Tel Aviv's Stray Cats No Longer Have to Go Hungry

New SOS campaign aims to distribute organized feeding bowls to end starvation, maintain city hygiene.

The S.O.S. Pet Association announced Sunday the launch of a campaign for the distribution of 2,700 feeding bowls throughout Tel Aviv, which will be placed on streets, in front of residential buildings, restaurants and cafes in efforts to establish an organized feeding system for the city's stray cats.

The campaign will begin on Monday, during which 350 bowls will be distributed from Rothchild Boulevard to restaurants and cafes, as well as pedestrians interested in participating.

The association said that they were aware of the fact that feeding stray cats often becomes a conflict between neighbors, which is why they have decided to try and impose a more organized and aesthetically pleasing feeding system for cats which might otherwise have starved to death because the trash bins have shut lids.

"The idea behind the campaign is to maintain hygiene at residential compounds, so the whole issue will stop being a nuisance," said Ricki Batzri, CEO of S.O.S. Pet Association.

She added that initially, the association's volunteers might be responsible for filling the bowls with food and water, with the hope that the city's residents will continue the tradition themselves.

Another campaign goal is to spay the cats in order to control their reproduction and diminish their numbers, and getting the cats to congregate makes this task a lot easier.

Anticipating the possible criticism that could be directed at the campaign, such as the fact that the presence of so many feeding bowls in the streets will only increase the amount of stray animals, Batzri said that "the cats are already there, whether they are hungry or well fed - they are there."

"If they receive more food, they will look much better, they won't be so pathetic and we will also be able to start talking to neighbors about reducing their presence by having them spayed," she added.

The campaign was first launched in Herzliya, where the group distributed over 200 feeding bowls to cafes and restaurants that were interested in participating, as well as to people at residential buildings that fed street cats on a regular basis.

Ramat Gan resident Ofer Gur, who has been feeding stray cats for two years, said that feeding the cats helps diminish their numbers.

"Every time I bring them food around 10 to 15 cats that I recognize come running," he said.

"I can also recognize which of them are spayed and when I spot one that isn't I call S.O.S. to come and pick it up," he added.

He continued to explain that because he feeds them regularly and in an organized manner, his neighbors don't mind their presence.