We learn how social event will help the city's cats
For the past 21 years, Dubai’s Feline Friends has been caring for and rehoming the UAE’s unwanted cats and kittens thanks to a network of generous volunteers and fosterers, who open up their homes to these abandoned and stray animals. It’s a difficult (and at times thankless) role, but in the six years that British expat Lesley Muncey has worked with the non-profit organisation, of which she is now chairperson, the group has been fortunate enough to find homes for hundreds of felines.
‘There are thousands of success stories, and they’re still happening all the time,’ she explains during our chat at her home. As well as caring for her own four cats, a tank full of fish and an African Grey parrot called Clippy, she also looks after 12 fostered felines. And though she notes that Feline Friends has a network of excellent fosterers, some of whom look after multiple animals at a time, raising awareness of what the organisation does is a huge part of staying functional.
It’s also a great way of getting more volunteer foster carers on the books – something that’s vital to Feline Friends’ success.
This is where the Kitten Ball, taking place this year on Friday November 2, comes in. This year’s event will be held at the Dusit Thani Dubai and will feature prizes, music, dancing and a three-course dinner, and guests are urged to dress to impress.
When manning the Feline Friends hotline, Lesley explains that the biggest challenge she faces is handling the volume of calls from people who have found abandoned cats, especially when it’s almost impossible to help them all. ‘It’s challenging, but obviously it’s a necessity, because there’s nowhere else for these people to go. We probably get about 10 to 20 calls a day, and that’s before we start counting emails.’ The group has welcomed the arrival of new organisations, such as The Bin Kitty Collective (search Bin Kitty Collective on Facebook), and Friends of Animals (www.friendsofanimalsdxb.com); Lesley notes that Feline Friends is keen to join forces with other organisations in order to have a greater impact.
Through its network of fosterers, Feline Friends houses more than 100 cats at any one time. ‘If we had a shelter, which we don’t – we’ve actually decided we don’t want one, because there would be so many cats dumped – we would only be able to house around 80 cats. We’ve done the research, and we would be limited to less than we can currently cope with,’ Lesley explains. ‘There’s also more risk of disease, more dumpings, and the fact the cats are kept in cages. At least this way they’re all in individual homes, which I think is kinder.’
On the subject of kindness, she urges members of the public to consider the consequences of their actions, however well intended, when approaching stray cats. ‘Consider what you’re doing before picking up a stray cat. If you can give it a permanent home, by all means rescue it. If you can’t, or haven’t thought about it, you should leave it, or do the right thing – if it’s injured, it needs to go to the vet,’ she explains. ‘Of course, if you need any advice, you can call us.’ An extra tip Lesley offers is to avoid the temptation to feed stray cats – a practice she explains was recently outlawed. ‘You’re not helping [by feeding strays], unless you get them sterilised – again, you can call us for advice on this. Otherwise, the more you feed, the more you breed, and people need to feel accountable for that.’
Feline Friends relies on fosterers to survive, but if you can’t foster a cat, or offer one a loving, permanent home, attending Feline Friends’ Kitten Ball 2012 is the next best thing. Not only is it a great excuse to get dressed up, but it’s all in the name of a great cause. Just think of the cute kittens… Tickets Dhs480 per person. 7pm-midnight, Friday November 2. Dusit Thani Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, firstname.lastname@example.org (055 298 9963).