World

The cat lady of Myanmar

Woman runs shelter for cats, dogs, abandoned at pagodas

More than 200 stray and sick cats are looked after in this safe haven in Thanlyin Township's Kunchangon village, 32km from the commercial capital of Yangon, Myanmar.

The shelter was set up October and had about 50 abandoned cats from Sule, Kyaik Waing and other pagodas across Yangon, reported news website The Irrawaddy.

But just four months later, the number of cats has ballooned to about 230.

It is also home to four stray dogs.

These animals were abandoned by their owners at pagodas in and around Yangon, said Ms Aye Aye Maw, who runs the shelter.

She said she took these cats in because she felt sorry for them.

"People tend to abandon them if they get sick or something happens to them. Some cats are bitten by dogs.

"There are also cruel people who sell cats to liquor shops as an appetiser (to go along with their liquor).

"This motivated me to talk with a sister in Japan about this and set up the shelter," she said.

Ms Aye said that before she set up the shelter, she used to feed the abandoned cats and dogs found wandering around pagodas.

SAD

But more often than not, she would end up arguing with those who dislike these animals.

"But I feel sad at the sight of cats in trouble," she said.

"Because it wasn't convenient for me to bring them home, I decided to open this shelter."

Ms Aye, who lives in Yangon, is at the shelter by 7am every day to feed the animals.

"We humans feel hungry as soon as we get up, don't we? So cats will feel hungry, too. But they're lucky, because once their feed runs out, donors always come," she said, laughing.

She feeds them again at noon and then at 5pm before returning home for the day.

She has even hired a watchman to take care of the cats at night.

On Tuesdays, doctors from volunteer medical groups drop by and give the cats a check-up.

Ms Aye said she keeps the sick cats in separate cages and treats the injured ones herself.

In recent years, the number of shelters has been on the rise in Yangon and elsewhere in Myanmar.

Ms Aye said that she is in this for the long haul.

"I'll save and take care of these animals till my last breath. That's my goal," she said.

MyanmaranimalsUncategorisedAbandonedAye Aye Maw