Cats after the war

This photo from the Haifa-based Israeli Cat-Lovers Society is an interesting juxtaposition of cats and the recent war:

In Lebanon, BETA continues its work in the suburbs of Beirut:

We stayed with them and we will never leave them. They are those who cannot speak, those who cannot comprehend what is happening around them, those who never had anything to do with this war, and those who were left behind.

While this forum and others have referenced efforts to rescue and care for pets on both sides of the conflict, the following AP article suggests that there is little or no cooperation between groups on either side:

More, the Israeli animal rescuer, said her group [Ahava] had contacted BETA to offer assistance in evacuating animals, “but they are not interested in being in touch with us.''…She said Ahava has proposed meeting fleeing Lebanese in boats in international waters to collect their pets. “Believe me, dogs and cats in Lebanon don't see themselves as political animals. They just want to leave.''

El-Massih said BETA was never contacted by the Israeli animal rights group, although it did receive a sympathy e-mail from a former member of Ahava who now lives in the United States.

If true, this is another sad development in the erosion of civil society amid the tribalism that dominates the Middle East and elsewhere…

Update on cats in war

This is a follow-up to my previous posts about cats in Israel and Lebanon.

First, the following update from BETA in Lebanon:

On the 28th of July, BETA team re-entered the Beirut southern suburbs (one of the war zones) to feed the stray and abandoned pets. On the way, we encountered an abandoned pet shop and were able to retrieve some of the surviving animals – four cats and one puppy .

On the 2nd of August, and for the third time, BETA team, accompanied by a PETA representative who came all the way to Beirut to help our animals, have been able to enter that same area. Again, we put food and water for the strays and fed the rest of the animals at the abandoned pet shop -pigeons, birds, and turtles- We will come back to pick them up as soon as the pet shop owner unlock the cages.

We also visited the small zoo and made sure that the worker is still there feeding the remaining animals.

People are working to help cats and other animals left behind during the evacuations and attacks in northern Israel as well. A reader of this forum responded with the following information about current situation and the groups active there:

Bashan Shelter is located in Israel near the Lebanese border. They are
taking in animals abandonned by people who fled south in search of safety.
At great risk to their own personal safety they are also making the rounds
surrounding communities distributing food and water to the animals that
remain behind and to people also. This totally volunteer organization has
no income outside private donations.
liz at

Haifa SPCA is taking in large numbers of animal war refugees and like with
the above organization their expenses are growing while their income has
almost stopped. Contact info at
hspca at … ;orgid=149

Israel Cat Lovers Society is located in the Haifa area. They have been
affected by the war situation here as many pet owners or homeless cats
feeders fled towards the center of Israel leavingthe animals in horrible
conditions. As so we are in great need of fosterhomes for kittens and
massive food donations as well.

Yes, I am partial to kitties that look like Luna…

One of the things that struck me, in addition to the photographs of the animals and the people with them, was the reference to “civil society” among the resources. I fear the civil society on both sides of the border is one the things in danger in this conflict, and indeed in other conflicts as well. The Civil Society of Haifa describes their mission as “to ensure and further participation, solidarity, tolerance, social mobility, basic human rights and honesty [as] a goal that can contribute to the general welfare of all members of society,” including in this case our small and furry members of society. Sadly, such goals seem quite lost in the tribalism, fear and focus on base needs and emotions that seems to dominate much of the fighting in the Middle East and elsewhere…

Cat Welfare Society of Israel

As a follow-up to my earlier post about cats in Lebanon, I present the Cat Welfare Society of Israel. They provide the usual cat-welfare services, including spay/neutering for strays, adoption, advocacy programs and a sanctuary for cats.

I did not see any news or information about the current conflict, although they do have some about the withdrawal from Gaza last year. There is a bittersweet story as well as a video about cats left behind in the Gaza settlements.
Although video is in Hebrew, it still pulls at heartstrings.
While the story of cats left behind doesn't change my view that evacuating the settlements in Gaza was the right thing (one wonders why Israelis would live there in the first place), it does leave some questions. Were people ordered not to take their pets with them during the evacuations, or were these simply communal animals left behind? Did the violence and chaos caused by some of the more militant settlers and activists make an orderly rescue of the cats more difficult? Did any of the people who poured into Gaza to protest stop to help? Very naive questions, I admit. This article about CWSI and its founder Rivi Mayer discusses a prevailing view among many in Israel of cats as “pests not pets”, and though changing, this article from CSWI documents more recent animosity to cats. I can't say I've really done a lot of independent research on any of this. Nonetheless, for those who support Israel, whether for nationalist or reglious reasons, or something a little more enlightened, a little soul searching never hurts. Especially now, given the recent tragedies surrounding the current war.

I end this post on a more upbeat note, with a photo of this little resident from CSWI's sanctuary: