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Community Cats


Photo by Ella Avin

Community Cats in Israel

Cats are an essential and important part of the urban ecological ecosystem. Cats are territorial by nature and unfortunately are often considered a nuisance to humans. This was not always the case. In ancient Egypt, for example, they were considered a sacred animal.

According to a survey by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, one-third of the population occasionally or regularly feeds community cats.

What Are Community Cats?

"Community cats" is a relatively new term that comes from the United States. Community cats are unhoused cats that live in or near human communities, making them part of the local community. 


This term reflects the positive influence that cats have on human communities. Since cats are territorial by nature, they protect their living space from pests. Additionally, human interaction with cats has been proven to reduce stress and contribute to strengthening the immune system of those who take care of them.


Community cats include stray cats, which are socialized cats that once had a home with humans. They may have run away, gotten lost, or have been abandoned, which means they can usually be re-homed. Feral cats are also considered stray cats. Feral cats have had very limited contact with humans, making them mostly afraid of people and unlikely to be suited for indoor life. Very few feral cats will want to live with humans and can be adopted. Kittens of feral cats, however, can be socialized, if they are homed at a very young age. 


Some of the community cats are cared for by compassionate local residents who feed them either regularly or occasionally. Hopefully this new term will also change the negative response some people have towards their presence.

What is TNR?

TNR is an acronym for: Trap-Neuter-Return. In TNR programs, community cats are trapped for sterilization or neutering and then returned to their original environment.


This process has been proven to be the most humane and effective approach to managing and stabilizing the number of cats in communities. It prevents females from going through cycles of producing more unwanted kittens; and prevents males from roaming, yowling, spraying, and fighting. Additionally, spayed and neutered cats get vaccinated and overall live longer and healthier lives.


In many western countries, community cats are fed and cared for by local residents and the authorities and animal welfare organizations handle sterilization, castration, and medical treatments. Although TNR is practiced in Israel, the state allocates very limited budgets towards TNR. Unfortunately, it is not enough to prevent the suffering of many cats or reduce the birth of many unwanted kittens. The large number of unneutered and unspayed community cats is actually an acute problem, especially in smaller towns in the periphery. 

Community Cats Situation in Israel

In Israel, in most areas, the state of community cats is dire. Unfortunately, they suffer from a negative image due to outdated superstitions and ignorance. Often, they are seen as a nuisance, are illegally displaced without proper adaptation, suffer from neglect, or even worse, undergo severe abuse. Some get killed (for example, by poisoning) or die as a result of dehydration and starvation because of the difficulties placed on those who feed them. Others die from diseases, car accidents, or dog attacks.

People who feed and tend to community cats are also impacted by these challenges. They frequently suffer directly from harassment, threats, verbal and physical violence. They even face legal action, such as having removal orders or illegal fines issued against them. This happens because in some cases, even municipal inspectors and police officers do not know the law and the case law on the subject, adding to the heavy burden already placed on cat feeders.

NOAH is the only organization that protects community cats and the people who take care of them through legal action

NOAH seeks to dispel ignorance and intolerance by providing knowledge and guidance:


  • We organize  seminars and conferences for activists, veterinary departments, and municipal inspectors.

  • We provide guidance on filing complaints to law enforcement agencies and submit appeals on closed or mishandled cases.

  • We assist cat feeders by issuing warning letters to harassing neighbors, apartment management committees, and companies.

  • We issue restraining orders against harassers and abusers.

Legal protection project for community cats and the people who take care of them

Community cats and the people who care for them suffer too often from hatred and prejudice, as well as physical and mental violence. Unfortunately, enforcement of The Animal Welfare (Animal Protection) Law and other laws are insufficient.

NOAH works in both the public and legal spheres to protect community cats and bring abusers to justice.

The project combines handling cases on both the individual level and on the macro level -  with municipalities, governmental offices, companies, and even major corporations in the Israeli economy.

Legal warning letters to neighbors who harass cat feeders

Every year we handle hundreds of complaints about threats to harm cats, harassment of cat feeders, and illegal feeding bans by apartment management committees

Appeals of closed cases by the police and the Ministry of Agriculture

Too often, authorities rush to close cases without investigation. We appeal for this reason. In certain situations, appeals are granted and the police have reopened investigations of animal abusers

Cancellation of fines issued illegally by Haifa municipality inspectors

The municipality of Haifa harasses cat feeders by fining them illegally. After we applied public and media pressure and went to the court, the fines were cancelled.

The fight against the municipality of Haifa continues until justice prevails!

Cancellation of feeding bans of community cats in industrial companies 

Following our intervention, employees who fed cats on company property were no longer harassed. We even got companies to fund spaying and neutering of the cats on their property, as well as set up feeding stations.

Lawsuits and injunctions against cat abusers and illegal cat trappers

The courts issued permanent lifetime restraining orders against cat trappers and criminal neighbors who removed cats from their original habitat.


Video Documentation of Our Activities

Guy Gilboa, Merav's son, was kidnapped on Oct 7 2023 and is being held captive by Hamas. Despite Merav’s personal and national tragedy, she finds the mental strength and compassion in her heart to care for community cats. But Merav's concern for the community cats, who belong to no one, does not bode well with her neighbor. Following NOAH’s intervention, issuing a warning legal letter, the neighbor stopped harassing Merav and the cats.

The silence claim against Ella Avin, NOAH’s Chairperson was filed by Nitzan Dekel from the Agamim neighborhood in Netanya who used to harass cats and cat feeders by destroy their water bowls and spoiling their food. This was an attempt to abuse the legal system and prevent his actions from being publicized, which could have affected the ability to gather further evidence against him. NOAH petitioned for a restraining order against Dekel and a temporary restraining order was issued.

Guy Ben Simhon, the municipal veterinarian of the Jordan Valley Regional Council ordered the illegal capture and displacement of about 15 cats treated at Kibbutz Ginosar. The cats have not been found so far, and their lives are at risk. Following NOAH’s petition, the court issued a temporary restraining order and the legal proceedings against him are still ongoing.

Sveta, an animal rights activist and a cat feeder, decided to risk her life and stay in Kiryat Shmona, a city in the north of Israel which is under missile attacks from Hezbollah, to make sure that the community cats are fed. Sveta was attacked by a violent criminal only because she was feeding cats. She turned to the police for help but the policeman refused to protect her

The municipality of Haifa decided to kill two birds with one stone. It tried to check the box on their mismanagement of wild boars in the city, while also enriching its coffers at the expense of cat feeders by issuing illegal fines, with each fine reaching 730 shekels. The fight against the municipality of Haifa and its mayor, Ms. Einat Kalish, continues.

Municipality inspectors in the city of Haifa, at the direction of the Mayor, Ms. Einat Kalish, fined Katya twice. Katya is a woman with limited means, who cares for a disabled husband. NOAH represented Katya in court and the second fine was canceled. The fight is not over! We are now working to cancel the first fine, which was also given illegally.

We believe that knowledge is power. 

We’re happy to share with you the extensive knowledge and experience we have gained, legally and professionally. 

The following are the key rights of community cats and their caregivers:

  1. While it is legal to feed cats in public areas, it is crucial to maintain a clean environment both during and after cat feeding.

  2. It is recommended to feed cats with dry food and leave bowls with fresh water that is changed every day. If it is necessary to feed with wet food, make sure to keep the area clean afterwards.

  3. Feeding cats is considered reasonable use of common areas in buildings, provided that the feeding area is located at a distance from the entrances to the building. Do not feed the cats in the stairwell.

  4. Spaying and neutering save lives! It is extremely important to spay and neuter the cats that you feed. Please contact your municipality and submit a service request to sterilize the cats. If the municipality where you live does not perform sterilizations, we strongly recommend contacting a local animal welfare organization. Otherwise, please consider investing your money in trapping-sterilizing-returning the cats. Remember, when you neuter a cat you are reducing the suffering of unwanted kittens, providing the cats you care for with a better quality of life, and reducing the costs of having to feed even more cats in the future. 

  5. Trapping and disposing cats in areas outside their natural habitat is a criminal offense punishable by law, up to 4 years in prison. Moreover, only licensed veterinarians are authorized to trap and remove cats, and even then, only in exceptional cases and according to specific procedures that apply to them.

  6. Police officers and municipal inspectors do not have the authority to forbid you to feed cats or to order that the feeding station be moved. The only authority on cat care is the municipal veterinarian.

  7. If you or the cats you feed are exposed to harassment or violence, make sure that you document, photograph, and record the crime taking place to present it as evidence to the police and in legal proceedings.

  8. The key to successfully pursuing a worthy cause is teamwork! Make friends with other neighborhood cat feeders and collaborate to get your local government to fund and invest in feline care.

  9. Check out the website of your municipal veterinary department to be updated on which recommendations apply in your area of residence regarding cat feeding. Make sure to follow these guidelines and if something seems unreasonable, please contact us for advice.

Cat Staring Out of Window

All the pity for mankind(also animals)Pity him from heaven

The spiritual leader and the greatest of the righteous, Rabbi Eliyahu Lafian ZaTza"LF feeds a cat in the yard

האכלת חתולים ויהדות.jpeg

Useful Legal Notices and Documents (in Hebrew)

The Ministry of Environment

A concise explanation of the law, the prohibition of trapping and removal from their territory,  importance of spaying and neutering cats

General legal letter to neighbors in Hebrew

A letter to the residents of the building with an explanation of the law and criminal liability, about the rights of community cats and the cat caregivers

Leaflet for employees who feed cats

A concise explanation of the law, the prohibition of capture and exile, the importance of spaying and neutering

Housing Culture Association

Feeding cats in the common area of ​​the building, while maintaining cleanliness is allowed and is a reasonable use of the area

Официальное уведомление жильцов дома - Russian

Причинение любого вреда кошкам незаконно, кормление кошек в Израиле разрешено

Leaflet - Trap, spay/neuter and return cats

An information leaflet for those who feed and care for community cats, what to pay attention to, be careful about, insist on and what to document

General legal letter for dog owners

A letter regarding the duties and responsibilities applicable to dog owners in connection with harming cats in the community

Legal letter to a business owner

A concise explanation of the law, the prohibition of capture and exile, the importance of spaying and neutering

Education for compassion

A database of teaching materials on the rights, protection and welfare of animals on the website of the Ministry of Education

Kitty Love
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