The Ailuromania Cat Cafe in Dubai, which was the Middle East’s first cat cafe when it opened in 2015, hopes to find forever homes for its 25 rescue and shelter cats. The cat cafe doubles as an adoption center for some of the many stray cats in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Anyone who is stressed just has to find a cat. All your stress will go away,” said Omnia Fareed, whose two cat-loving sisters Allaa and Iman started the cafe after university. The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years.
Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions. The cafe’s name Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word for a lover of cats: ailurophile.
The cafe has regular customers who come seeking relaxation or because they cannot keep a cat at home. “They are so cute, they love playing,” said visitor Shaasthra. She said she appreciates how the cafe looks after the cats’ welfare by advising people not to hold them or wake them up.
Dubai has a large number of stray cats, with many abandoned on the streets by their owners. for years, animal welfare activists in Dubai have called for a large-scale trap-neuter-release (NITR) scheme and feeding programs to bring numbers down humanely.
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