Arab News

The Catwoman of Rabat

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Morocco © Maria Nelasova

October 01, 2017 15:17 EDT

The stray cats of Rabat are alone and hungry. This young woman is doing something about it.

Hajar Benallal is a modern-day hero. This young Moroccan woman takes care of some of the many street cats of Rabat. Each week, she feeds hundreds of cats.

Stray cats in the Moroccan capital usually hide behind trees or under cars, occasionally taking a peek as they look for something to eat. Being careful is part of daily life for a cat, especially on the streets of an urban city like Rabat. But when they see Hajar, their fear is gone.

Every day, Hajar travels around the city, carrying a big backpack filled with bags of cat food, spare bottles and a large container of water. The 30-year-old has dedicated her life to the wellbeing of street cats. For six years, Hajar has been doing her feeding tours around Rabat. Her love for cats began at an early age as she fed and looked after animals in her neighborhood before she slowly extended her mission.

Hajar has never stopped despite the many challenges she has faced. In the beginning, she received almost no support and had to pay for the expensive cat food out of her own pocket. The reaction from people on the street was often negative or even hostile, since many of them failed to appreciate her efforts. Instead, they saw stray cats as a plague, undeserving of any attention.

Till today, Hajar has only received limited support from her fellow citizens. Most of the help she gets is from abroad. Through her Facebook page, she receives donations from people in France, Belgium and Germany, most of whom she has never met. Not only does she use the money to feed around 400 cats a week, but she also gets some of them sterilized — in which she contributes to a long-term solution.

Despite the obstacles and difficulties she faces, Hajar has never stopped. Her compassion and determination are stronger than the fatigue and frustration. Her work makes her happy and sad at the same time. She is happy and grateful because she is making a change and has beautiful encounters with cats. But she always feels that she is not doing enough. In spite of Hajar’s strength and willpower, there are simply too many mouths to feed for just one catwoman in Rabat.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Maria Nelasova /

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