When word got out that the U.S. Embassy in Kabul decided it had a "cat problem," the Washington D.C.-based group, Alley Cat Allies, pounced into action.
A colony of cats - that news reports indicates are at least somewhat domesticated -living on the embassy grounds has become the subject of community controversy.
Many Americans living there have embraced the cats, fed them, immunized them and given them names. In return the cats provide a reminder of home and a sense of normalcy in a war zone.
Trouble developed after a report of a cat bite or a scratch (details appear sketchy) that has embassy officials debating the animals' fate.
The Washington Post reports that the embassy is considering some type of removal of the cats - which of course would likely mean the end of the cats.
Alley Cat Allies to the rescue.
The only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, reached out to the leadership of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan with materials and guidance on putting in place humane programs for feral cats.
“We are heartened by the fact that the embassy leadership has seemingly halted earlier plans to remove and kill these cats,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies.
“Like many feral cat colonies, these cats provide comfort to those trusted humans who in turn provide the cats with food and water,” said Robinson. “This is certainly true for the men and women who staff this embassy, far from home, working in a highly stressful and combative atmosphere.
As part of its outreach to the embassy, Alley Cat Allies argued that there is no reason to remove the cats from the embassy’s grounds.
Instead it urged the embassy to use Trap-Neuter-Return, a humane program that ends the breeding cycle and stabilizes the population.
The group also provided links to scientific information showing feral cats are just as healthy as pet cats, with the same lifespan and low rates of disease as indoor cats. Alley Cat Allies also offered information on humane deterrents and other tips for managing the cats and keeping them out of specific areas of the embassy’s grounds.
“All it will take is a little education and a few simple guidelines to ensure that the humane option for the cats is also one that makes the staff feel comfortable,” said Robinson. “We look forward to hearing about further progress from the embassy.”
Meanwhile, word of an evacuation is under way of the feline "Afghan refugees." Apparently a shelter in Berkeley, Ca. is willing to take them, the Post reports.
(To which we say, surely even Berkeley has no shortage of needy cats. Why euthanize local cats to make room for the "refugees" when the Kabul cats could live comfortably where they are? Unless, of course, the embassy staff members are willing to adopt the cats back home when their tours of duty end.)