August 8 is International Cat Day. The special day was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The group's initiatives include: providing care and support to animals around the world; educating people about looking out for animals; and teaching animal welfare to communities.
In honour of our furry feline friends, we talk to some UAE residents who have done their own share of rescuing and learn about how those cats have changed their lives.
Rose Ann Lopez, receptionist, Abu Dhabi
"I was on my bicycle feeding the cats on the Corniche when I saw a white object a little way off. First I thought it was just a plastic bag. However, when I reached it, I saw a beautiful, white, fluffy cat. I stayed beside him for 30 minutes thinking maybe someone just left him there and will come back, even though I knew that he had just been dumped.
I stayed with him, but I really didn’t know what to do that night. Should I take him with me? Where can I put him? I was just riding my bicycle, but I couldn't just leave him there because it's very hot for fluffies to stay outside.
So I asked my friend Sumaira if I can bring the cat to her apartment. As we were heading over, I fell down twice on my bike. I thought he was going to run away, I told him out loud: 'Please don't run. I will just fix my bicycle.” And, believe it or not, he just sat in front of me while I fixed it.
He seemed to perk up when we were crossing the main road, and when we reached Sumaira's apartment, I released him in the kitchen and put some food out for him. He ate. A lot. We then took him to the Canadian Vet for a medical check-up and to get him neutered. We named him Cotton for his colour, and he eventually got adopted by a couple who spoil him now. I was so happy, but a little sad, too. I know he will be safe and comfortable with his new family, though."
Nataliya Kartavenko, volunteer, Dubai
"Kalinka was probably hit by a car, and rescued from the side of the road at the end of November 2015. We originally thought she was dead as she wasn’t moving at all. She was not more than 8 months old when we found her.
She has multiple fractures in her back legs. She needed multiple operations and six months for a full recovery. After the operation she began running and jumping like any normal kitty her age.
She was advertised through the Bin Kitty Germany website and got adopted. I was happy for her even though I fell in love with such a sweet girl. For me, all my fosters are like my babies, so for sure it's hard to let her go. I hope she enjoys her new life in Europe."
Lesley Forshaw, executive assistant, Dubai
"Kikki was born around a year ago at a stable near Abu Dhabi and was a completely feral and frightened little kitten. Unfortunately, at the age of 8 weeks, she developed a severe upper respiratory infection. So I took her to the vet for treatment.
Due to the severity of the infection, she had to have her right eye surgically removed and her eyelids stitched closed. She came to my home where she could recover before getting her vaccinations and her microchip inserted.
"Unfortunately, she had an allergic reaction to one vaccination, and this had to be repeated several times before we could administer the booster, which was combined with a steroid injection to prevent any further reaction.
All through these months of vet visits and recovery, I worked with Kikki, showing her that she could trust me. Gradually she got used to being stroked and picked up. She settled in well with my other cats, loving the company during the days when I was at work, but happy to come for a cuddle when I got home.
Kikki has remained quite shy of strangers unless they offer her treats or toys, although sometime she loses track of the toy if it is moving very fast.
Over the last year, searches resulted in no one in Dubai adopting Kikki. But now she is about to leave Dubai and travel to her new foster home in Canada, where she will be allowed some time to adjust to new people and a new climate. Her new foster mum will then work on finding her a loving forever home in Canada."
Shyam Krishnan, accountant, Abu Dhabi
"My wife and I were looking for a friend for our Persian, Max, who got lonely while we were both away at work the entire day. My wife insisted we adopt a kitten instead of heading to the pet store, and she spotted Coco (who was then called Jasmin) on a rescue group on Facebook – the Bin Kitty Collective.
"We got in touch with a lady, who had already taken her off the streets and treated her eyes, dewormed and vaccinated her, and Coco came to us when she was a tiny month-old kitten.
Now, after almost 3 years, she's smart, sensitive, has an amazing personality and is very loving. She opens doors, is fiercely protective of her brother Max, plays fetch, likes to run away with bread from our plates, enjoys playing with kids and loves giving and receiving cuddles."
Brian Antao, insurance adviser, Dubai
"I had my Arabian Mau, Munnie, for 16 years. I used to feed her mama under the building while going to school until one day her mama left her.
Every morning she waited for me to feed her before I left. Then slowly she came to the first floor of my building, until one day she was sitting outside my house.
Through Feline Friends, I got her spayed. She still enjoyed going outside every so often and patrolled the entire building to stop other cats from coming in. She also went down with me whenever I played with my friends. She was more like a watchdog.
Unfortunately, when she was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with FIV [Feline Immunodeficiency Virus], after being bitten by another cat outside. We kept her inside since then, as the vet told us to do. She remained very healthy even after her diagnosis, and was never aggressive.
"She lived a very full life, but passed away at the age of 16 last year. I will always miss her. We grew up together and shared a totally different bond. She has always been a part of me."
Lisa Knight, founder of The Brand Foundation, Dubai
"Two years ago, we went to buy some jasmine flowers in Al Manara. Running in between the flower pots was this tiny, very ill and malnourished kitten.
There was no discussion, nothing, we just knew she would die if we didn't take her. She was so dehydrated that I had to sleep in the bathroom with her for a week, feeding her and keeping her warm with a hot water bottle. Eventually, she recovered.
Her treatment didn’t cost much. She just needed nourishment and TLC. We called her Jasmine and she’s been with us ever since."
Jillian Boscolo-Wienke, first officer (pilot) on the Airbus 380, Dubai
"This is our little Bonny. She was found in a box when she only 4 weeks old.
"We started fostering her and she suddenly got really, really ill. She was diagnosed with panleukopenia [feline distemper] and barely survived it.
She was on lots of medication for many days and even needed a blood transfusion to save her young life. All of this left her with CH [Cerebellar Hypoplasia], which basically means her cerebellum didn't grow enough, and now she walks like she's a bit tipsy because she can’t walk straight.
But don't be fooled, this resilient kitty has learnt how to get around just fine: kangaroo gallops and strong front legs to climb up on stuff. I'm so happy I didn't give up and that I decided to adopt her myself. The heartache of trying to re-home a kitten with this disability would be too much. And it helps that she is just the sweetest, cuddly little girl."