Feline frenzy

As more expats leave Dubai, pets are suffering. Here's how to adopt one of the many cats left behind…

The Knowledge

There will be around 35 cats in need of a new home at this month’s Adopt A Cat Day event, due to be held on February 6 by homegrown volunteer group Feline Friends.

While there have been even more moggies gathered together on previous adoption days – before Christmas, Feline Friends had a congregation of 47 abandoned and stray cats – 35 is no small figure. Do the maths and it amounts to well over 400 cats a year that are desperate for new homes.

Lesley Muncey, co-chair of Feline Friends, says the economic crisis has had a big impact on the number of abandoned cats in Dubai. She says people who have been made redundant are leaving the UAE and their pets behind them, meaning scores of cats must fend for themselves on the streets. ‘I’m working 12-hour days for Feline Friends right now, and I’m fostering a lot of the cats myself,’ Muncey tells Time Out. ‘I’ve had as many as 14 cats at home with me.’ This is where Adopt A Cat Day comes in, giving would-be adopters the chance to help alleviate the current cat crisis.

As a volunteer group with no official funding and no animal shelter, re-homing cats is a matter of urgency for Feline Friends, whose members foster the animals themselves until a permanent owner is found. But they are not cavalier when it comes to choosing new owners – at Adopt A Cat Day, homing co-ordinators are on-hand to make sure the right cat or kitten is matched with the right owner. ‘Each new owner will meet with a volunteer to go through what it means to look after a cat,’ explains Muncey. ‘We also give out starter packs with things like litter and a Care For Your Cat leaflet. But they must take their cat home in a cat carrier – people can either bring their own or buy one from us on the day.’

Aleem Chatur, a sales manager from London who lives at Dubai Marina, adopted Kit Kat from Feline Friends two weeks ago. ‘It’s a very big responsibility. Cats need a lot of love,’ he says. ‘I did a lot of research before I committed, like finding out about vaccinations, and I spoke to Feline Friends. She requires a lot of attention, but I don’t mind because I understand. She was a street cat, so she needs to feel comfortable that I’m not going to suddenly disappear or kick her out.’

Having read up on cat care before taking on Kit Kat, Chatur is something of a model new owner. As Muncey says, ‘I can guarantee that we’ll get some cats back, because people don’t realise how much work it is.’ But she adds that the rewards are plentiful: ‘Rescued cats know that they have been rescued and are very loving.’

Chatur agrees: ‘Cats are inexpensive and they’re independent animals, so I’m finding it relatively easy. I love Kit Kat to bits. It has changed my social life, though – I’ve turned down some good parties just to go home and feed her!’

Adopt A Cat Day is on Friday February 6 at Al Safa Vets on Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, next to Choithrams and French Nursery, from 2pm until 4.30pm. All cats and kittens are health checked; kittens have received their first vaccination, adult cats have had full vaccinations and are sterilised. If you can’t make the day but would like to adopt, call the enquiry line on 050 451 0058

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