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Photo by Emily Broad

Photo Essay: Cats on Campus

Get to know NYUAD’s biggest feline celebrities.

Feb 16, 2019

Many NYU Abu Dhabi students have a loving relationship with the campus cats. Although they have sparked controversy in the past, they are a unique aspect of the community. In the last semester the campus’ population of cats has increased. Because of this, faculty, researchers and students organized a campus cat welfare group to help them receive necessary vaccines. In 2017, two cats were found trapped on the ledge of an NYUAD building 15 meters off the ground until they were rescued by volunteers and animal welfare officials.
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Recently Mareya Khouri and Yuki Chiu, Class 2022, started the Campus Cats Instagram page to post photos captured by students on campus.
The UAE is supportive of its stray cat population. An appreciation for felines is found in Islamic culture and revered hadiths. A popular Islamic legend states that a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Abu Hurairah, owned a cat that saved him from a snake. To show his gratitude, Muhammad blessed cats with the righting reflex, or the ability to orient position while falling. The stripes on cats’ heads are said to come from the touch of the Prophet.
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Pretzel – pictured below – was hit by a car in front of campus this year. Class of 2019 student Hannah Melville-Rea organized a fund and system to help Pretzel get to the vet and receive treatment.
“I only realized how much people care about the campus cats when one of them was hit by a car and badly injured. I was blown away when I had over 60 people contact to me to help finance her vet bills,” Melville-Rea said in response to the accident.
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Streetcat is NYUAD’s only indoor cat. Living in the Engineering Design Studio, she comforts engineers and other students spending late nights in A5. She can be found in the atrium on sunny days or walking around the pathway outside the building. She is the EDS’ mascot and students have designed various merchandise representing Streetcat, including 3D prints, stickers and T-shirts.
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These two cats are the other older campus cats. In a Student Government poll from last year, the students agreed that the orange one was named Pumpkin and the gray one Charlie Catlin. They have been on campus longer than others, claiming their territory outside Campus East Dining Hall.
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These cats are newcomers to campus this year. The white cat arrived around November and the light brown one close to finals. They soon became companions and are commonly seen play-fighting with each other outside Residential Building A5B.
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Living outside the A2 Residential College, this cat is very popular among Class of 2022 students. She has a lookalike somewhere on campus, and is the subject of many Instagram posts.
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The best way to help stray cats on campus who haven’t had their ears clipped is by contacting Mia Johnston or Mayada Oudah on Facebook. To help stray cats in the city who appear to be sick, the best approach is the trap, neuter, and return strategy.
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Emily Broad is Photography Editor. Email her at
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