“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” ― Jean Cocteau

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Cat man of Aleppo

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The nicknamed 'Cat man of Aleppo' stays in Syria to look after any pets that are left behind, after millions of Syrian people are forced to flee their homes.

Mohammed Alaa Aljaleel has been named the cat man of Aleppo after he has taken in over a hundred stray or abandoned cats in Syria, many of which were left behind after their owners were forced to flee during the country's devastating civil war. Many of us know of the horrible situations Syrian people are in, but what happens to their beloved pets?

[caption id="attachment_1370" align="alignnone" width="960"]Photo: Facebook / Mohammed Alaa Alajeel Photo: Facebook / Mohammed Alaa Alajeel[/caption]

Mohammed claimed that some of  the people left them with him, trusting that he would look after them as they knew he loved cats. Mohammed was an electrician before the war began, now he rescues animals and even people when he drives around in ambulances rescuing anybody who needs help. Mohammed is a prime example of a selfless everyday hero.

As a lifelong cat lover, Mohammed felt compelled to feed a few strays which he saw helplessly wandering around some wreckage caused by an airstrike, he states that five cats turned to ten and then twenty and that is how it all began.

The cat man of Aleppo now runs a cat sanctuary. The sanctuary took in just twenty cats in 2011 which rapidly rose to over a hundred just a year later which perhaps emulates the fast and tragic impact war had on Syria recently. Mohammed stated that all cats are protected in the sanctuary, and despite most of his friends escaping from the dangerous surroundings he has promised that he would never leave the cats behind, no matter what. Children from all over the city also come to visit the cats, which brings them a lot of joy.

Mohammed spoke to the BBC's Panorama in their programme called "Life Under Siege", which documents the devastating effects that the war has had on Syria, however, the documentary is special as it follows ordinary people who are struggling but, despite everything, still show a surprising degree of humanity and hope for the country.  Mohammed shows an admirable degree of love and care for the animals which need it the most, even under the terrifying circumstances.

Everyday Mohammed will drive to his local butchers and purchase some scraps, on a good day he'll even get some bone thrown in for free. Everybody knows that Mohammed is the unofficial feline carer. He did have the chance to flee to Turkey with his wife and three children but they all made the decision together to stay behind and help those who are less fortunate - including the animals.

Some of the Syrian refugees have walked for over three hundred miles with the cats and dogs, some even taking them aboard rafts bound for Greece which shows how some people just cannot bring themselves to leave their pets behind, adding a sense of humanity and relatability to all of those animal lovers.It is very easy to detach ourselves from refugees lives but stories like these remind everybody that we are more alike than we are different. The animals which are left behind often face a painful and fatal end which is why people like Mohammed are needed in such a horrible time - remember the war affects cats, too.


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