Preview of Coming Attractions

Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit http://www.thecatbehaviorist.com/ . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Battle Beseiged Cats

Whenever I hear news of human wars around the world, I wonder about the plight of the local cats.

In Kosovo, a veterinarian with the US Army Veterinary Corp (who’s primary duty is attending to bomb sniffing and mine sweeping dogs) volunteers at a modest animal clinic that was founded by two British veterinarians. The British vets work in England, saving their money and time to come to Kosovo periodically to conduct spay/neuter clinics. None of the locals have any formal training, but the Army Corp vet is teaching one local man how to perform spay/neuter operations. Army corps vets are also known to help out soldiers who adopt local cats. It is illegal for soldiers to adopt ‘mascots’ (as the army refers to them), however the practice is not uncommon.

When Halliburton established the Green Zone in Baghdad, they exterminated all the cats in the area (apparently this is the regular protocol of oil companies and other big industry when establishing a base.)

There is very little public information about Iraqi cats. But in my search, I stumbled upon a cat-centric blog by a young Iraqi girl. Here is her story, gathered from my interviews with her:

In Baghdad, the sound of bombs and catfights mangle the night. One young Iraqi girl shuts them out, focusing entirely on the blind, mewling lives that have just emerged in her garage. To fight the winter chill, she has nestled a blanket around the queen and her kittens. Over layers of clothes, the girl wears a pink T-shirt featuring three fluffy kittens with angel’s wings.

Raghda Zaid loves cats.

Isolated in her home by the ever-present dangers of Baghdad, Raghda’s eight cats become her best friends. She has enjoyed cats ever since she was nine years old, but the war has brought them into the center of her life. The kittens chase her through the house as she pulls crumpled paper tied to string. She spends hours observing as they bound through the garden, exploring creatures real and imaginary. When she is scared or lonely, she pulls her favorite tabby, a swaggering tom named Tubby, close to her, comforted by his silky purrs.

Raghda Zaid may be the Anne Frank of the Iraq war. At thirteen years old, this dedicated cat lover reached out to the world through her blog, Baghdad Girl, which features cute cat pictures interspersed with striking updates about a schoolgirl’s experience of life in war-torn Baghdad.

Over the past two years, the world has responded. Raghda has been featured by the BBC, with mentions on National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian newspapers, as well as countless websites. Hundreds of blog fans have written to her from all over the world, mostly from the United States, the U.K., Canada, Germany, France and Morocco.

She has now left Iraq, leaving her cats behind with her grandmother and her best friend. But her blog persists at http://Baghdadgirl.blogspot.com.

If you have heard any stories or insights into the situation of cats in Iraq, please post them in the comments section of this blog.

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