Animals

Jerusalem is launching a program to feed the city's stray cats

The city will supply 2,500 bags of cat food per year and reimburse people who currently feed the cats at their own cost.

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One of the lesser known aspects of the Holy City are the thousands of street cats that roam its allyways and parks. Whereever you go, you will see them sunning themselves in parks and gardens and living off of food they find on the street or the kind donations of good hearted Jerusalem residents.

The city recently changed its garbage disposal system from above ground dumpsters to containers that are buried in the ground and this led to a huge amount of complaints from area residents who were concerned that the stray cats could no longer get into the garbage to find food, according to The Jerusalem Post.

This concerned Jerusalem's new mayor Moshe Lion too. “When I understood the magnitude of the problem and the great distress caused, I decided to take up the task immediately,” he said in a statement.

As a result, the Jerusalem Municipality announced in January 2019 that it will begin placing designated cat feeding stations and set aside a special budget to "provide backup for those who do sacred work with the animals of the city,” said Lion.

The budget comes to around $27,000 a year, and while that might not sound like much, it's enough for 210 bags of cat food a week or 2,500 bags per year. The city is also planning on reimbursing people who currently feed the cats at their own cost.

While many people welcome the news that the cats will be fed, others believe it will only make the situation worse.

“When you provide a constant and continuous food source, you prevent the system from regulating the size of the population,” Amir Balaban, director for urban nature at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel told The Times of Israel. “Feeding is not the solution."

The city outlawed culling the cat population in 2004 and since then the trap-neuter-return (TNR) approach has been used to control the population. The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development invest millions of dollars in TNR each year and a myriad of cat lovers and organizations also do TNR around the country. Organizations that work with strays include the Jerusalem Society for the Welfare of Street Cats and the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The city responded to the naysayers with a statement that said: “The feeding stations will be set up in coordination with professionals, with public participation and cleanliness, and prevention of the creation of nuisances. At the same time, the veterinary service continues to sterilize street cats and make efforts to find additional money within the budget to increase that program.”

Providing feeding stations along with an increase in TNR will greatly improve the quality of life for the furry felines that live on Jerusalem's streets.

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