Operation Kitty Rescue – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia



Donna is a dear friend of mine here in Riyadh. We actually became acquainted through our mutual love of animals and particularly cats. Donna, as her story clearly illustrates, is a very compassionate individual. If she were able, she would personally get every cat in the Kingdom off the streets and into a loving home. I hope that when you read about her current efforts to save some kitties due to the demolishment of a large compound you may or perhaps know others who can assist her in her efforts to find homes for these Saudi street cats which she and her daughters have lovingly tamed and looked after and now need permanent homes.



A cat rescue effort continues in Riyadh. A colony of roughly 20 cats were in serious jeopardy as the compound they called their home was recently vacated to prepare for demolition in order to make way for a new development. As the compound is located in the heart of the city, surrounded by busy thoroughfares and ongoing construction, these cats literally had nowhere to go. Many were quite tame as they were generally well looked after by compound residents.



The first part of the effort was to spay/neuter as many cats as possible before the deadline to move. Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of our two vets, Dr. Majed El-Hayek and Dr. Nick Ocampo, who caught, operated on, transported and boarded the kitties, we were able to spay/neuter 14 cats on a very tight time schedule. Special appreciation goes to the kind and caring people, new friends all, who came forward to adopt seven of them. One is a special needs kitty who required an amputation of her front leg. She was adopted by a Saudi doctor here in Riyadh, a kind lady with a quiet
environment which is just what this shy little cat needed. Another was adopted by a Saudi-American family, and the same couple drove two others on a six hour journey to a new home in the Eastern Province. I was also told that two of the cats that were looked after by the maintenance crew were taken by them as they left the compound. Ten cats were relocated to a new residential area. Since it is vast, we don’t see them regularly but with the exception of one, they have all been sighted and seem to be doing fine. One seems to have been adopted by a family in a nearby building, as we discovered a bowl of water and cat food on the balcony he took up residence on.


This week we went back check on the status of the cats we had to leave behind, either because we couldn’t locate them or they had small kittens stashed.  The situation was heartbreaking!  The buildings are just shells now and the whole place is littered with debris.  We had to pick our way over piles of broken glass, twisted metal, uprooted shrubbery and remnants of the interior.  We couldn’t imagine anyone was still there – but they were!  We called their names and one came running from our building, so skinny and dirty!  We found another who used to be a fat, jolly fellow and he is now almost a ghost.  He was terrified and hiding in a utility room.  He absolutely refused to come out, so we just left him some food, and hope to get him later.  Then we discovered the mother with kittens.  She had given birth 3 days before we left and I had no choice but to leave her.  Amazingly, she was there and the kittens were thriving.  God bless the workers who have been feeding the cats.  We were only able to get the mom and one kitten; we returned the next day and caught another kitten and our favorite tom cat.  We had given up on him, thought he had left the area, but he emerged from our building also.  Poor, poor guy!  A lot of his hair has fallen out and his body is dotted with small scabs.  We think maybe it was cut from glass or Dr. Majed suggested it may be a reaction to some chemical or something.  Again, so thin and dirty!  We put him on the bathroom floor and gently poured buckets of water over him and massaged him with kitty shampoo.  He loved it! He spent the better part of today curled up on my bed.


We will make every possible effort to catch the remaining cats and kittens. There is another group of kittens, but they are high up on the roof of a building, and unless the workers are able to get them, it is impossible for us. Unfortunately, time is running out as the buildings are scheduled to come down within a couple of weeks. However, I cannot deny, and will be forever grateful for the phenomenal success of the effort. We accomplished more than I dreamed possible thanks to the caring and committed people involved. My goal now is to find homes for the kittens I am currently boarding in my home. I currently have two (and hopefully will get the third one soon). They are a male and a female, six weeks old. A darling set. They look like twins! After they are adopted, I hope to spay the mother and release her in her new, safer territory. I also have to work on restoring the poor tom cat that seems much traumatized by the whole ordeal. He is not the most beautiful cat, but probably the sweetest I have ever seen. A big baby! He was well-loved on the compound. Several families claimed him as “their cat”. He had a least three different names. We named him “Freedom”, which is the name he responded to when he came dashing from the building. If anyone is interested in adoption please contact me at my personal e-mail ASAP. Also, I urge anyone in the Kingdom who has a pet, is caring for a feral or just loves animals to join our Yahoo group, Saudipets,([email protected]) to link with people who want to try and do more for the animals in KSA.




d.alterkawi(at symbol)gmail.com





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