Chronically overrun by stray cats who wander into Rambam Medical Center looking for food, the Haifa hospital's management tried an unusual experiment: They left lions' excrement donated by the city zoo in open barrels on the grounds, hoping that the predator's feline smell would scare the cats away.
It was a roaring failure - or, it succeeded only until the excrement dried out, after which the cats returned.
Rambam said on Tuesday that it has tried everything to keep the street cats away, including a castration and neutering campaign, which experts thought would make the sterile cats chase the others away from their territory.
As some of the strays are sick and injured, patients, staff and visitors did not like the cats prowling the corridors, and the Health Ministry said the cats must not remain in the hospital.
As Rambam donates old medical equipment to the zoo for diagnosing and treating its animals, the zoo was pleased to contribute the lion excrement. But when management saw it was a deterrent only for two days, while wet, and that the cats returned when it dried out and lost its "fragrance," the hospital halted the experiment. Officials also worried if the excrement itself might spread germs.
So it's back to square one, with Rambam looking for another solution. If they find one, management worries that the lack of cats will bring about an epidemic of mice, rats and other pests.
Just in case, they have already received approval from a voluntary organization that is willing to lend Rambam some owls to eat the rodents at night.