Helping Stray Cats Abroad and at Floyd Felines


Helen Vanderselt is a cat rescuer for the Abqaiq Kennel Club in Saudi Arabia. She saw how many stray cats there were and how no one was doing anything about them.

If I felt that strongly I needed to do something myself, and so my quest started,” she said. 

Vanderselt found organizations that were willing to help her with her adoptions.

“I was able to get the local vets, Advance Pet Care (APC), in Khobar to give me a street cat account,” she said. “This gives me 50% of the cost of neutering and a 20% discount over medical care.”

Vanderselt does two types of rescues. She rescues orphan and abandoned cats around the Aramco compound, and she does TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) for the Abqaiq resident camp cats.

“TNR is the most humane and ethical solution to the crisis that the Middle East and other countries across the world are experiencing with the increase in the stray cat population,” Vanderselt said.

The first thing she does when she rescues a cat is assess how the cat reacts to human contact. If a cat or kitten needs time to adapt, they will be separated from the rest of the cats until it feels comfortable.

“Cats will react differently, but most come round to human contact quite quickly,” she said. “The cats have access to a main sleeping area with cat trees and toys and a further main room, so this gives them space to run and play. They will be medically looked after and their daily needs of food and water catered for.”

The cats she rescues are sent to Canada as there are not enough rescue centers in Saudi Arabia to house them. The cats fly via Qatar to Seattle and then drive over the border to Vancouver, where Vanderselt partners with Catoro Cat Café to house the cats until they find their forever home. According to Vanderselt, “this process can be as short as three months or as long as six months.”

Vanderselt shared the story of a cat named Sid. He was born on the streets and run over by a car. He got away with only a few cuts, but as she was planning on releasing him, she found it harder to let him go. Sid got along with another cat, Benji, and it was then she made the decision that “he had booked himself a ticket to Canada.” 

Sid’s foster parents at Catoro fell in love with him, and they got in contact with Vanderselt about how he cuddled them and purred loudly when they would rock him in his arms.

“This is a cat that didn’t know how to play with a toy and had never known human kindness, and yet he loved it all,” shared Vanderselt. “It’s stories like this that make the job of rescuing worth it. From a street life to a forever life. Nothing beats the feeling of giving a cat a second chance.”

There are opportunities at Darlington to help stray cats, as well. Senior Ndiana Akpan has worked with Floyd Felines to help take care of cats. According to Akpan, Floyd Felines works to “rescue cats and nurture them until they are ready for adoption,” providing them with the medical attention they need. After Dean of Students for Global Education Tara Inman sent out information about the organization, Akpan decided to sign up.

“I have never had much experience with pets, and I’ve always wanted a cat, so I thought it would be a good idea to both get used to being around cats and to help care for them and raise awareness of the cats for adoption,” Akpan said. “It’s a really fun experience, and you learn more about the pet adoption process and the medical needs of cats.”