My slight obsession with photographing Israeli cats really made my tour guide crazy on my last visit. She just didn’t get it.
“Pah! Are you crazy? What do you want to take pictures of that cat for? It’s eating trash! Look over here instead. Here’s a good photo!”
Her attempts at distracting me were sadly futile. She didn’t know that I’m unable to look away. I was enchanted, years ago.
Me and the cats go back. I first understood they were magical one night in 1990 something. I was taking out the trash behind the building where I was working in Jerusalem. A car drove by and the broad sprawling tree beside the dumpster lit up like a holiday scene out of Whoville, glimmering bright with one too many strings of electric lights. Dozens of luminescent dots flickered green, gold and blue from the branches. Then one of them jumped and it registered. Not lights. Eyes. Eyes and eyes and more glowing eyes were winking at me like something from a children’s cartoon. Watching me, and the trash. I half expected one of them to talk to me, Cheshire style.
Everywhere you go in Israel, there are cats.
In between the rocks along the beachfront promenade in Tel Aviv, there are cats. In every single quarter of Jerusalem’s old city, more cats.
There are kittens in Eilat and prowling tomcats in Tiberias. There are even mystical cats in Sefat, though I’d argue all the Israeli cats are a bit otherworldly. They are tougher than our American cats. Their eyes are more knowing, their gait more stealthy. They appear and disappear in a blink. It’s a mystery where they go.
“I’m sorry, I’m going to have to take a million photos of the cats.”
My tour guide nodded stoically, with an expression that conveyed she knew I was crazy. And that I wasn’t really sorry.
I was in heaven photographing these Israeli cats, each one more personality-filled than the next. Their faces tell me stories. I’m sure they are looking directly into our souls with their flashing x-ray eyes.
I could photograph Israeli cats all day long. Send me back for a few more days with a better lens, and I’ll shoot a calendar. In the meantime, here’s a little more than a week’s worth, captured mostly on my iPhone.
Monday’s cat is fair of face
Tuesday’s cat is full of grace.
Wednesday’s cat is full of woe
Thursday’s cat has far to go
Friday’s cat is loving and giving
Saturday’s cat works hard for a living
But the cat who is born on the Sabbath Day, is bonny and blithe and good and gay.