Omani woman looks after 500 cats

NEWS AND COMMENT: Although Maryam al-Balushi finds cats and dogs more faithful than humans and clearly loves them, she has to look after almost 500 cats in her home because there is a stray cat problem in Oman where she lives. This is the crux of the matter. There are clearly not enough animal rescue centres in Oman and therefore good people like Maryam al-Balushi have to take up the slack. It is the irresponsible pepole bearing down on the responsible people and there has to be a limit to what she can do. I feel for the burden placed on her.

Maryam al-Balushi in her home surrounded by rescue cats
Maryam al-Balushi in her home surrounded by rescue cats. Photo: AFP.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

No doubt she does her work with a smile on her face but she cannot go on expanding the number of cats and dogs that she looks after without a limit. She lives in Oman’s capital Muscat. In the photograph you see her holding and admiring one of her cats with cages around her. She bought her home in 2014 (nice home) which allowed her to expand the number of cats that she looks after. She is a retired civil servant and 51-years-of-age. She retired early, perhaps to look after the cats.

Please note that sometimes videos like the one above stop working over a period of time and if that has happened I apologise.

Expense

It’s reported that the cats live in their cages but she lets them out in rotation. She spends $7,800 monthly to care for them. Seventeen of them are blind and she does a wonderful job. It all began in 2008 when her son bought a Persian cat which she said she refused to look after and she did not like animals! But her son did not look after the cat. A couple of years later she found herself looking after another cat and she gradually got into cat rescue.

I found myself totally immersed. I took care of her entirely, feeding her, bathing her and spending a lot of time with her.

And then what happened is what normally happens, people learn that she is a cat rescuer and so they bring their cats to her. Departing expatriates leave their cats on her doorstep; highlighting the temporary nature of cat ownership by some people. It seems that some foreigners living in Oman adopt a cat for the duration of their stay in the country. A strange philosophy.

Maryam attracts abandoned cats
Maryam attracts abandoned cats. Screenshot.

Cats help her

She claims that her huge menagerie of cats (and 12 dogs) helps to lighten her mood. And the Daily Mail newspaper online tell me that she has an impressive following on Instagram but I can’t find her Instagram page!

Celebrity

Her cats rescued her she said but for how long can she go on expanding the numbers of cats in her care? This is what would worry me. And it will get worse because people are writing about her. She’s become a bit of a celebrity online which will lead to more people abandoning their cats outside her home. Obviously she can’t refuse to look after them.

TNR needed in Oman

The real problem is that there appears to be a stray cat problem in Oman. They need local authority led TNR programs to stabilise the feral and stray cat numbers and gradually bring them down. This is being advocated by animal welfare activists but it’s common sense. And there is need for education. It’s been said millions of times before but when you adopt a cat or dog you do so for the life of the animal and you take on a big responsibility. There shouldn’t be a careless approach towards adopting a companion animal.

Maryam was orphaned

Perhaps one reason why she is so caring of these unwanted cats is because she was orphaned at a young age. I feel fairly sure that that is what drives her because she understands the feeling of being abandoned.

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