THE PAVILIONS PHUKET EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

The ‘Cat Man’ of Aleppo

SYRIA: At an unlikely cat shelter in rebel-held northern Syria, Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel gently holds a feline patient on her back as an ultrasound probe is rolled across her pregnant belly.

animalsculture
By AFP

Sunday 17 June 2018, 01:15PM


Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel carries a cat on his shoulder at Ernesto’s Cat Sanctuary that he runs in Kfar Naha, an opposition-held town in Aleppo province. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour / AFP

Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel carries a cat on his shoulder at Ernesto’s Cat Sanctuary that he runs in Kfar Naha, an opposition-held town in Aleppo province. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour / AFP

In a time of war, she is one of hundreds to have received medical attention at the makeshift animal clinic in Kafr Naha, an opposition-held town in Aleppo province.

“If you want to show mercy to people, start by showing mercy to everything else,” says Jaleel, who runs Ernesto’s Cat Sanctuary – named after his favourite furry friend.

The 43-year-old, who grew up in Syria’s second city Aleppo, has been mad about cats since he was a boy.

As a young adult in the city, he would drop by the butchers on his way home from work as an electrician to ask for scraps to feed street cats in his neighbourhood.

When war broke out in 2011, he put down his tools to become an ambulance driver to help ferry the wounded – but never stopped bringing food to his feline friends.

As the war raged on and cat lovers fled the city, Jaleel was left with 170 cats to feed and a new nickname: the Cat Man of Aleppo.

With the help of donations from friends and social media fans, he set up his first cat sanctuary in the city.

But in late 2016, the regime ramped up its deadly bombardment of Aleppo’s opposition-held neighbourhoods as it sought to regain control of the whole city.

“We started fleeing from neighbourhood to neighbourhood until, in the end, we escaped the city altogether,” Jaleel recalls.

Determined not to leave them behind, he and fellow feline fans managed to save 22 of the city’s cats.

“We gave each family two cats in a plastic vegetable basket,” Jaleel says.

Among them was Sukhoi, named after the stealth fighter jets of regime ally Russia.

“He would zip in and grab food from right under the noses of the other cats, just like a Sukhoi jet,” he said.

Syria’s war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced more than half its pre-war human population, as well as many of its domestic animals.

After fleeing Aleppo, Jaleel set up his second shelter – named after Ernesto – in early 2017 and housed 18 of the 22 smuggled cats in the animal oasis.

“The cats don’t just stay in just one house. They swap with each other and sleep in all of them,” Jaleel says, referring to rows of marble cubes with cat-sized entrances, engraved with names like Pouncer and Rose.

Nearby, a grinder churns out streams of bright pink mincemeat that is then scooped out onto plates spread out on the ground for lunchtime.

Central Phuket

Eyes closed, a cat with a stripy, light ash coat dips its snow-white nose in, nibbling away.

But the shelter, financed by online crowdfunding campaigns, does more than provide twice-daily meals: it also serves as an animal clinic with its in-house vet.

“We treat all sorts of animals here for free: horses, cows and even chickens,” Jaleel says.

During an inventory in January, he and his colleagues discovered they had handed out 7,000 medical prescriptions for free in less than a year.

Mohammad Watar was blown away when he brought in his cat for treatment after food poisoning.

“There are no vets where I live. I asked people and they pointed me to the sanctuary,” he says.

“I was so surprised to find this kind of thing existed during this war we’re all living,” says Watar.

“I saw them treating all sorts of animals. It’s really beautiful.”

Still, war is never far away: the sanctuary’s main building bears the marks of gun fire.

Last month, it cancelled a children’s party after a young boy was shot near the shelter, according to its English-language Facebook page.

Footage posted online depicted a man in a cat sanctuary T-shirt carrying a child with blood streaming down his calf.

Even the shelter’s cats are treated for war wounds, says the centre’s vet, Mohammed Yusuf.

“Just like many people are wounded by all the different weapons in the area, animals too suffer the same injuries,” he says.

Some stay under observation at his clinic for weeks, but not all get the treatment they need.

“We’re living in a war and facing severe shortages of veterinary medicines for wounds as well as vaccines,” Yusuf says.

In a time of death and destruction, the pride of the sanctuary is its ability to carry out sonograms of animal mothers-to-be.

“We examine them and diagnose how many foetuses there are and when they are due, and we prepare to welcome the new births,” Yusuf says.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

MartinK | 23 June 2018 - 05:14:11

and your point is?

Christy Sweet | 22 June 2018 - 13:20:55

Men who help cats- heroes. Women who help cats- crazy.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Weapons, ammunition found in vehicle of man shot dead by Phuket police

Well done police...one more lawless social menace off the streets for good....(Read More)


Phuket man, 29, shot dead while fleeing police

Got to agree with Kurt, how was he fleeing if he was sat in his car and a police officer could shoot...(Read More)


Phuket-bound mules busted with 780kg of kratom

Daring/bluffing ones sometimes own 'half the world'. But not always. We read about arrests ...(Read More)


Phuket mops up after storm lashes island, plunges businesses into darkness

Winds about 46 km/h are not seen as 'heavy storm' meteo-wise. Wind Speed 39-49 km/h is just ...(Read More)


Phuket man, 29, shot dead while fleeing police

Shot dead sitting in car while fleeing police? Excuse me, do I miss something? He was not a immedi...(Read More)


Tour bus brakes fail on Patong Hill

See if Bill Murray will come to the Patong hill to do a remake of 'Groundhog Day'....(Read More)


Phuket-bound mules busted with 780kg of kratom

That is a ridiculous load to try to sneak past the checkpoint. However, I do remember stories about ...(Read More)


Phuket mops up after storm lashes island, plunges businesses into darkness

Wow. Poor design, construction? No inspections by engineers? First storm after grand opening. Winds ...(Read More)


223 monkeys caught in Phuket mass-sterilisation Round 2, 162 sterilised so far

I understand that it are private institutions like Soi Dog Foundation ( running on donations) doing ...(Read More)


Royal Turf Club runs its last race

Can't imagine world wide a Turf club without gambling. After all, gambling brings in the money ...(Read More)


 

Melbourne Cup 2018