The felines that roam the streets of Abu Dhabi have finally been recognised as a species in their own right: the Arabian Mau. One of these used to sleep on the porch outside my building, pressed up against the glass on humid, sticky nights so as to enjoy the cold air blowing under the door. I still regret not taking photos of the scrawny wee thing and its kitten.
Unfortunately, there is a concerted campaign to cull stray cats in the UAE. Petra Mueller, who named the species (“mau” just means “cat”, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now),
hopes her discovery will help change attitudes towards the animals in the Middle East.
“Cats in the Arab world are traditionally thought to bring bad luck,”she said.“Unfortunately, a programme has been introduced in the UAE where street cats are trapped and then destroyed.
“I hope that the discovery of this unique breed will boost the identity of cats here and encourage people to buy or adopt them, as they are better suited for the climate.
“These cats are not only the national cats of the UAE but they can also be found all over the Gulf.”