Animal rescuer Raghad Auttabashi feeds cats at her home in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Abdul Rahman /Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: An animal volunteer group known as Al Rahma (meaning merciful in Arabic) is eager to educate residents regarding the importance of keeping street cats alive in the city.

According to research conducted by the World Cat Foundation (WCF), UAE street cats, known as the Arabian Mau, date back 5,000 years, making them the oldest cat breed in the world.

Maus are originally desert cats that moved to the more populated areas in search of shelter and food.

Most of them live on and around streets and very few are taken into homes.

Now the breed is being put down by pest control contractors, under the Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM), who trap and put down at least 10 healthy cats per day, according to an earlier report by Gulf News.

Shelters

As previously agreed with Feline Friends Abu Dhabi (FFAD), healthy street cats are supposed to be placed in individual cages and transported to safe shelters overnight, where they are given water and food. The next morning they are supposed to be sent to a veterinary clinic to be sterilised if healthy or put down if not.

Animal rescuer and volunteer at Al Rahma, Raghad Auttabashi, has saved more than 200 street cats in the past three months and found homes for them.

She also homes 15 street cats in her own studio and feeds up to 40 cats who congregate around her house on a daily basis.

"Any cat over five years of age is being euthanised because they consider them old even if they are healthy," she said in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.

"They also euthanise cats less than three months or any cat that has the flu.

"It's the most inhumane thing to do, since innocent cats are being killed by the day without anyone understanding their true value," said Auttabashi, who added that street cats can be environmentally beneficial.

"Cats can catch rats and insects instead of using environmentally harmful pesticides.

"It has also been scientifically proven that cats can improve a child's immune system and are good for a person's heartbeat. So the more you feed a street cat, the better the hunter she becomes and the cleaner your surroundings will be," added the animal rescuer.

FFAD founder Anita Signorino has complained that there are over 40 cats at the Abu Dhabi free beach that are growing in number due to not being sterilised.

"We'd like to have a public campaign called ‘Sterilise the Free Beach Cats'. This is very timely as the International Spay Day is coming up in February," said Signorino.

The ADM has decreed that cats with a V clipped in their ears (this is how a sterilised street cat is distinguished) are to be left alone since they will not breed.

Donations needed to fund sterilisations

• If you would like to save healthy cats by having them sterilised you can drop your donation at either the American Vet Clinic (AVC), British Vet Clinic (BVC) or German Vet Clinic (GVC). Please drop your envelopes marked Sterilise The Free Beach Cats.

• If you want to feed an animal and feel good about helping a stray in need, please contact Raghad, an animal rescuer and volunteer at Al Rahma on 050-6829291.