Saudi Arabia: Mama Moudy and How My Cats Won Her Over

Although my late Saudi husband and I left Saudi Arabia in March 2009, I still have so many fond memories that I enjoy sharing with American Bedu readers.

Mama Moudy is my dear Saudi mother-in-law.  She is both a traditional and conservative Saudi woman but also open in many ways.  In August 2008 she allowed me to interview her for this blog so that people would have a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and both its cultures and traditions during the period of her childhood.

max     Today I wish to share about Mama Moudy’s indoctrination to my cats.  When Abdullah and I first arrived in Saudi we came with my three cats:  Max, Tripod and Saheba.  Max was an all-black Persian which I acquired while in the United States.  Tripod and Saheba, on the other hand, were my “Pakibillis.”  Both of them were feral cats which I had rescued from the streets of Pakistan.  Tripod had been hit by a car and left to die.  Thankfully I found him and with emergency surgery, he survived albeit minus one leg.  Saheba was a scrawny little cat who appeared at my home in Islamabad and once I saw her, I could not let her go.  Tripod and Saheba were both born in Pakistan and have the traditional features of Asian cats.

cats nov 09

My cats have been around the world twice and wherever I went, they came too, to include Saudi Arabia.  Abdullah knew that when he asked me to marry him me and my cats were a package deal – non negotiable.

Now, not everyone in Saudi Arabia is enamored of cats.  In fact, a lot of Saudis actively dislike cats.  Saudi Arabia is plagued by thousands of feral street cats which are commonly referred to as Saudi street rats.  As a result, when Abdullah’s family was first exposed to my cats, they were not thrilled to say the least.  However, my cats eventually won almost everyone over, including Mama Moudy who became their champion.

tripod nc 1

The first few times Mama Moudy saw my cats she was naturally afraid.  Cats were believed to carry both germs and disease and people did not have them inside of their homes.  Over time and with observation, she noted that my cats were clean, healthy and disease free.  She also noticed how friendly they were and that they had their own distinctive personalities.

Mama Moudy lives in Makkah so when she came to Riyadh she’d usually come for an extended visit.  My husband and I both worked while we lived in Riyadh.  Mama Moudy started noticing that each afternoon my cats would suddenly become alert and scamper off to the front door of our house.  She realized that the cats were attuned to when I came in from work and were always at the door to meet me.

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Her bedroom was located at the end of the hallway from the master bedroom.  Mama Moudy was the earliest riser in the house.  Next she discovered that each morning my cats would be sitting in front of my closed bedroom door waiting for me to get up each morning.  It was at that point she told my husband in Arabic, “Those cats know her and love her.”

After continually seeing how loving and non-threatening my cats were around people, Mama Moudy began to lose her own fear of cats.  She started hesitantly at first touching and then petting my cats.  Eventually it was okay for them to sit beside her and she would pet them.  Finally though and to my chagrin, Mama Moudy started feeding them food from the table while we were eating lunch or dinner.  When I dared to bring up the subject and request that they be left to their cat food, Mama Moudy candidly let me know that my cats were creatures too and deserved to enjoy the good food.  My husband told me to drop the subject and let his mom enjoy her pleasure of spoiling my cats.

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I’m proud of my cats for winning over Mama Moudy.  She also became their champion.  When anyone attempted to hint that it was not appropriate to have a bissa (cat in Arabic) inside of a Saudi home, Mama Moudy would say with pride, “but these bissas are American, they’re not Saudi street rats.”

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9 Responses

  1. Love this story 🙂

  2. Oh, I have tears! Cats and horses, did God make any better creatures??

  3. Don’t you just love it when people connect on the basic level without any of the hindrances…

    Very touchy feely story if you pardon the pun;)

  4. Thank you, Shannon!

    On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM, American Bedu

  5. I agree, Kat. In fact, my two grandsons (ages 2 and 4) have already started riding and they LOVE horses!

    On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 4:12 PM, American Bedu

  6. Amen, Ibrahim.

    On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 4:45 PM, American Bedu

  7. Sweet story, Carol!
    My husband’s families in Sudan and Saudi were amazed that I carried pictures of my cat how when I met my husband a condition of getting together would be whether or not my cat liked him. The Sudan family were especially surprised to learn the cat had his own ‘doctor’. Anyway they all realized how the cat was part of our family and from that point on queries about how the cat was doing was always included in phone calls and visits. I often found a feral cat or two asleep in the Sudan house and my MIL would just smile and say she didn’t notice it come in. 🙂

  8. That’s beautiful Wendy!!

    On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 1:01 PM, American Bedu

  9. […] from prayer, the only thing I can think to do is write. A few weeks ago, Carol shared a blog post on American Bedu about how her Saudi mother-in-law came to love Carol’s beloved cats, Max, Tripod, and Saheba. […]

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