Cat overpopulation in the Holy Land: Why it matters and what can be done

June 27, 2019 22:25
1 minute read.
VOLUNTEERS SAVED some 30 cats and dogs from being thrown into bonfires last year, including this kit

VOLUNTEERS SAVED some 30 cats and dogs from being thrown into bonfires last year, including this kitten.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

After 27 years, I returned to Jerusalem. A city I lived in, a city I loved. Okay, it was just for a one-week visit, but that counts.

My husband and I had an incredible time meeting new friends, visiting sights both in the city and surrounding areas and just “being” in Israel again. As was to be expected, we found the sight of so many feral cats and kittens heartbreaking.

I had hoped in the years since I had last been here that things would have improved. Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty things have gotten worse, certainly in terms of the sheer numbers of cats I saw everywhere I turned. I read that there are an estimated 100,000-200,000 feral cats just in Jerusalem: the most of any city in the Middle East, and some say on Earth.

So many Israeli inventions have literally changed the world, yet animal welfare and the prevention of suffering does not seem to be on this country’s radar.

While in Jerusalem, I met with volunteer cat rescuers who expressed a desire to see their work expanded. They don’t have the funds to purchase more humane cat traps or have more animals fixed, and they lack the people willing to help.

What is needed is a mass sterilization program. Unfortunately, the municipal government has not been effective in doing this, so until the Jerusalem Municipality really starts to take animal welfare seriously, it is up to the volunteer cat rescuers, and contributions of good people to fund and expand their work.

I have chosen to dedicate my efforts towards raising money for this initiative. My goal is to help make Jerusalem a place where we can honestly say that the suffering of feral cats has been eliminated, or at least greatly reduced. If our campaign is successful, Jerusalem will be praised for its concern for animals.

The writer is a long time animal welfare advocate. She is also a dog trainer, behavior consultant and senior dog care specialist, and can be reached at

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