It started out with a few strays here and there, homeless cats that would’ve otherwise had to scramble for shelter and food in and around this war-torn part of Syria.
But that number grew as more and more residents fled Aleppo, until Mohammad Alaa Jaleel found himself with more furry charges than he could care for at home. So in 2015, he founded Il Gattaro d’Aleppo, a sanctuary that now houses approximately 80 cats who are flourishing under his selfless care.
When people left, the cats started coming to me. They were stray cats and cats left by their owners. Some people just left them with me knowing that I love cats.
Friendships have no doubt grown and flourished here, but one friendship in particular has captured the hearts of animal lovers everywhere in recent weeks.
At some point this spring, Mohammad found a pregnant stray dog and took her under his wing, going so far as to give up his own room so she could spend the final days of her pregnancy in peace and comfort.
She went into labor shortly afterward, but tragically, all three of her puppies were stillborn. Alessandra Abidin, one of the sanctuary’s volunteers, could tell how hard she was taking it, so she gave her a couple teddy bears to snuggle with as she came to terms with the loss.
And that’s where Junior comes into the picture.
He was brought to the sanctuary around the same time as Amira, and an unlikely friendship soon developed between this orphaned kitten and grieving dog whose maternal instincts were still as strong as ever.
Junior initially appeared to be drawn to the teddy bears, but it didn’t take long for Amira to become the focus of his attention. The two soon become inseparable, whether they were sharing a meal…
Or just kicking back and taking in the scenery:
She even lets Junior use her to work on his rock scrambling and balance skills!
“We called her Amira, (which means) princess, because for us, she is a princess for her noble soul,” Alessandra explained.
Mohammed, the so-called Cat Man of Aleppo, and these two furry friends serve as an important symbol, that even in the darkest of times, kindness and empathy shine on. Share to brighten even more hearts.