Feline Friends is an animal welfare group in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, that rescues street cats and kittens and re-homes them in the UAE. A few years ago I received this email in my inbox from Feline Friends.
"This is Karen again, on the Feline Friends emergency mobile.
I just got a call from a man who has been in Abu Dhabi for only a few weeks and he bought a purebred Balinese kitten (11 weeks old). Then a little tabby walked into his office and he adopted it (9 weeks old). He has just found out he is not allowed to keep any pets in his apartment so is scrambling to find them a home.
With Eid upon us and Feline Friends completely full, his options are pretty limited and he is very worried about repercussions if he keeps them - even fairly well hidden. Does anybody know of someone who can take them until he can home them or until FF can take them in. We have a very looonnnnggg waiting list right now so I don't know when we'd be able to take them."
After receiving this email I immediately wanted to help out. I decided not to worry about the consequences that my husband might not be as enthusiastic as I am, especially as cats were not really his favourite choice of pet. However, I thought to myself if I tell him it is only temporary until they find new homes and the fact that I am home most of the day working in my studio, he might think that it would be some company for me meanwhile.
I cannot remember the name of the owner that brought them around to me and I feel sad that I have forgotten his name. However, it was clear that he had bonded with these kittens, especially the little street one and was devastated about having to give them away. The kittens names were Philby and Sham. Philby was the Balinese and Sham was the stray kitten he had rescued from the streets. Sham looked a little like an Egyptian Sphinx cat, long and lean with the largest pointy ears I had seen on a cat of this size, they almost looked like mini pyramids on top of his head. It was clear from the moment he let them out of their carry cage that Sham was an obvious character and without any hesitation he began to explore his new surroundings.
My husband came home that evening and Sham made a mad dash to him as soon as he arrived with Philby sedately following behind. Sham was rubbing up against my husbands leg and purring like a locomotive. My husbands first words were, hmmm "what exactly is this!" I was quick to reply I am just fostering them don't worry, they will be going to new homes as soon as some can be found. My husband was not impressed but I managed to persuade him that this was temporary and I would try not get too attached to them.
That evening I was cooking some chicken in a pan and turned off the heat and went to the living room to get something and when I came back Sham was on the kitchen bench, one paw in the pan, realising it was hot and grabbing at the chicken with his paw as if he was touching hot coals but each time trying to secure that piece of chicken with his claws without burning his little pads. He was obviously a skilled kitten in the laws of survival which he had clearly picked up from living on the streets. This was just the first of a string of incidences, one being me hearing a noise in the kitchen which sounded like my pedal bin being attacked but each time I walked into the kitchen the noise had stopped and not a culprit to be found. Hearing the noise yet again I stood by the door and then realised that Sham was actually inside my pedal bin, lid down, having a wonderful time eating scraps. He was a well fed cat but his hunting instincts of getting into rubbish bins obviously was something he couldn't shake off.
Sham took quickly to my husband, probably because he had been rescued by a male. Sham would sit by the door around half an hour before my husband was due home, just like a dog might wait for his owner. He was the most intelligent young cat I had ever seen. He absolutely adored my husband and three weeks after they arrived I realised my husband was actually beginning to bond with the cat as he was not turfing him off his lap as much. Sham followed my husbands every step and would be sitting on his lap or perched like a parrot on his shoulder at any moment he could. My husband would shrug off the any comments about him getting attached to the kitten.
One weekend when my husband was having an afternoon nap, I managed to get this shot of the two of them. I might be in trouble for including this photo but I wanted to share it with everyone as I think its so sweet. There is also a Chinese proverb I wanted to share about happiness......
If you want happiness.....
For an hour - take a nap
For a day - go fishing
for a month - get married
For a year - inherit a fortune
For a lifetime - help someone else.
This photograph I took depicts the happiness in an "hours nap" mentioned above. I certainly know that Sham was happy at that moment. Apologies to my husband who might not be so flattered about this photo!
I think at this stage my husband had given up trying to shoo Sham away!
Sham and Philby - Look at those ears like little pyramids on top of Shams head!
If you wish to find out more about Feline Friends click on the photos above.