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Mike O'Hara and wife Camelia O'Hara has over hundred cats at their home. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: An expat couple – Mike O’Hara (Irish cum Indian) and Camilla O’Hara (Romanian) own 67 cats in Dubai.

Mike and Camilla, who run a vet clinic called Mike’s Vet, said the 67 cats live in their sprawling Al Barsha villa in Dubai.

The couple also have three dogs and two chicken.


“A major portion of our monthly spend goes towards their vet bills and their food. This is followed by the cost towards their litter. It helps that we have opened our own vet clinic now.”

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Abbey Marsh, who has rescued 250 cats in three years’ time, is a licensed cat sitter. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani | Gulf News

The monthly shopping for food for the cats runs into hundreds of kilos. “We buy 150kg of chicken, 400kg of dry biscuits and over 700 wet pouches every month,” said Camilla. Why they do what they do

The couple figures they have rescued 1,250 cats in the last 10 years.

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Kittens in the house of Abbey Marsh, who rescues stray cats and does TNR (trap-neuter-return). Image Credit: Virendra Saklani | Gulf News

They both grew up with pets at home.

“Caring for pets has just been part of our growing up. Nineteen years ago, we rescued a cat and brought her home. Then we got two more cats. In 2010, when we moved to a villa and the rescues just started to grow. At one point, we had over 100 cats living in our villa. That is just the scale of strays we find literally on a daily basis in the UAE,” said Mike.

Camilla said: “We wanted to disrupt the current environment of veterinary practices and bring a new angle from a cat rescuing perspective. The idea is to bridge the gap in vet commercials with animal care — all into a sensibly priced model while delivering the best customer care.”

Meanwhile, British expat Abbey Marsh is also doing her bit to save abandoned cats in the UAE. Since 2019, when she moved to the UAE from the UK, she has been rescuing cats. “I love animals but I was not actively involved in animal welfare earlier. Seeing so many stray cats on the streets made me look at volunteering work to save cats. When the pandemic occurred, the need of the hour was for people to adopt cats.”

Joy of helping

“My first rescue happened to be an Arabian Mau. I named him Wimbledon. The rest is history as they say,” she said.

“I am predominately helping with the Arabian Mau, the local breed of cats in the UAE," said Marsh. "The joy that comes with helping cats is a great feeling. The ultimate goal is to continue my journey helping as many animals as possible,” said Marsh. Her team do TNR (trap-neuter-return) for stray cats and rescue as many helpless and injured animals as they can.

“The idea is to find them all a loving home.”

“There are thousands of cats that are homeless in the UAE. If we don’t take care of their TNR, they will continue to breed and live in extremely hot and dangerous conditions. The life expectancy of a cat living on the street is two to five years, compared to a homed cat which is 10-20 years. We want the latter for our furry animals.”

Are you ready to foster?

Marsh said: “There is always a need for a foster home in the UAE. So if you are one of those not ready to adopt a cat but considering fostering? All you need to do is provide a temporary loving home whilst the cat finds its forever family. We just ask the foster to provide the basic supplies of food, bowls, litter trays and a loving home.”

Her pet firm, Mau and Me, offers pet sitting services. Marsh said a percentage of the proceeds the of Mau and Me pet sitting goes into helping more rescues and TNR.

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Abbey Marsh's pet firm, Mau and Me, offers pet sitting services and helps foster rescued cats. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani | Gulf News

“We all know how much our little furry friends mean to us but paw-parents also need their down time. Whether you’re travelling outside the country, or fancy a staycation or even just want to pop out for a day of errands, you can count on our sitting team to keep your pets company.”