Cat (illustration)
Cat (illustration) Flash 90

Israel's stray dogs and cats can stay, according to Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home).

"Kindly place the cats' visas back in your pockets, we are not flying them anywhere," Ariel joked Wednesday at a conference of kibbutz leaders in Maaleh Hahamisha, west of Jerusalem.

"I deal with the issue of not causing pain to animals no less, and possibly more, than previous ministers of agriculture," he said, citing the Jewish precept of avoiding "tza'ar ba'aley hayim," avoiding cruelty to animals.

"We have made an effort to avoid tza'ar ba'aley hayim as much as possible, and we are looking for other ways not to neuter and spay them, which constitutes tza'ar ba'aley hayim in and of itself," he added.

He added that he also opposes the current practice of clipping a part of a cat's ear to indicate to inspectors that it has been sterilized.

Ariel believes that neutering and spaying dogs and cats to prevent their reproducing contradicts Jewish law. He reportedly wanted to take the NIS 4.5 million budget that is currently allotted to spaying and neutering street animals, and use it "to transfer cats and/or dogs of one sex (all males or all females) to a foreign country that will agree to receive them"

Ariel reportedly sees the current policy of neutering and spaying as contradicting Halacha because it causes the animals unnecessary suffering and because God blessed all creatures with the blessing of procreation – "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth."