Because it matters

Curbing Dubai’s Cat-astrophe

Post 826 of 930

There are some incidents in our lives that hit us so hard that we feel compelled to do just about anything to try and bring a change. For me such an incident occurred a few weeks back…

Before I begin, I’d like to say that I am not a writer for this magazine. What do I do for a living? I write press releases; stirring conversation in the media sphere about issues that matter and sometimes that do not matter is what I do best.

In conversation with Injeel Firoz Moti.

It was a regular Wednesday evening, I was on my way from one media event to another when I came face to face with Geeta or the ‘Cat Woman’ as I like to call her. The plush Jumierah neighborhood is a few minutes’ drive from the luxurious Burj Al Arab, which is where I was attending the launch of a new beauty center.

As I made my way out of the premise I noticed a few cats running around the parking lot. I have a few cats in my
building that I feed every day, and so my car always has a stash of emergency kitty food. The sight of those lovely cats was too much to bear so I filled up two bowls of friskies cat biscuits for them to munch on. I stayed for a while watching them eat, instantly feeling better on the inside.

After sitting on the curb for a few minutes, while walking towards my car I noticed a shadow lurking around in the
empty lot next to a villa with abandoned cats. The woman was fast approaching me whilst waving her arms in the air as though calling me out. I stepped out of my car and began walking towards her, and noticed she was carrying a large bucket of cat food herself. We instantly connected and what followed was a tale that had me so deeply moved that I felt compelled to do something, just anything to help out this woman.

Her name is Geeta, and she works as a part-time driver picking and dropping school children. Her husband is a
mechanical engineer at a government plant. The couple live in a quaint apartment in Satwa and have two young
daughters who are both studying in their home country – Srilanka.

Geeta singlehandedly looks after the daily well-being of over 75 cats, 35 of which are in Jumeirah alone. It is not just their diet she looks after, Geeta has also gotten 90% of the cats sterilized to avoid an increase in the area’s cat population.

My first question to her was how she was managing to afford this. She shrugged and said “I don’t know, I have taken so many cats to the clinic, they now offer me a special discount, and sometimes people donate as well, but usually my husband and I use whatever we have to help the cats.”

Carrying more than 10kgs of food in her car and several bottles of water, she goes around the area feeding her beloved felines. The cats begin to meow as they see her approaching and come running towards her. She scoops a grey 3-legged cat in her arms and says “This one’s my favorite, he has lost a leg but still runs around like he’s got all four. I admire him for his spirit, us humans can learn so much from animals.”

Geeta walks around the area for more than an hour going into several lanes, nooks and corners feeding the abandoned felines. She ducks under cars, squeezes between walls and climbs a few as well since some of the cats are shy and do not come out to eat.

“I know the habits of each and every one of them as I have been feeding them for the last 12 years. This one makes me climb the wall each day, he only eats if I keep the food on top of the wall. He won’t come down to eat. It’s fine, it helps me stay fit.” she says while pointing at a ginger cat, letting out a hearty laugh.

After almost two hours Geeta stops to take a short break. “It’s tiring, I get very tired nowadays. But I can’t sleep at night if I don’t do this for even a single day. I know if I don’t do it, then no one will”

After covering the area, she heads home for a brief tea break and ventures out again to feed the cats in Satwa. The journey has not been easy; apart from struggling with arranging funds for food and sterilization, Geeta has also faced immense criticism for doing what she does. “People don’t like it when I feed the cats near their villas. They don’t like the cats resting on their front yard grass either. I have come across people spraying the cats with water and even kicking them.”

“I try and feed away from the houses, as I do not want them hurting the cats. It is extremely sad to see humans treating a living thing in such a manner. These animals are helpless as it is, if we won’t help them then who will’? she says with the question looming in her anxious eyes.

Geeta is what you can call a ‘Hero of our Society’ in its most real sense. Her resilient sprit, kind heart and undying compassion for these animals had me weeping on the inside.

If you would like to get involved and contribute to Geetas’ cause then please get in touch. You could donate food,
money, throwaway bowls, and used utensils; anything that can be utilized for the cats’ well-being. If you’d like to join Geeta on one her feeding trips, we’d be happy to help with that too. I’m sure our local Cat Woman would be more than happy to welcome any and all help that comes her way!