An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) based in Dubai has been fostering abandoned cats and has now a total of 17 fur babies in her home. She has rescued majority of them while in bad shape and has successfully nursed them back to health.
Lea Borja, 39, has been working in Dubai since 2018. She said she originally only had one kitten which she bought from a friend back in 2020.
“I originally have one, si Wiskers. I actually bought him, not from a breeder but a family na talagang love siya,” said Lea in an online interview with The Filipino Times.
To make sure that her pet does not get too lonely, Lea searched for a possible companion for Wiskers. While looking for the perfect cat, she came across a sick kitten which she feared would end up being left unsold or worse, thrown away for being poorly.
“He looks different. Sabi ko I had to get him kasi baka ‘di sya mabili and i-abandon, he was actually very sick when he went to my home. Tapos ayun sumunod na si Helios (he was very sick when I got him too) and the rest was history. Next thing I know I have 17 cats with me,” said Lea.
Responsible pet ownership
Seeing the awful conditions some of the cats were in before she fostered them, Lea cautions individuals in owning a pet if they are not a hundred percent committed to properly care for the cats.
“Expensive kasi talaga ang pag-own ng pet, lalo na for Expats like us. But once you decide to own one, you need to be prepared. ‘Di lang kasi sya about sa pagpapakain, you also need money to bring them to the vet for maintenance (vaccine, check-up, etc) most especially if they get sick and needs medical attention. Isa pa is when the owner will finally decide to leave Dubai, kailangan may sapat na funds to relocate the pets with them. Di ‘yung ipapa-adopt sa iba, worse i-a-abandon sa labas,” said Lea.
One of the cats that she now owns, Ansel, appears to have been abandoned for being unhealthy. After Lea took the cat in, it is now in good health and enjoys peaceful naps.
“First of all, people need to understand that owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. Sad to say, may mga tao na sa una lang gusto, ‘pag nanawa na or namamahalan na sa expenses, bigla na lang i-a-abandon ang mga pets nila. That’s one of the main reason why there are a lot of strays in Dubai,” said Lea.
Later on, she noticed that there are several stray cats along Barsha Heights. Out of compassion, she feeds the cats on a paper plate, waits or them to finish eating and cleans up the area afterwards. She does this voluntarily every night after her work.
“I use disposable paper plates and bowls for their food and water then nililinis ‘din para ‘di magreklamo din mga tao,” said Lea.
She advised the public to be responsible in attempting to feed cats to make sure it does not cause any sanitation issues in the community.
“One of the issues as well is may mga nag-fi-feed tapos madamihan, ikinakalat nila, causing issues din sa community. Di rin naman kinakain na ng mga cats ‘yun food pag matagal na exposed kaya dapat proper feeding talaga, di lang ‘yun basta nagpapakain,” said Lea.
Here are snaps of Lea’s 17 fur babies enjoying their meal.
Lea said that she wishes to raise awareness on Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) which is a method that would help in controlling feral and free-roaming cat populations in Dubai.
She also shared that there is a community of individuals advocating for responsible pet ownership, cat fostering and TNVR where cat lovers and owners can reach out for assistance or support. They are called Street Paws.
Until now, she continues to rescue more cats in bad shape and makes sure they get the best life possible as pets. She also happily shared that her children have acquired her love and passion for taking care of cats.
Last August 8, the International Cat Day was celebrated by many countries.