The Shmooze

A Judge's Mixed Ruling on Israel's Cat Problem

By Nathan Jeffay

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It’s as divisive as the “are you a cat or a dog person?” question in America. Every Israeli has an opinion on the hundreds of thousands of ownerless cats that wander the country, rummaging through garbage and screeching at all hours.

Now the courts are getting involved. In a precedent-setting ruling a judge has just found a woman from Kiryat Tivon in Northern Israel guilty of causing nuisance by feeding ownerless cats and allowing them to congregate in the yard of the apartment block where she lives. He fined her… but then commended her for her compassion.

Legend has it that Israelis have the British to thank for the cats – they are said to have introduced them during the Mandate Era to fix a rodent problem. Now, they are everywhere.

To some people, despite their noisiness, the felines deserve feeding and friendship. The cats are good at swaying people to this view – when they have kittens they tend to camp outside a single house and look at the owners expectantly every time they go in or out. To others, they may have come to deal with a pest problem but they have become the pest.

But, with the judge’s mixed message, the issue isn’t likely to go anywhere soon.


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