• Kobi Tour Guide of Israel

Meet the Cats of Israel - All 2 Million of Them!

Yesterday was International Cat Day. In honor of that, let’s take a look at the cat situation in Israel.

It is estimated that there are some…. 2 million feral cats in Israel! That is 1 for every 4.5 people! Originally they were brought in by the British in the 1930s in order to deal with a rat problem. Now of course it has turned into a cat problem [though I will take cats over rats any day].


The Talmud talks about “tza’ar ba’alei chaim,” which tells us that we are not allowed to make animals suffer - including killing those which are no threat to humans. As such, the Israeli government made it illegal to poison the cats [and I’m going to guess that shooting them en mass, as the chef in the kibbutz I lived on when I first moved here would do, is probably also frowned upon]. Catching them and neutering them is only effective when you can get 70% of the population - so the few thousand a year the municipalities do doesn’t really make a dent in the overall population. Throw in a warm climate - which means 3 pregnancies per year and no freezing to death - and an abundance of food in the cities, not to mention an excess of Jewish cat ladies who keep feeding them [see video below], and you have a perfect breeding ground.


As a tour guide of Israel, the biggest problem I have with them is that I know I need to add in an extra 15 minutes to any tour to deal with the tourists - and in any group there is at least one of them - who will stop to take photos of all the cats we see on the way. And the worst thing of course is when people pet them and end up with a scratch and I need to send them off to the health clinic. So please, don’t pet the cats!


Still, here’s a bunch of stuff to know about cats in Israel :).


What’s the actual situation of street cats in Israel? Click here to find out: http://www.chai.org.il/en/companion/overpopulation_feral.htm


Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a new mayor named Moshe Leon (as in the great cat) started a new program to feed the street cats… https://www.israel21c.org/jerusalem-to-fund-feeding-stations-for-stray-cats/


Why are they a problem?

https://www.haaretz.com/life/nature-environment/.premium-what-s-wrong-with-feeding-jerusalem-s-street-cats-and-why-are-there-so-many-1.6895685


The Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv had an exhibit dedicated to cats just a few years ago and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem has a cats and dogs exhibit in the youth wing.

https://www.imj.org.il/en/exhibitions/cats-and-dogs

https://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/215/


The Mishna says - “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.” There is plenty to learn from nature as well. Here is a post of 7 things we can learn from Tel Aviv’s street cats:

https://theculturetrip.com/middle-east/israel/articles/7-essential-life-lessons-tel-avivs-cats-can-teach-us/


If you just want to see a bunch of cats from Jerusalem, click here:

https://www.famouscatsofjerusalem.com/


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