Operation Git-Meow Wants to Save the Feral Cats of Guantánamo

The controversial naval base has a stray cat problem.

Carol Rosenberg/Miami Herald via ZUMA Press

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Guantánamo Bay Naval Base is home to a military prison, and now, a growing stray cat population.

In March, a nonprofit billing itself as Operation Git-Meow issued a request to start an adopt-a-cat program to help connect feral cats with new homes. Last year, almost 200 feral cats at Guantánamo underwent euthanasia because the military base had no alternative method to address the cat population, according to the Miami Herald.

Under current policy, the base is bound to the practice of “trap, neuter, and release.” However, a percentage of Guantánamo’s stray cat population may be euthanized if deemed too ill, injured, or dangerous to the general public. The navy base commander Capt. Dave Culpepper rejected the formal proposal to create a rescue program for cats, citing regulations and a lack of authority over the matter. Instead, Culpepper’s team is “committed to maintaining an animal control program as guided by Navy and Department of Defense regulations and ensuring all species are legally and humanely managed,” the commander’s spokesperson, Julie Ann Ripley, told the Miami Herald.


Guantánamo, leased on 45 square miles of Cuban land, is home to a controversial U.S. military detention camp that has housed hundreds of prisoners as part of the War on Terror since 2002. The prison now holds 41 prisoners, and some 5,500 people live and work on the naval base.

Operation Git-Meow—a play on Guantánamo’s nickname, Gitmo—intends to appeal the decision to the Department of the Navy, putting forward a “no-cost solution” that would include volunteer veterinarians and other experts who can vaccinate and sterilize the cats. The group has even drafted an anti-animal cruelty rule to contend with the growing ill treatment of animals at the base. The proposal, if implemented, would be free for taxpayers.

“Based upon the unique situation at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an aggressive trap, neuter, vaccinate, and release program funded by our organization would be a far more effective approach than simply trapping and killing the cats,” Meredith Ayan from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International told the Miami Herald.



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend