Dubai: A long-time Dubai resident is attempting to get the Arabian Mau, a cat breed native to the UAE, registered with the World Cat Federation.

Petra Muller says it all started when she was feeding street cats out in her back yard in Umm Sequim. She noticed that many of the cats exhibited distinctive traits and characteristics and realised that they were in fact a breed that had yet to be recognised.

The cat lover claims that the breed have good immune systems and resistance to disease, which they have developed in the wild and are well suited to the local climate. The department of Animal Welfare, which falls under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment and Water, was informed and some staff have visited Muller at her home, where she is now breeding the cats.

Anneliese Hackmann, President and Founder of the World Cat Federation, who is currently in Dubai as a judge at a cat show, said she is sure the breed will be formally recognised at the organisation's next general assembly.

In order for a new breed to be recognised, four generations of the cats have to be observed. Then judges from the federation will look at the cats' eyes, ears, body composition, in order to define the characteristics of the breed.

Muller says the cats come in three distinctive varieties: white, tiger stripe and with black and white patches. Muller will present the cats for breed registration when the World Cat Federation holds its next general assembly in Germany in August 2008.

These cats and others are being exhibited at the Cat Show at the Children's City at the Creek Park which runs from 9am to 9pm till today. Jillian Kirkwood of Feline Friends in Abu Dhabi said: "It is absolutely wonderful that the Arabian Mau is being proposed as a recognised breed."

She works with homing cats that come to the organisation and can recognise the breed on sight. "It's the best thing that's ever happened, that the UAE is home to the newest and perhaps rarest breed of cat. We're thrilled." She said it was interesting that "these little cats that we see running around on the streets will actually be considered pedigreed animals".