Just a few decades ago there were less than a handful of these, at least of formal organisations. Our focus shall be groups that would be of immediate interest to a street cat (so, for example, the Israeli Primate Sanctuary is out of our scope). Relevant services include free or low-cost medical care, spaying/neutering, shelter for needy animals, adoptions and foster care, help with trapping, emergencies and rescues and a telephone hotline, and so on. There is no way to be comprehensive, but this should at least give an idea of the number of non-profit organisations operating today, which is a good sign.
SPCA: the SPCA is an old-school animal welfare organisation and its activity in Israel began in the 1920s during the time of the British mandate (the United Kingdom was a leader in this field!). There are branches in several cities around Israel. It operates an animal shelter and arranges adoptions, taking care that the animals be healthy and go to good homes. It also operates a low-cost medical clinic covering basic and emergency care and a trap/neuter/release programme.
Israeli Cat Lovers’ Society: this one operates around Haifa and was founded in 1966. Like the other organisations, they subsidize spaying and neutering of street cats and help to arrange for medical care and emergency/rescue services. Recently they also began operating a spay/neuter and urgent-care clinic out of their shelter. They also donate food!
SOS Pets: founded in 1978 (with a cat division officially opened in 2004), they do not operate a shelter but rather focus on foster care and re-homing for adoption. The cat division does trap/neuter/release and provides medical care for sick street cats.
Concern for Helping Animals: operating since 1984, works against mass poisoning and other cruelty. In 2002 they launched the first mobile spay/neuter laboratory in the Middle East, operating out of a van!
Let Animals Live: another locally well-known group, this organisation dates from 1986 and is against the mass killing of healthy animals, as the name suggests; instead it promotes sterilization as a means of population control. They too run a shelter for cats and dogs together with a veterinary clinic. They have an animal ambulance and will go out of their way to immediately rescue distressed or abused animals, rehabilitate them, and find them good homes.
Roof for Animals: a big shelter serving the southern Tel-Aviv area, founded in 1989.
Cat Welfare Society of Israel: founded in 1990 by an individual in Even-Yehuda. Operates a shelter and adoption centre and advocates trap/neuter/release.
Other local groups: These include: Eilat Loves Animals (1992), Rishon Loves Animals (2002), Herzeliya Loves Animals (2003), Raanana Cats (2004), Spay Israel (2005), Rehovot Loves Animals, Arad for Animals.
Large and small, all of these groups depend on private donations for funds (though there is a meagre amount of government support for well-established ones) and on volunteers to run the shelters and provide veterinary services. The fact that the number of local groups has exploded, especially after the turn of the century, is encouraging and makes networking possible.
It is crucial that people know of their existence, otherwise all the effort is for nothing. What good are all the facilities in the world to a small kitten in the street, crying for days while people indifferently walk by? Information is also not enough by itself if no one takes personal responsibility, as in the psychological experiments where passers-by ignored a man appearing to collapse on the pavement. Perhaps we cannot change human nature, but such abominable behaviour seems more a result of twisted cultural values.