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Feline Insurgents at Embassy in Kabul

Dealing with stray cats is like diplomacy with the Taliban

One of the cats at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Photo by Daniel Wilkinson.

It’s a stealth strategy. They’ve been creeping into the U.S. Embassy, one by one, and have now established a beachhead – two dozen or so cats who have penetrated the defenses of the world’s most heavily defended diplomatic fortress.

They go by names like Gordo, Freckles, Dusty and Ferdinand, and they’ve already driven a wedge between two factions at the embassy: pro-cat and anti-cat.

On the side of the cats is the Cat Committee. On the other various security officials who say they’re not anti-cat, but rather pro-public health – concerned that the cats, who have already caused a few bites and scratches, could be carrying rabies.

The Cat Committee is supported by many of the staff who say that Gordo, Freckles and their pals are the only signs of life they ever encounter.

“We basically can’t go out at all. We can’t walk across the street; we have to take a tunnel. There are no kids, no families, and basically what we have is the cats,” said one member of the committee. “It’s as close as we come to normality.” The committee is concerned that being “pro-public health” is a euphemism for extermination.

A staff meeting led to the plan that anyone who wanted to save the cats would have 60 days to adopt one or more and ship them out stateside. Any cats still on the property would then be killed. The 60 days came and went at the end of July, and the kitties are still there. Their biggest propaganda weapons is an article in the Washington Post, just the fact of which ensures that any killing will not be go unseen and unreported.

Someone even taped a letter on the wall of the embassy bar (called The Duck and Cover). Over a photo of two insurgent cats toting AK-47s, it says, “Warning: We will break out our fellow comrades from your compound.”

Another message that’s been circulating is in the form of a poem that says:

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.

What do you say: What would you do with feral cats at the embassy in Kabul? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.

What you can do: Tigger House is a focus of cat and dog rescue in Kabul. Their shelter includes a medical clinic and adoption program, working closely with American and European troops to help ship animals out to good new home abroad. Your donations are enormously helpful.