Categories: feral cats

Are Israel’s stray cats a cause for concern?

Yes, Israel’s stray cats are a cause for concern. I think this has to be an obvious conclusion because it is impossible to manage the welfare of these cats in which case they will suffer from health problems through neglect. As the ultimate cause of the problem is poor decision-making by humans, it is incumbent upon humans to resolve the problem. The problem is not being resolved through a lack of government commitment.

Protest concerning the cats of Israel. Photo: Moran Maayan.

I have been to Jerusalem myself and seen first-hand the community cats scurrying around the city eating and living off the streets. There are many people who like to feed community cats in Israel and of course the climate is conducive to increasing the population of feral cats. It is believed that there are about 2 million community or feral cats in Israel which is almost one quarter of the country’s human population. Some municipalities such as Tel Aviv are carrying out TNR programs to manage these cat populations but it appears that cat reproduction is more efficient than their management of TNR programs. As I understand it, there is an ongoing debate, sometimes heated, about how to deal with the feral cats of Israel. Meanwhile kind people want to feed them which arguably perpetuates their existence. It appears that they are often fed with low quality dry cat food anyway which itself can cause health problems (as a sole food).

The video below adds some detail but it does not address the central issue which is how to humanely reduce the community cat population in Israel. The only way to do it, in fact, is for the government to step up to the plate and greatly increase the budget to allow grants to be given to volunteer organisations and nonprofits to greatly extend TNR programs across the country particularly in Jerusalem. There needs to be a blitzkrieg effect of well conducted and managed TNR programs. This is the only way you can do the job humanely. Good TNR programs include feeding cats so there should be no argument against it from people who like to feed the cats. Nobody could say that it is inhumane and cruel to carry out this form of feral cat population reduction.

Please note that sometimes videos disappear on its website because they are removed at source often on YouTube for various reasons by the administrators. I can’t control this and I’m sorry if this video has disappeared.

This is the root of the problem. The local municipalities and the country’s government are uncommitted to dealing with the cats. Perhaps they accept them. They might even believe that they are an asset to Jerusalem because they are, after all, a kind of feature of the city. If that is the attitude then it is neglectful. It does not take into account the welfare of the cats. Many of these cats are going to be either mildly or seriously ill. This is not a situation which should be accepted in government.

The title asked whether the cats are a cause for concern. There are two reasons why they are a concern. Firstly, the welfare and health of these cats is not being addressed properly. That must be a cause of concern to animal lovers and those concerned about animal welfare. Secondly, their presence up to a certain limit is perhaps beneficial because it keeps down the rat or rodent population. But it appears that their numbers are greater than needed for that purpose and therefore they become a health issue for humans at least potentially and a source of aggravation to society (see picture). It is clearly wrong to have large numbers of community cats in society. It is a symptom of a failure in the domestication of the cat. Does the government want to advertise the fact that they are a failure when it comes to the domestication of the cat? It is a sign of a government that lacks sensitivity towards animal welfare. This is not something that the Israeli government wants to project to the world.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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