Local News

The cat crusaders

February 19 - 25 , 2020

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly The cat crusaders

A group of big-hearted feline-loving friends have launched a ‘purrr-fect’ rescue group to save the strays and abandoned kitties left to fend for themselves on the streets of Bahrain.

Rescat, which was founded by Laia Portet Codina, a historian living in Seef, was established in October last year to help rehome cats in the kingdom and abroad as well as care for the injured felines.

Laia and the board members, including founder of Bahrain Popup Market Maha Alsahhaf, editor-in-chief Jayne Houghton, thrift shop volunteer Jess Howarths, corporate Joylyn Fernandez, graphic designer Jenine Sharabi and lawyer Salma Mohsen, fund the group themselves to aid the kitties.

Laia said: “We saw a need to unify and systematise our financial, logistic and time efforts to make a greater impact on animal welfare in Bahrain. All the board members had already been cooperating with each other in some rescuing projects and share the same concerns, passion and goals with regards to stray and abandoned cats.

“The main reason why we co-founded Rescat was to make rescuing more bearable since it is emotionally draining and economically demanding. Having a team makes such a difference when it comes to rescuing not only in personal terms but also in terms of being more efficient and fairer to the animals you help and the people you work with.”

The cat crusade started with the aim of rescuing 68 moggies from an animal hoarder in Manama. The group also rescued and rehomed 35 cats in less than four months, some of which were saved by other individual rescuers.

The adoption centre may be located in Seef area but their rescuing efforts transcend national boarders since they mainly rehome abroad including the UK and Amsterdam

According to Jayne, who lives in Adliya, there are many ways to help their cat campaign. She said: “We have been very fortunate to have the support of Tails Veterinary Clinic for the treatment of animals, Jet Pet Global for helping us with our international relocations, Pet Arabia for grooming, Mak Today for supporting our educational programme, Bahrain Popup Market for its endless fundraising and Two Desk Studio for taking care of our communications.

“We have pending bills at the vet and the relocation service that we need help with. People can help by volunteering at our fundraisers or organise fundraisers on their own. Payments towards our pending bills can be made directly at the vet under the name of Rescat.”

Other forms of volunteering include assisting with tasks such as vet runs, spending time with the cats and photography to create social media content. Aside from spending time with the felines and funds for vet ad relocation bills, people can also donate cat litter, food, toys, cat houses, scratching posts, treats and travel crates. Fostering is another great option for people who would love to have pets but are not able to commit to them for a long term for various reasons.

“We encourage fostering of our cats so they get socialised and it helps us get an insight into their personalities which helps us with creating their adoption profiles,” said Laia. Rescat has already started its awareness programme with schools and their ultimate aim is to help improve the relationship of cats and humans. They conduct workshops, popup markets and one-day sales, GoFundMe pages for special needs cats and have volunteers and adopters abroad who also come up with original ideas to raise some money for the cats.

Jayne added: “Uncontrolled stray and feral cat population in Bahrain is a well-known problem but only very few people understand its roots and how to prevent or act on it. Many people still have the misbelief that, unlike dogs, cats do just fine in the streets and that they are meant to be outdoors.

“The truth, however, is that roaming cats are at risk for animal cruelty and poisoning. Contrary to popular belief, cats do not have the innate instinct to avoid busy streets and they frequently get hit by cars.

“Cats in the street live shorter and less healthy lives. Although some stray and feral cats may seem fine to the naked eye, they most certainly suffer or will suffer at some point from serious diseases that can be potentially fatal and which can be easily transmitted to pets that are allowed to roam free outdoors.

“Furthermore, a large percentage of cats start their lives as pets and have no idea how to survive in the urban landscape on their own. The very few cats who will adjust to the hazards of the street life, will live terrified for a very long time and will experience different sorts of aggression. All cats suffer tremendously when they are abandoned and rescuers have to work very hard on helping them to overcome psychological and emotional traumas before rehoming them.

“Hence, the stray cat problem is everyone’s problem. Unwanted cats are not happy nor meant to be in the streets. They are there because of human inconsideration and it is time for people to start taking responsibility and change their mind-sets. If people help get the cats in their locality spayed it will immensely control their population.”

To find out more, follow them @rescatofficial on Instagram.

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