The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is mostly known as one of the few places on Earth where people are forbidden from dying, but few know that this place also has a ban on cats, with one exception, a purring feline that’s technically a fox.
Cats weren’t always banned on Svalbard. It was only during the 1990s that Norwegian authorities enforced the ban, after it was decided that they were susceptible to rabies and echinococcosis (a type of tape worm) infections from foxes and rats, which in turn posed a big risk to the human population. Interestingly, rats are not indigenous to the northern archipelago, only arriving here relatively recently on board cargo ships, but being the resourceful creatures they are, they quickly adapted to the harsh conditions. Photos taken prior to the ban on cats show that felines were once popular on Spitsbergen and the other islands that make up Svalbard, but since then, only one ginger cat has been photographed on the archipelago. Her name is Kesha and she has a rather interesting story.