William and Mary Law School

The Cat Problem

There are tons of stray cats on the streets of Morocco, and although most of them are healthy enough, some of them are in desperate need of care. I was in the Fes medina last weekend when I saw a cat sitting in the sun. His eyes were full of puss and his ribs were so visible that he looked more like a skeleton than a living creature. But nobody stopped to help him. I tried to give him some water with my bottle cap but his eyes were so infected that he couldn't see a thing. He was on the verge of death and I wanted to help him, but Moroccans have a different mindset with animals. Since my arrival over one month ago, I have seen one veterinarian office. It was in Casablanca, the rich part of town. I knew there was nowhere for me to take the cat, so I left the bottle cap filled with water next to him and said goodbye.

It was a grim scene, but unfortunately not surprising. When I was walking home from work a few weeks ago, I saw a man sleeping next to a pile of trash on the main road. He was incredibly thin and in desperate need of medical care. But nobody stopped to help him.

How can Moroccans protect animal rights if most of them barely show respect for human rights? When resources are scarce, people turn a blind eye. I understand why things work this way, but that doesn't mean I cannot see.

But just like any place, the bad is mixed in with the good. I see people toss change to beggars on the street and I see my host mom feed the stray cats in our neighborhood every night. I walked home with my host mom one day and three cats followed us to the front door, happy and healthy cats.

I learned from years of travel that no place is perfect, but if you look close enough, sometimes you find something close enough. When a stream of purring, happy cats follows me home because they smell my host mom's scent on me, those days are pretty close to perfect.

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