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Diplomatic wrangling over US embassy's cat problem in Kabul

The US embassy in Afghanistan is home to up to 30 feral cats – and diplomats are at odds over how to deal with them.

Feral cats like these have been causing a diplomatic headache for the US's new ambassador in Afghanistan.
Feral cats like these have been causing a diplomatic headache for the US's new ambassador in Afghanistan.
Image: Salim Virji via Flickr

THE UNITED STATES’ new ambassador to Afghanistan is meeting with some unusual diplomatic problems in his first days on the job – over the unlikeliest of issues.

The Washington Post reports that a self-formed ‘cat committee’ is opposing plans to exterminate between 25 and 30 rabid, feral cats which have made the embassy in Kabul their home – causing some internal conflict among Ryan Crocker’s already tightly-wound staff.

Staff in the embassy already work under tense conditions – walled off from the rest of the city, under constant heavy security. As Joshua Partlow writes, even the name of the embassy’s bar points to the fraught atmosphere: it is called the Duck and Cover.

As a result, some see the cats as a nice, homely touch – including the so-called “cat committee”, which one diplomat noted was “full of cat ladies” – but others want rid of the felines, which have a history of attacking staff who approach them too closely.

Proposals allowing the staff to ‘adopt’ some cats, or have them brought back to the US for repatriation, also hit a stone wall – when it emerged that while the cats were a health nuisance, they were also helping to keep out poisonous vermin.

Read the full report at the Washington Post >

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Gavan Reilly

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