The Cats of Tel Aviv

There are plenty of things worth paying attention to when in Tel Aviv, and one of those things that you won’t be able to avoid noticing are the street cats. This city is full of street cats.

I have always loved animals of all kinds, but in general I have considered myself a dog person. I still am a dog person, but living in Tel Aviv has also brough me closer to the cats. There is something special about cats. I maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there is something extra special about the cats in Tel Aviv.

Having lived here for six years now, I feel like I know all the cats in my neighbourhood. I even know some of the cats in other neighbourhoods. And I say I “know” them, because that is really how it is. I don’t recognize them, I know them, just like I know some of the people in the city. As in, I walk by them and want to wave and say “Boker tov, how’s your day going?”.

The cats here have a really strong personality, and they all have their areas where they like to hang. Some are more sophisticated, and like to hang where coffee and litterature is served.

Some are social, and prefer hanging out with their friends.

Some rule their block with a certain assertiveness one cannot help but to admire. While some look dodgy as hell, as if they are the leaders of some criminal gang (which might very well be the case) or the maffia, and they don’t even give a shit if you know about it.

Some are devoted mothers and family members.

And some are the cool kids and trouble-makers of the block.

Luckily, with all the cats roaming the streets in Tel Aviv, there are also a lot of animal lovers in the city who do their best to take care of them. Because in the end of the day, life on the streets is not always easy. Winters can be cold and rainy, while summers are way too hot for any living being to be comfortable without an AC. And eating food from the dumpsters probably gets pretty old after a while.

Many people put out food and water for the cats around the city. And some of the cats who get injured or sick are taken in for vetrinary care. Unfortunately, far from all of them get the care they need, despite the efforts of kind-hearted humans. There are also evil people out there who choose to mistreat the street cats.

I always had a soft spot for animals, and it really hurts me to see any animal suffer. And while many of the cats in my area are seemingly healthy and well fed, every now and then I come across one in poor shape. For example, I found this kitten in my backyard a few years ago, too sick and weak to move. I brought her to the vet, and took care of her at home until she was strong and healthy again. She recovered fully, except the fact that she lost one eye due to the infection. I couldn’t keep her, since I already have another cat, so I reunited her with her family. I pay her a visit whenever I can, and she always runs up to me when I do, so I believe she still remembers me.

My own cat is also from the streets. I found her when she was about six months old and alone in the dark. She had been abandoned by her mother at a very early stage, someone else had bottle-fed her and then put her back out on thre streets. It was never my intention to get a cat, since it doesn’t really fit the lifestyle of myself and my boyfriend. Yet, one night I found myself carrying that kitten home through the city, wondering the whole way if this was really a wise idea. It wasn’t, but nobody ever said love makes us do smart things. She turned out to be quite a personality, maybe one of the strongest personalities I’ve met among the cats in this city, and she still is, five years later.

Bottom line, as charming as some of the street cats are here in Tel Aviv, and as much as they have become a part of the city, and the symbols of some places, there are still a lot of cats out there who are suffering. Cats who get sick or injured, and kittens who get abandoned. Many of these cats are brought to shelters, where animal rescuers work hard to try and find them an adoption family who can take them home an give them the love and care they deserve. So if you are a person who don’t mind saving a life and gaining a new best friend, there are places full of kittens waiting to be adopted or at least fostered. For example, the Tiny Pet Rescue is one such place. Also Tel Aviv Municipal Dog Shelter, even if they mainly focus on abandoned dogs (so you should definately go there if you’re looking to foster or adopt a dog), they also bring in a lot of kittens who need homes urgently. People choosing to foster or adopt a homeless cat or dog is the difference between living and dying for many of those animals. It’s worth thinking about.

Having said that, I believe it’s time for me to go down and put out some food and water for my neighboures (the cats).