Tuesday, August 9, 2011

U.S. Embassy in Kabul Has Gone to the Cats

It's not unusual for me to feature international feline news from Europe or Japan...but Afghanistan? Not so much. Yet, thanks to my friend Khizra, I bring to your attention this fascinating story about a cat war that's been brewing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

According to The Washington Post, the controversy erupted sometime earlier this year when, "at least one, if not two" staffers were bitten and/or scratched by one of the 20-30 "somewhat-feral" cats that call the embassy grounds home.

This unfortunate turn of events led to plans for the cats removal, that is until the emergence of the kitty committee, a delegation of cat lovers who argued their benefit in helping instill a sense of "normality" to their lives in the war torn capital (plus they're pretty good at catching mice, too).

A town hall was organized to discuss the issue, where the committee was given 60 days to remove the cats as they saw fit, before more extreme measures were taken. However, some of the more clever protestors were not content to sit back and watch their furry cohorts meet an untimely demise, and mysterious signs started appearing in support of their kitty brethren.

The Post reports:

"Taking a page from the Taliban’s book, someone taped a night letter on the wall of the Duck and Cover. “Warning,” it read, above an image of two insurgent cats toting AK-47s, “we will break out our fellow comrades from your compound.”

Another flier that popped up in USAID offices pictured a cat in a Guevaraesque beret: "Viva la revolucion," signed El Gato.

A more sensitive soul composed an ode under the nom de plume Bacon and the Katz. It began: "Why oh why must we die?"

“Most of you will return to the US where the living is easy and good / We apologize if our actions (purring and eating) have been misunderstood. / Please do not despise us nor wish for our demise / We cannot help it that we have cat’s eyes.”

While the issue has yet to be resolved, a "name-and-picture book cat census" is currently being assembled to help track the remaining kitties, while one committee member has even gone so far as to locate shelters in the U.S. willing to harbor what some are calling the "Afghan refugee cats."

Only time will tell what's in store for the Kabul kitties, but it's heartening to see that in the midst of such unrest, there are still some kind souls out there working diligently to do right by these cats, who otherwise would not be given a chance.

Read more: Cat fight at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul - The Washington Post

(Thanks for the tip, Khizra!)



terry stanton said...

PRESERVE THE EMBASSY CATS: take care of them. I spent 26 months in the Kabul region at various ISAF bases and a US post during two US Army deployments from 2007 to 2010. Frequently occurring lonliness and isolation are significant emotions that can compromise one's concentration, performance, mission, and even safety. My caring for multiple cats and kittens during my time there, even tho' forbidden by General Order 1B, really preserved my emotional health and well-being during difficult times and aided me in my official duties, and even facilitated my interactions with Allies and Afghan security forces and citizens. In addition, the cats are useful for pest control and keeping away outsider cats. Other bases have officially designated them "working animals" and have a small budget for vaccination, neutering, vet care, and their personnel donate money and food. Just vaccinate, and neuter, consider official "working animal" application and ask for donations of food, or take the left-overs after the chow hall closes, as I did. Keep feeding areas neat, and provide boxes for the winter. There is a necessary public safety usefulness, theraputic, and emotionally supportive benefit for staff, military, and employees.
R Terrance Stanton, DPM LTC (ret), Liverpool PA 17045

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