Dubai's 'cat heroes' tell of changed lives after Sheikh Mohammed's Dh50,000 reward

Rescuers caught a pregnant cat that fell from a Dubai balcony in August

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Four men each awarded Dh50,000 ($13,600) by the Ruler of Dubai for catching a falling feline say the reward has changed their lives.

In August, three men saved a pregnant cat that slipped from a balcony in the Al Marar area in Deira, Dubai, catching the animal on an outstretched bedsheet.

This was caught on video by a nearby shopkeeper and the posted footage went viral. It was shared by Sheikh Mohammed and was liked more than 20,000 times.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, praised the men’s efforts and surprised them with the cash reward – including the grocery store owner who filmed the scene.

Indian bus driver Naseer Muhammad, 50, said he has now paid off a loan to build his four-bedroom house in Kerala, southern India.

“It was a very kind gesture that really helped me in a big way. I was able to pay my home loan. We started the construction of the house about one year ago and we didn’t think that we’d be able to pay it off so quickly,” Mr Muhammad, who has been a Dubai resident for 13 years, told The National.

“My wife and kids now live in that house and it’s very comforting knowing that we have paid the entire loan off.

"I saved the cat because it was the right thing and not for a reward, but the money has really helped.”

Bus driver Naseer Muhammad, 50, paid off a loan to build this $40,000 four-bedroom house in Kerala. Photo: Naseer Muhammad

Mr Muhammad said he spent about Dh24,500 on his home loan and has given the rest to charitable causes – including to a neighbour in India and a hospital patient who needed kidney dialysis.

It was Mr Muhammad who first noticed the cat was stuck on the balcony and rushed down with a towel and bedsheet to catch it.

Government officials took responsibility for the rescued cat, but Mr Muhammad hopes to be reunited with her one day.

“It would be good to see her. I love cats and have some of my own. But that cat was special and it would be nice to see how she’s doing,” he said.

Rashid Mohammed, 25, the Indian owner of a nearby grocery store captured the rescue on his camera phone.

He has put most of his reward into a new grocery shop he plans to open with a partner next month.

“I have invested the money in my business and have given some to my relatives for help,” Mr Mohammed said.

“I’m really grateful for the reward. It will really help us expand. My father has had this grocery store for 35 years and we can build on that experience now.”

Mr Mohammed said the cat used to come to his grocery store nearly every day and that she was “loved by a lot of people” in the neighbourhood.

He said he would also like to see her again one day.

“We used to feed her every time she visited us at our store. I never imagined the impact we would have on each other’s lives.

"I really hope she’s living a royal life now.”

A Moroccan security guard and a Pakistani salesman who helped catch the cat were also rewarded.

Updated: December 21, 2021, 5:44 AM