Thu, Aug 10, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Jerusalem’s feline savior

After feeding and caring for stray cats in both the Jewish and Muslim quarters for more than two decades, Tova Saul is know locally as the ‘cat lady’ – just don’t call her that to her face

AFP, Jerusalem

“There have been a few times where they (Palestinians) have said: ‘What are you doing?’ And I explain to them and they look at me and they have these big brown eyes, these beautiful eyes, and they say: ‘Wow, thank you. You have a good heart.’”

She usually likes to work between 1am and 5am when the streets are deserted, but this night starts a little earlier.

She spies a cat outside the gate she hasn’t seen before and traps it — it will be taken to the city vet in the morning.

Then she enters the Old City and sets up her baited traps. A cat is about to enter when a group of Palestinian youths arrive, startling it. After some terse words they move on.

Within minutes, three ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stop and stand by the trap.

Saul says very religious people of all faiths often have little experience of animals.

She asks them, politely at first, to move on but they refuse. Within a few minutes the scene escalates.

“The Nazis behaved exactly like that,” one man says. “Hitler kissed his dog at the same time as sending people to the crematorium.”

Saul is incandescent. “A Jew calling another Jew a Nazi?” she shouts.

She throws hummus at the man, splattering his back. Police arrive and all four are taken to the station.

After half-hearted apologies, they are released without charges, but by now it is nearly 2:30am.

Saul heads back to the car to grab her traps. For Jerusalem’s cat lady, the night is just getting started.

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