Unraveling the Life of Cats in Shamali

Haleema Khan, Staff Reporter

(Photo/ Haleema Khan)

Dorm life can often become lonely and monotonous, making residents at the Qatar Foundation Student Housing miss their homes more than they usually do. In those times, cats in both the complexes, Janoubi Village and Shamali Village, help make the lives of residents more eventful.

Both complexes are populated with a great number of cats, which calls into question their origin: Where do these cats come from? They gather from areas surrounding the student housing village, according to the Head of Residence Life Matthew J. Nelson. Similarly, because they are not spayed or neutered, kittens are periodically born in the areas surrounding these villages.

The growing population of these cats poses the question of whether QF Housing has an explicit policy in place to protect and look after them. “These policies state that animals unaccompanied by their owners, or that have no identifiable tags, found on QF premises will be treated as strays and are liable to be removed from the site by government agencies or QF personnel,” Nelson affirmed.

He further explained that with an approved medical accommodation, small fish and service animals are allowed inside the QF Student Housing. While these are the rules set in place, QF Housing is collaboratively working with interested students, many of whom enjoy the presence of the stray cats, to support the needs of these cats, such as designating specific feeding areas for them.

However, lately, in Fall 2020, the removal of some cats from the premises caused concern among the cat-lovers in the female student housing. These cats were allegedly captured in mouse traps by workers in Shamali Village, according to two students.

“When I came to Doha, I had to leave my cats behind and it took a toll on my mental health. Spending time with the cats in Shamali really helped me cope with that and I ended up getting really attached to them. I haven’t seen Raven, the famous black kitten who I literally raised, in so long and I am worried if he’s okay,” stated Makeisha Amir, a resident at Shamali Village. 

“It’s hard for me to ignore street cats when I see them because I was born in a community with many of them. My family has a habit of taking care of the street cats, and I saw a lot of news of their abuse. But I also understand the people who are afraid of cats and whose sleep is affected by their presence,” said Mary Su, another resident at Shamali Village.

Nelson explained that the expanding population of cats around both the Student Housing Villages has raised concerns relating to the health and safety of residents. Many residents placed smell and noise complaints as a result of catfights occurring in the middle of the night. “As a result,” he said, “we have worked with QF General Services to catch and release most of the cats.” The intention he elaborated is to maintain a small number of cats within QF while continuing to monitor the overall population. 

Likewise, to accommodate both the cat-lovers and the residents who prefer not having cats around, he added that the housing officials are working with the Residential Student Government to ensure these cats are spayed/neutered and vaccinated with the intention to maintain a small number of cats within QF while continuing to monitor the overall population. This is done while ensuring the cats’ health and safety, said Hakem Al-Meqdad, a member of RSG.If the numbers increase beyond what we feel is an acceptable level, then some of the cats will continue to be caught and released,” Nelson concluded.

(Photo/ Haleema Khan)

Worried about the welfare of these cats, some Shamali residents have come together and formed a group that pitches-in for the cats’ trips to the vet and other expenses including food. The WhatsApp group, “Vet Expenses,” formed in November 2020, when a resident found an injured cat limping on Shamali grounds and reached out to her friends to help pay for the expenses. At the time of writing, the WhatsApp chat has 25 members.

“The aim of this group is to generally help out if we see a cat in need. If we see a kitten that needs to be adopted, we put feelers out to see if there is anyone who can take care of the cat. If we see a cat that has an infection, we pitch in funds to take it to the vet,” said Aiza A. Khan, a member of the group. 

When asked about the financial dealings of the group, she explained that there is no set method for the members to split up the expenses amongst themselves. “Everyone pitches whatever they can. Once the goal is met, the person who takes the cat to the vet simply lets us know,” she said. The cats have been a source of comfort for some perpetually and their love is being reciprocated through Vet Expenses.

 “While it is important to take into account the welfare of individuals with phobias and allergies, these animals can’t be abandoned and need someone to take care of them,” said Sarah Shamim, a member of Vet expenses. “Hence, a balance must be struck where everyone is as comfortable as possible. This can be done while following the rules and regulations laid down by Qatar.”

Facebook Comments Box