By Jennifer Bell
ABU DHABI // Dozens of sick and starving kittens are being nursed back to health after being dumped in the Northern Emirates.
Wags and Purrs animal charity acted on a tip that an unwanted litter was about to be released on the streets of Fujairah, and found 65 malnourished kittens, 10 of which have since died.
“We knew they were going to be dumped,” said Daad Nassif, founder of the charity. “We had friends in the area who managed to get hold of all the cats.”
A cat-lover in Ajman known to the animal charity has agreed to temporarily foster all of them until they are well enough to be re-homed.
“The 55 are basically skin and bone, they are famished,” Ms Nassif said. “They attack the food plates like they have not eaten in weeks.”
Most of the kittens, which were rescued on Thursday, are between six and 10 weeks old, she said. However, a few are thought to be two weeks old.
“Their physical condition is still under scrutiny,” Ms Nassif said. “We found one to be positive for panleukopenia, which means all the kittens now have to be isolated and monitored for 15 days.”
Panleukopenia is an infectious disease that causes blood cell deficiencies and a leading cause of death in kittens.
“We hope that it doesn’t spread among them because if it does it is 95 per cent deadly,” she said.
Fifteen kittens have ringworm, five have severe eye infections and another will likely need an amputation.
Pictures posted on the group’s Facebook page drew horrified reactions from animal lovers.
“What is the matter with people?,” said one. “So sad.”
“Absolutely mortifying,” said another.
Ms Nassif said while the pictures had caused some distress, the images did not show the true plight of the cats.
“Nothing compares to actually touching these kittens and feeling how skinny and bony they are,” she said.
In February, the group rescued 90 cats from an unlicensed shelter in Dubai.
The number of strays being abandoned is high because of an underutilisation of trap-neuter-return programmes for feral cats, she said.
“When people do not take care of the community cats around them then they end up ultimately being dumped somewhere.”
The kittens cannot be re-homed until they are healthy, and the charity is seeking donations for vet bills, food, litter trays, blankets and towels.
People can donate by sending a message or by making donations – marked Wags and Purrs Fujairah kittens – to the Creature Oasis pet store in Dubai.
Sarah Bartlett, spokeswoman for Animal Action UAE in Abu Dhabi, said many animal charities are seeing a rise in unwanted kittens. “We are seeing an unprecedented demand for us to take more animals on but we simply do not have enough volunteers to help,” she said.