Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The Feral Cats Of Israel
One thing is for sure: there are a lot of feral and stray cats in Israel. I have been there and seen them first hand. The picture at the top of the page is of feral cats in Tel Aviv. In that city there is one feral cat for every person. They live a harsh life but people like to feed them and as you can see in the photograph the cats like to procreate. 20,000 cats and kittens are received by shelters every year in the Tel Aviv region alone.
Apparently, in the 1980s the idea of neutering feral cats came about but before that stray and feral cat population control was somewhat cruder; poisoning on masse, which brings to mind the treatment dished out to feral cats in Greece after the holiday season. Apparently, strychnine was used to poison the cats of Israel.
Population control by poisoning is now illegal. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled against the poisoning of cats in June 2004. Trap-neuter-return is now the norm and it seems that the Israelis have taken this well-known process of feral cat control to new heights.
They are doing something that I have argued for, for a long-time and which should or could happen in the United States of America.
In late 2013 Israeli Minister of agriculture and rural development committed about US$1.27 million to the sterilisation of 45,000 feral cats by the end of May 2014. Central government is providing subsidies to each municipality on a matching bases to help them with their trap-neuter-return programs.
The Israeli government has realised that there is a need to manage feral and stray cats and are doing the right thing in operating trap-neuter-return programs which are acknowledged to be the most humane way to manage these unfortunate cats who live hard and short lives and which present a health hazard to people, it is believed.
I would suggest that this TNR program is the largest of its kind in the world. The Israeli government's attitude towards feral cats is in line with their ban on the declawing of cats. Israel is one of many advanced countries in which declawing is banned. That said, by the way, I would expect very few Israelis to want to declaw their cat.
Photo of Alley Cats in Heat - feral feline sex in Tel Aviv by David Shankbone on Flickr (if you don't see the picture it has been pulled by David on Flickr.