“The cats started flocking to me after people left,” Mohammad Alaa Jaleel, a resident of Aleppo, Syria, told BBC News.
Since 2012, Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, has been a near-constant conflict as opposing groups try to take control of the city.
People evacuated Aleppo in droves to save their lives, with an estimated 40,000 fleeing the city.
In addition to the strays he’d taken in, Alaa began out with approximately twenty cats who were left behind when humans fled for their life. A year later, there were over a hundred, and Alaa established Il Gattaro d’Aleppo as a refuge.
“Some folks just left them with me since they knew how much I adore cats,” he explained.
Alaa is now known as “Aleppo’s cat guy.”
One small girl, who was in tears when she handed him her kitten moments before her family departed, requested him to photograph her kitty and mail it to her, which he did.
Alaa promised the girl that he would look after her cat till she returned.
“These cats have become my pals here because everyone fled the nation, including my own friends,” he explained. “Whatever happens, I’ll stay with them.”