Crossfield’s Tails to Tell Animal Rescue Shelter’s newest guest came all the way from Abu Dhabi.
The cat was rescued Nov. 4, 2017, by Kim Mikkelsen, a volunteer with Abu Dhabi Animal Welfare, and brought to Canada Dec. 14, 2017.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which has an issue with feral cats, according to Mikkelsen.
“ Expats purchase or bring cats into the country and, when they are repatriated back to the country of origin, they abandon their pets to live outside rather than pay money to bring them home,” she said. “ Most of these cats have serious issues adapting to the heat, starvation, finding territory to live.”
She said most of them are also pregnant when they are abandoned. Abu Dhabi Animal Welfare traps, neuters, tags and returns the cats to specific areas where they can be fed, she said.
“ You cannot feed a cat without ensuring that it is neutered as the cat population will explode exponentially,” she said.
Mikkelsen is currently living in Abu Dhabi and working for a Canadian company to provide technical engineering to a project in Northern Iraq.
“ Right now I have a colony of around 20 feral cats whom have all been neutered and show up on a daily basis for food time at my health club,” she said. “ On Oct. 31 (2017), I was feeding the club cats at 5:30 a.m., when I noticed a small, tiny kitten on one of the food plates. I tried to ignore her and was successful for around five days but she was living in a parking lot and when she was almost driven over several times I started to get concerned.”
Although she is allergic to cats, Mikkelsen took the cat to a veterinary clinic and was told it was in perfect health.
“ Taking a kitten off the streets in Abu Dhabi is a horrendous responsibility, but returning a cat who has no issues breaks my heart,” she said. “ Once you habituate a cat they shouldn’t be returned to the streets. It’s a horrible life and many cats are abused.”
There are a few animal rescue organizations in Abu Dhabi but they are currently overloaded and not accepting new cats, she said. Mikkelsen took the cat, which she named Cindy, to her apartment to live with her for six weeks.
After filling out paperwork, Cindy flew with Mikkelsen to Canada Dec. 14, 2017. Edna Jackson, owner of Tails to Tell Animal Rescue Shelter, met them at the Calgary International Airport and took the cat to the shelter.
Mikkelsen said she heard of the organization through a friend who works with rescue animals in Vancouver. She got in touch with Jackson, who agreed to take the cat.
“ As I was coming home to Canada and then off to Maui, I did not want to dump her in a kennel. She needs a calm environment where she can acclimatize to her new life. Edna has given her a calm and nurturing environment with people and other animals,” she said.
Jackson said Cindy is happily settling into her new surroundings. The cat is an Arabian Mau and is five months old.
According to Mikkelsen, these kind of cats love to run, have no undercoat and big ears to expel heat, so coming to Canada in freezing temperatures has been an adjustment. Jackson said the cat hid under towels to stay warm during her first week at the shelter.
“ She’s just bouncing around and running around the place now, like as if this is where she’s always been,” Jackson said.
Once Cindy gets a clean bill of health from the vet, she will be up for adoption.
“ Everyone should try to give back to society in a small way. But in reality, you can only do so much – most of the time you just have to let nature take its course. But every once in a while you find yourself in a situation that you can actually do something,” Mikkelsen said. “ The timing was good, the fact that I was flying home to Canada and I was flying with Air Canada where she was allowed to fly inside the cabin helped. But the fact that I found Edna was the most important. Without Edna there would have been no rescue… .”