of any person that would intentionally bring upon themselves this humiliating situation.
The accusation of foreigners stealing the cats is also indicative of an unhealthy mind. How would one steal something that does not belong to anyone? The cats of Cyprus are free-roaming and there is no legislation that allocates ownership to anyone, except assumed private rights of ownership.

With the Aphrodite and St Helen's programs we hope to change the way in which Cypriots view their cats by showing them that these cats are indeed a national treasure, and deserve much better treatment than normally meeted out to them.
Regarding the Feline Genome Program at UC Davis, it was myself who first submitted DNA samples of Cyprus cats for analysis in 2007, long before the CyFS even knew about these "new" breeds.

The results do show strong Turkish influences but also DNA markers from Israel and Egypt. New DNA analysis will be conducted later this year to hopefully clarify this.Incidentally there are no native Cyprus cats. All of them are imports from surrounding countries and as far away as the Caucasus region.

Aphrodite Giant Mountain cats? Of course.


Dec 03, 2009 Hi Llelayne,
by: Lolita

I'm an editor of Moi Ostrov magazine (it's a Russian language magazine in Cyprus). I would like to write an article about your cats.

How can I contact you?

My e-mail is editor@moiostrov.com


Dec 02, 2009 re
by: Kimon K

I totally agree with you Llelayne about cats and politics. I thought though it had some interest that this particular article was also published from Kathimerini and Vima (with some changes probably) which are cosidered to be neutral and reliable newspapers in Greece.

Furthermore I honestly did not spend much time to examine the site's political view or anything. I only wanted to represent how an animal rescue issue finds its way to publicity.

The sad thing about these new breeds was that they became popular to the public in Greece or to those around the globe that don't have anything to do with cats and animals generally, through its political aspect..or together with this political aspect.

But after all maybe politics is just a way that people like to be involved in things since it seems to attract their interest, their instincts as social beings. I don't know.

At the end of the day, I believe Aphrodite and St. Helen (and Aegean one day) will find the right place in people's hearts.

Because me, for instance, I love cats and i only see that they are real beauties.

Just for the record, i live with two cats. one domestic, probably rooted from Africa and one Turkish Van.


Dec 02, 2009 Cyprus Aphrodite Cats at Athens show
by: Llelayne

I should like to thank Kimon K for his kind comments about my Aphrodite cat Jacob who had such success at the Athens show.

Jacob won Best of Variety and Best in Show Unrecognized Breed. He created a lot of interest amongst other exhibitors, members of the public and the media. Cyprus can be proud of their native Aphrodite's Giant cat.

The second native Cyprus breed, the St Helen's, was not on show. Although I have a St Helen's I do not breed them preferring to concentrate on developing the Aphrodite.

I am concerned that Kimon gave a link to a highly divisive newspaper article. There is no evidence whatsoever that Northern Cypriots, the Turks or Germans are remotely interested in 'stealing' the Cypriot cat. This is just total hype, reported as fact. The hype came from the President of the Cyprus Feline Society in an effort to whip up support for their claim to the Cyprus cat. Please see my previous article for this website.

The nastiness only started after I resigned from the Cyprus Feline Society over their dictatorial and disorganised policies.

The last thing that this fledgling breed needs is to be caught up in political and racial wrangling for people's personal ends. These beautiful cats deserve to be celebrated and nurtured. Cyprus should be proud of its feline heritage. Nobody can remove or 'steal' a cat's paternity.

I have never made, nor intend to make, money out of these cats. To date I have given all bar one of my kittens away. The money that I received for the one kitten did not in fact cover my costs. All kittens leaving here are fully vaccinated, passported and health checked.

These cats belong to Cyprus but they do not deserve to be trapped in Cyprus where they die in their thousands every year through poisoning, road accidents, shooting and general neglect through overpopulation.


Dec 01, 2009 the show in Athens
by: Kimon K

the two breeds of Cypriot cats were represented three days ago in the Greek Felline's Association show that was held in Athens. everyone was happily surprised with their beauty and uniqueness. Furthermore the Aegean cat was also represented there with big success.

The problem in Greece though is that there is only one cat breeder trying to get recognition of this native breed.

Congratulation to the Cypriot breeders and to the Cypriot society that contributed to the recognition.

The Cypriot cats are really unique and you can see that withouth a DNA test.

I give you a link that i found on the internet from a recent article which was also published in some reliable greek newspapers few days ago.

http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/cat-row-deepens-cyprus-turkey-dispute/article-187566?Ref=RSS


Nov 24, 2009 Update
by: Michael

Here is an update. Teresa Litherland has kindly sent me some photographs. She describes these two photos as follows:

"Cassidy is the cat that started my interest in the native Cyprus cat. He won Best in Show Semi-Longhair Neuter National Breed at the CyFS show in Larnaca, May 2009. Jacob, his g.g.grandson, won Best in Show National Breed at the same show and subsequently 2nd Best in Show Adult at the Supreme Show in Berlin October 2009."

Cyprus cat
Jacob

Cyprus cat
Cassidy

Thanks a lot for the photos. It is much appreciated...Michael


Nov 21, 2009 Llelayne - thank you
by: Michael

Hi Llelayne - thank you for the comment. It is very much appreciated. Through comments like yours (first hand - the best) we get much more certainty and accuracy and I love that.

If you have a picture please email it to me and I will add it to the comments or the article. My email:

mjbmeister [at] gmail.com

Just change [at] for @

Thanks


Nov 20, 2009 Cyprus Aphrodite cats
by: Llelayne

There appears, as usual, to have been some considerable mis-reporting about the Aphrodite cats.

Very shortly after arriving here in 2005 we were adopted by a very beautiful honey coloured cat whom we named Cassidy. He is a very large, semi-longhaired cat with a strong triangular face, high-set ears, long body with slightly longer back than front legs and a magnificent bushy tail. I was immediately struck both by his looks and character and wondered what he was. TV? No, Turkish Angora - not quite. As a retired TV breeder I was fascinated!!

I decided to have a one-off litter to see what was produced, but quickly became hooked and we now have our fifth generation of Cassidy look-alikes!

In November 2008 an International All Breed Cat Judge visited Cyprus and identified two breeds that he named St Helen's and Aphrodite's Giants. He also at this time drew up a standard of points for both breeds.

Examples of the breeds were exhibited for the first time at the CyFS show at the end of January and at a further show in May.

Although there had been some discussions at CyFS board meetings about approaching Professor Lyons at the Feline Genome Project at University of Davis California this was only done in September of this year and she replied in early October agreeing to look at DNA samples from Cyprus cats. It is therefore quite wrong to say that the university had anything to do with identifying the breeds. The samples have only been sent this week!!!

Because of my very serious concerns about the advisability of proceeding with a breeding project that will, perforce, produce a considerable number of kittens on an island already overburdened with feral and ill-treated cats I suggested to the Board that we needed to have a two-pronged approach. Those who felt ready and able to take cats abroad which have already been accepted as good samples should follow the advice of the CyFS' Governing Body and show at exhibitions so the cats get known. Otherwise, in my opnion, we shall be breeding cats with a very uncertain future.

Sadly, there is now a really nasty political element creeping in. Apparently foreigners, Turkey and the North are trying to 'steal' the cat. This is not only nonsense, but dangerous nonsense at that. In a country with such a tumultuous and difficult past the last thing that is needed is irresponsible and inflammatory reporting.

Why then you may wonder did I decide to do this? Firstly - sheer curiosity. Secondly because I realised we could be onto something and now, finally, because I know we've got something really special here which the Cypriots and all residents of Cyprus can be really proud of. If that pride is developed and becomes respect and concern for the welfare of the indigenous feline population then it could make a real difference. This may take a long time, but am I really being impossibly naive in hoping it might be so?


Nov 18, 2009 Leave those cats to be what they are!
by: Everycat

I'm in total agreement with you. A new breed with its roots in an indigenous and flourishing cat population - great! But nature knows best, unlike so many breeders who develop a new breed focussing on form rather than function.

I've been to Cyprus and remember the beautiful fine coated cats there. Perfectly suited to their environment.

It would be a tragedy for those breeders who are so often desperate to substitute speed for sensible and natural husbandry to get their paws on this beautiful cat and turn it into something it never should be.

Leave those cats to be what nature intended them to be. Both beautiful and functional in equal measure :)



Comments

Birth of a New Cat Breed — 2 Comments

  1. The unpublished but widely available 2012 Turkish Cat Genetics Study by Prof Leslie Lyons, et al, attempts to justify the Cyprus Aphrodite as a distinct East Mediterranean breed found only on Cyprus. In fact the genetic markers for the Aphrodite are identical to the Turkish Angora or Ankara kedisi samples from Marmaris and the Ankara Zoo and others, as proven by the raw genetic data contained in the same report. She thus denies that cats from Turkey and the Ankara Zoo are the legitimate Turkish Angoras, and in order to protect the American cat fancy Turkish Angora impostors, she assigns those native Turkish cats together with the Aphrodites to the same newly invented Cyprus Group. At least this does clarify that they are the same breed! But that breed is not the Aphrodite but the ancient Turkish Angora. Upon discovering that the American Angora differs from bona fide Turkish samples a new set of Turkish samples was miraculously created out of thin air which matched the American Angora’s DNA signatures. These same old random-bred Turkish street cat samples had been used in the 2007 The Ascent of Cat Breeds study and showed no relationship to American Angoras. Now they had mitaculously metamorphosed into matching samples. Unfortunately for that to be credible there is the published Tuft’s Lyons Conferences phylogenetic tree which shows American Angoras are a melange of American and European breeds and not Turkish at all! Therefore we have the hilarious spectacle of a world renowned genetics Professor telling us that Turkish random bred cats found in the streets of Istanbul and Ankara are actually American and European cats plus Siamese and Egyptian Maus, and that the ancient Turkish Angoras as found in the Ankara Zoo are actually Cyprus cats. This humiliating performance is on account of a feeble-minded attempt to authenticate the American Angora impostor instead of having the courage to tell the truth. In short there is no such breed as the Aphrodite or the St Helen, and the American cat fancy Angora is a fake. As a result the permitted out-crossing of Ankara Zoo cats with cat fancy Angoras is an idiosyncratic out-crossing between unrelated breeds. And the farce goes on. PLEASE NOTE THAT MY ABOVE STATEMENTS ARE BASED ON RAW GENETIC DATA AND ARE NOT OPINIONS.

  2. Pingback: Persian Kittens Cyprus

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