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This Town Has More Cats Than People

Amid the unspeakable horrors and pain of war, there are people who have love in their hearts that knows no bounds. Under the most horrible circumstances, they still manage to lend a helping hand to those in need, no matter whether they are fellow humans or our furry four-legged friends. One of these kind-hearted people is 32-year-old Salah Jaar. While he barely manages to feed himself, he always finds a seat at the table for many cats that were abandoned in this town when its residents fled the war-torn area. He promises that if the time comes and he has to leave Kafr Nabl town, too – he’ll take as many cats with him as he can.

Today, the town of Kafr Nabl in Syria is torn by months of bombing by Syrian and Russian forces. It is located in the last rebel-held province and was once home to more than 40,000 people.

Now, fewer than 100 remain together with hundreds or even thousands of cats that have lost their owners. One of the remaining residents is 32-year-old Salah Jaar, among the company of many cats. “It’s comforting when the cats are close,” he told the BBC. “It makes the bombardment, the demolition, the suffering seem much less frightening.”

Although the original studio has been destroyed, Salah still works as a news reporter for the local radio station, as they moved their operations to a nearby town. Sadly, the radio station’s founder, Raed Fares, was killed by Islamist gunmen back in 2018. Raed was said to be a “remarkable activist” and he even allocated a special allowance for the town’s cats – to buy the hungry felines milk and cheese.

When asked about the population of cats in Kafr Nabl, Salah told the BBC journalist: “So many people have left Kafr Nabl that the population has become very small. The cats need somebody to care for them and give them food and water, so they’ve taken refuge in the homes of those who’ve stayed. Each house now has about 15 cats, sometimes even more. Sometimes when we’re walking in the street there are about 20 and maybe even 30 cats walking with us the whole way. Some of them even come home with us.”

Salah, as well as the other few Kafr Nabl residents, are never sure for how long they are going to be alive. Naturally, finding food is a struggle, but Salah always makes sure to make a place at the table for his feline friends, no matter how little he has to offer.

“Whenever I eat, they eat, whether it’s vegetables, noodles or just dried bread. In this situation I feel that we’re both weak creatures and need to help each other,” Salah told the British media outlet. In addition to this, Salah says that if hell breaks loose and he is forced to flee his town – he’ll take as many cats as he can with him.