**A Post by Shifra**

Looking at the pictures of the sand kittens born in Tel Aviv that Tammy had posted last week, I had to agree: Yes, they were quite adorable.

But then, I started thinking about Jerusalem.

What’s the connection? I will tell you.

You probably know that Jerusalem has some very holy sites. You may know that Jerusalem has many names, such as the City of Peace, The City of (King) David. But unless you have lived in Jerusalem, as I did, you would not know that Jerusalem is also…Cat City.

How this came to be is in some dispute. Some say it started in the 1890’s, under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Some say it began under the British Mandate of 1922-1948, in which the British ruled the area (called Palestine, until the founding of the State of Israel, in ’48.) But one thing is certain: Jerusalem had been overrun with mice, until someone had a great idea. Bring in some cats. And so, today, Jerusalem is totally overrun… with cats.

Jerusalem cats are brazen. They have a lot of chutzpah. They run in packs. They are everywhere. In alleyways. In gardens. They strut down sidewalks, as though they own the city. (Well, in a way, they do.)

At this point, I suppose I should tell you about an Unpleasant Experience I had, when I lived in Jerusalem. I’m not proud of this story. But when you feel like your life is in danger, as I did, well…

I was walking home one night, alone. No one was in sight. It was very dark. As I approached my apartment building, I felt as though someone was staring at me.

And then I saw it. Or rather, them. Twenty eyes, lit up in the dark, watching me. I moved closer, and I saw ten cats, perched on a stone fence, near the entrance to the building. They were quietly eyeing me. Too quiet, I thought.

I did not know what they had in mind, but it felt like they were up to no good. I imagined the headline: “American Mugged by Jerusalem Cats.” Could they steal my wallet? Or, even worse, did they think I looked like dinner ?

I hissed at them, hoping they would run away. I could see them flinch, ever so slightly, but they remained perched on the fence. As I said, these cats are brazen.

I suppose I could have called out for help. Surely people would run out of the building to assist me. But what would I say? “Help! Some cats are looking at me funny!” ?

I bent down, grabbed some pebbles and dirt, and flung it at the cats. (As I said, I am not proud of this. But I was feeling desperate. I was also seventeen years old. Maybe my judgment was not the best.) But again, the cats flinched a bit, but remained on the fence.

“Terrific,” I thought. I just gave them a reason to attack me. I made a quick run for the door. Safely inside, I turned around. They were still watching.

A follow-up, of sorts, to the story:

Several weeks ago, I was walking down a residential street in Brooklyn. A woman stood on her lawn, watching her two children playing with their cat. This cat was a real beauty. White and light brown. As I passed by, I called out, “Beautiful cat!”

“Thank you,” she said. Then she added, “She’s a Jerusalem cat.”

“Oh?” I said. I was taken aback. I wanted to know how she came to own such a cat.

Ten years ago, the woman was walking in Jerusalem, in the Arab Quarter, and she saw a baby kitten, maybe two, three days old, laying on the sidewalk. The woman bent down to get a better look, and the kitten jumped into her arms. “Ever since then, she’s been part of the family.”

It occurred to me that maybe the cat was a descendant of one of the cats I had mistreated, years ago. I went over and stroked the cat. The cat purred. I was making amends.

Until Tammy’s post, I had never heard of sand cats. I’m not a big fan of animals being “locked up” in zoos, but I am glad those cute kittehs are safely ensconced in the Tel Aviv zoo. I wouldn’t want those Jerusalem cats anywhere near those cute sand cats. I don’t trust them as far as I can…well… as far as I can throw some pebbles and dirt.

I don’t think Jerusalem cats can read a map, but who needs a map to get to Tel Aviv, anyway? Tel Aviv is only 45 minutes away, and everyone knows it’s just down the main highway.

There is so much going on in Israel right now. The two top basketball teams, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv, pretty much hate each other, and there is a lot of bad blood between their fans. Oh, and Syria, right to the north, is quickly falling to the Islamic crazies, who threaten to attack. And Egypt, to the south, may be amassing troops on the border. Oh yeah, and Iran is threatening to obliterate the entire country. So the last thing Israel needs is some Jerusalem cats messing with the Tel Aviv sand cats. I don’t think it would be very pretty.

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22 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. Maynard says:

    Shifra, I don’t suppose any of those cats that terrified you in the days of your youth looked anything like this?

  2. Shifra says:


  3. WalkStar says:

    This made my Sunday, Shifra! I think the Jerusalem cats were guarding you. I wonder what Snoopy Bruce thinks …

  4. LJZumpano says:

    and picking up where t s eliot left off, we have Shifra!

  5. LucyLadley says:

    Shifra! I LOVE your story!!!! I did not know about Jerusalem Cats, thanks so much for the education. You are such a gifted story teller. Maynard…. So glad you are a TAM, you brighten our days & give us food for thought.

  6. imacat says:

    It’s called catitude, Shifra, part of which is that fear evokes taunting. Sounds like those Jerusalem Cats are pros! >^.^<

  7. Alain41 says:

    Nice story Shifra and I love the pic of the cats on the motorbike. Head Out On the Highway… You’re right, don’t tell them about the Tel Aviv sand kittens.

  8. Shifra says:

    Tammy provided the pics. She provides all the pics to my posts. (I think she has a secret stash of amazing pictures.) Yes, the cats on the motorbike pic is so adorable. The three pics are authentic Jerusalem cats; behind the motorbike, you can see a Hebrew ad for a cafe, and the other two pictures have stone in the background (which is what almost every building in Israel is made from; stone is plentiful, while wood is harder to get)

  9. bullitt says:

    Hey shifra great post! I think cats are the coolist animals for sure they would be in Jeruaslem. who really knows how God uses them!!

  10. n9zf says:

    Presently we are petless, unless the chickens and ducks count. Ducks will cuddle when you can catch them, but their noses (beaks) don’t have that mammalian softness. We’ve had just three cats during our years together (my wife and I will celebrate 37 yrs this month) and three dogs. We have loved them all. Most favorite was a Siamese named Rachel. Loved to leap to the top of an open door and straddle it like lions from Born Free. Rachel was with us for 22 years. In her last years, she’d get under the covers of our bed and turn into a squeak toy: press the lump on the bedspread and she’d meow with each press.

    Animals provide great joy.

    Thanks for the article 🙂

  11. Patricia says:

    Love the post Shifra – thanks for sharing. Maynard – the picture is priceless.

  12. rosebud2186 says:

    Thanks for the informative entertainment Shifra!

  13. tabbywabby says:

    Loving the suicide bomber kitty…but we all know there’s not a cat in the world who would willingly do anything for a higher purpose. They are much too self-absorbed.

    On another note, there is a great non-profit right there in L.A. called Hope for Paws. The gentleman who runs it is from Israel and he returns there (I think yearly) to trap, spay/neuter and get medical treatment for sick and injured cats. He posts videos and photos of his rescues. They are quite amazing. I don’t know if we can post links, but if not, his website is the what you would think it is: Hope for Paws dot org. I know all the animal lovers in the TAM army will love this guy’s videos. They are so inspiring.

  14. WalkStar says:

    Sweet! I’m going to check it out!

  15. TigerAim says:

    Great post Shifra – and great pix Tammy; thanks so much for enlightening me – and all of us – on this. Btw, love Maynard’s pic, too! I really did LOL!

  16. Shifra says:

    Thanks, TigerAim, and all commenters 🙂

  17. Crazycatkid says:

    This is a belated comment. I read this story to Arthur, Curtis & Giovanni. I think they liked the story. But,
    later that evening I noticed that they were all kinda staring at me. I threw cats treats. Works better than pebbles.

  18. careless says:

    Great article, Shifra. Some Israelis believe that the feral cats protect Israel from her enemies. They claim it has some biblical reference.

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