Stray cats strut in Israel

By Caleb Spencer / Staff Writer

Picture this – you’re sitting on your porch one afternoon, and when you look down your street, you see a cat.

It’s nice to see a cat, so you feel like your day has gotten much better. Then, you see another cat. And another. And another. You end up seeing five different cats on your street, with dozens hidden away from sight that you don’t even know about. You feel confused. Why are there so many cats here?

This oddly specific situation is a reality for the citizens of Israel, and Thomas Birdeno wanted to find out why.

Birdeno, the Scriptwriting Instructor at HutchCC, initially heard about the stray cats in Israel from a friend in college, and this sparked his interest in the subject. 

After graduating from the University of Kansas, Birdeno started working on short films, usually comedic in nature and rarely serious. 

His friend-turned-business partner, HutchCC Media Production Analyst/Trainer Bobby Obermite, invited Birdeno onto the set of a documentary he was filming, and Birdeno accepted the invitation out of curiosity. He found the production to be fascinating and thought more about making a documentary.

“It never crossed my mind that I would shoot a documentary,” said Birdeno about his sudden interest in filming documentaries. “I want to do more than fiction, more than comedy.”

When trying to think of an idea for a documentary, Birdeno remembered what his college friend had said about the stray cats in Israel and thought to himself, “I’m going to go investigate what’s with all the cats.”

When making the documentary, Birdeno said he didn’t want to make the film political, because he felt like there were plenty of other news stories that focused on Israel and its conflicts. 

He thought a more lighthearted story would make people feel good, and learn about the bizarre situation that Israel is in due to the stray cats.

“(There) definitely will be more documentaries,” Birdeno said about future projects.

He also said that the tentative release window is around the end of winter or the beginning of spring.

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