AMMAN, Jordan — From a dying cat next to a garbage dump in the streets of the Jordanian capital Amman to a cat living a luxurious, healthy life, Fattosha, with its fur clean and neat, sits on a comfortable pillow, after having devoured a copious meal that its rescuer had prepared.
Fattosha was one of 28 cats that Uday and Heba Abu Hadid rescued from homelessness and took in.
The rescue of Fattosha inspired the couple to open a hotel for cats in Jordan in August, to house rescued cats or cat-sit for those whose owners cannot take care of their cat due to travel or other commitments for a daily fee of $7.
Mau Hotel is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the north of Amman in the New Badr area, and can accommodate 16 cats that receive full hotel services with food, drink, play and veterinary services.
Uday told Al-Monitor that the hotel “provides the service of transporting the cat from the house of its owners to the hotel and vice versa, after communicating with them through Facebook or Instagram.”
The hotel also houses cats that have been rescued from the streets.
“My wife Heba and I were able to pull this off, after reading about cats, rescuing them and taking them to the vet for a long time. Cats cannot express pain and tiredness except through the sounds they make. We rescued different types, including local, Angora, Shirazi and Russian Blue cats,” he said.
He added, “We have about 28 cats that were rescued, in addition to separate hotel rooms that can accommodate 16 cats."
To maintain a safe and healthy environment for all the cats, guests have to be fully vaccinated.
The hotel has a large room with individual cages, and it is spacious enough for the cats to play and sit on windowsills, sofas and drawers.
Uday said, “Cat owners like the hotel and say that they can even sleep there themselves, not just their cats, because of the five-star service.”
The spacious hotel offers services to a varied clientele, from the middle class to the rich, many of whom leave their cat in the couple's care while traveling. Others want to treat their cat to some luxury for the day, and let them play with other cats.
Ruba al-Nasser regularly entrusts the couple with the cat that she rescued from the street. She got to know Heba through a local Facebook group that cares for cats and rescues them, and praises the services provided and the kind and compassionate treatment the cats receive in the hotel.
“It reassures me to have a clean place for my cat and people with experience and skills in dealing with cats. I advise other cat owners to come to the hotel when needed,” she told Al-Monitor.
However, in light of the deteriorating economic conditions and high unemployment rate in Jordan, worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, some see the cat hotel as a luxury and exaggerated service.
Laith Daoud, a cat owner, believes that the idea of the hotel is unnecessary. He told Al-Monitor, “Cats have always lived on the streets, as long as we can remember. There is no need for a hotel.”
Lina al-Momani, who has been a cat owner for two years now, told Al-Monitor, “Cats need such places, but they may not suit the economic situation of many cat owners. I’d rather leave my cat with a family member or a close friend when needed.”
Lama al-Hammouri disagrees. “It is comfortable and reassuring to be able to leave my cat in a hotel designed to serve cats during my absence without the fear that anything will happen to it,” she told Al-Monitor.
Uday believes that whoever has a pet should be responsible for it and provide for its needs. “Mau’s clients — regardless of their financial situation — do not put their cats in the hotel for their entertainment, but rather to protect them during their absence from their homes, when they are not able to provide care for these animals.”
He noted, “Caring for cats is a social responsibility shared by everyone, regardless of their culture, status and lifestyle.”
Although one might think the name of the hotel is inspired by the sound that cats make, in fact, it was chosen in reference to the Arabian cat family, Mau, which dates back to the Egyptian civilization.
Heba and Uday seek to develop the hotel despite the financial difficulties. They are hoping to raise awareness in the community to take better care of pets, and they are working to allocate part of the hotel's income to animal rescue societies, and to ensure all cats’ needs.