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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 09:22 GMT
Cat banned for scaring residents
Superstition about black cats is said to be pervasive in Israel
A black cat has been barred from the stairwell of a housing block in Israel because he scares local residents.

Kooshi, a seven-year-old mixed breed with a jet-black coat and green eyes, looked ferocious, residents in Rishon Letzion complained to town officials.

The cat's owners were ordered to cradle the animal when using the staircase - or risk having it impounded.

But the cat's owners object to the pet being "singled out" because of its colour and say they may go to court.

A neighbour told Associated Press: "It brings you bad luck, you go in the street, you walk in the street and you see black cat, it [messes] up the whole day - this is very bad, very bad for Karma, for communication, very bad."

Riva Mayer of the Cat Welfare Society said fear of black cats was pervasive in Israel.


The restrictive order was issued by municipal veterinarian Jonathan Even-Zor, who said officials in Rishon Letzion - just outside Tel Aviv - could not ignore the complaints.

"This is a black cat that on its way downstairs occasionally passes through the legs of building residents, some of whom are afraid of the cat, quite possibly because of its black colour," Mr Even-Zor wrote in a letter to Kooshi's owners, AP reported.

"Even if this reaction is based on superstition, people who are afraid of the cat should not be forced to encounter it on the stairwell, particularly when the area is not illuminated," the letter said.

But the cat's owners, the Morgansterns, said they would fight the order and had already hired Asaf Marx, a lawyer with Israel's Cat Welfare Society.

"The city of Rishon Letzion doesn't have a leg to stand on," Mr Marx wrote in a letter to Mr Even-Zor.

"A veterinarian can issue an order like this only if an animal constitutes a threat to public health or to public order," the letter said.

"Kooshi is clean, he's been vaccinated and neutered, and is extremely well mannered. He's being singled out only because of his colour," it said.


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