Omani woman juggles 480 cats and 12 dogs!

Omani woman juggles 480 cats and 12 dogs!

Muscat: More than a dozen cats and dogs vie for Maryam al-Balushi’s attention as she hands out treats on a bed in her home in Oman’s capital Muscat!

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Despite complaints from neighbours and mounting expense, she has accumulated 480 cats and 12 dogs, describing her pets as a mood-lifter and better companions than her fellow humans.

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“I find that animals, especially cats and dogs, are more faithful than humans,” she said as cats jumped on and off a nearby scratching pole. Orphaned at a young age, Balushi has grown her menagerie over the past decade, identifying with her furry friends, many of which were rescued from hard lives on the street.

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Oman has seen an upswing in stray and abandoned animals in recent years, local media report, despite penalties of $25 for dumping a pet. Animal welfare activists have advocated a programme of “trap, neuter, release” to bring down the number of strays.

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Balushi spends about $7,800 monthly to care for the creatures, 17 of which are blind, diligently feeding and cleaning them as well as taking them to the veterinarian for medical attention. Her home is now full of cages, with Balushi letting them out to exercise and play in rotation.

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‘Lifeline’: “It all began in 2008 when my son bought a small Persian cat,” said Balushi, 51, a retired civil servant, wearing a dusky pink abaya and immaculate makeup. “Like many mothers, I refused to look after it as I did not like animals and my son did not pay it much attention or look after its hygiene.”

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