The town of Kafr Nabl in Syria’s last rebel-held province has suffered through so much bombing by both Syrian and Russian forces that it has lost so much of its people. Many lost their lives in the war while others simply ran away.
It is now hard to imagine that the rubble that’s left of Kafr Nabl had once been home to over 40,000 people. The thriving town now has only about 100 people living in its nearly deserted, rubble-filled spaces.
In one of these bombed-down homes, 32-year-old Salah Jaar lives with his many cats. Although he lost his family, he finds comfort in his cats. According to Salah, many of the fleeing residents were not able to bring their pets along. This led to the town now having hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of stray cats!
But the cats provide comfort for Salah and the rest of the people living in Kafr Nabl. So, many take as many cats as they can.
“It’s comforting when the cats are close. It makes the bombardment, the demolition, the suffering, seem much less frightening,” Salah admitted.
“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.”
It’s a sad reality that the people and the cats are not only struggling with having to deal with the constant bombing but also with the lack of food. But the people still care for the cats, anyway.
Many of the cats also get injured, but because they have become family to the people, they even seek treatment for the animals.
“I have a friend who has cats in his house. One of them was hit by a rocket that almost blew his front paw off. But we managed to get it to Idlib city for treatment and it’s now walking around as well as before,” Salah said.
“We’ve shared the good times and the bad, the joy and the pain and the many, many fears. They have become our partners in life.”
Salah said that if worse comes to worst and they will flee from their hometown, he and the many residents left there will surely bring as many cats as they could…