LEADING members of a Bahrain cat society say they are determined to fight claims that the kingdom's iconic felines are part of the Arabian Mau breed.
Extending its congratulations to the government of the UAE on a 'first for the region', since no other GCC breed has been thus recognised, the Dubai based Middle East Cat Society (MECATS) went on to say that it is seeking to find a suitable haven for the cats so they will not be further affected by the large-scale development throughout the region.
This sentiment was welcomed by the Cat Society of Bahrain and Pet Animals (CSBPA) until members read the MECATS statement that the Arabian Mau is known in Kuwait under the name 'Dilmun cat, from the Dilmun Dynasty', and its existence has been confirmed throughout Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
MECATS added: 'All of them are now under the name Arabian Mau, WCF registered. FIFE, CFA and other partners are informed.'
This news enraged members of the CSBPA, the region's oldest cat society, which was founded in 1997 and officially recognised by the Bahraini government in 2001 with the aim of categorising and protecting the Delmun cats, spelt differently to the ancient Dilmun civilisation (3200-2200 BC) linked to Bahrain.
Society vice president Hana Kanoo said: "I congratulate the UAE on the registration of the Arabian Mau, but this is very definitely not the same as the Delmun cat and we will not accept it."
In 2006, at the request of the CSBPA, the Delmun was officially recognised by Ministerial Decree as a Bahraini national breed.
Ms Kanoo explained: "Back in 1997 we contacted the FIFE (Luxembourg-based Federation Internationale Feline) to find out what we needed to do to get the Delmun internationally registered. We were told we needed to go away and observe the breed and carry out surveys to establish a breed standard.
"For 11 years we have worked at that. We have measured hundreds of Delmuns from nose to tail and across the shoulders and we came up with a standard which is unique to our breed.
"Delmuns are the tallest breed in the world, they have long legs and a unique, almost triangular, wedge-shaped face with big ears which turn outwards towards the side of the head.
"And the Bahrain Delmun is the only cat to have webbed feet, they are very different to other cats in the neighbouring countries, so much so that I have been contacted by people from major research universities in the UK wanting to come and study them as they are genetically quite different to anywhere-else.
"We have even gone so far as to have the Delmun DNA tested in the US. The results are expected in about three weeks and at that time we would have been ready to apply for our own registration and then we hear about this.
"It's simply not on, we won't accept it."
Society president Mohamed Al Sisi added: "I am confused at how this can happen without anyone contacting us - they have no right at all to say that the Bahraini Delmun is the same as every other Arabian cat. This is clearly not true and if anyone had got in touch with us we would have presented them with our data showing that the Delmun is a breed unique to this island.
"We will be protesting this registration as strongly as possible and we have all these years of research to show it."
Now Ms Kanoo has written to the World Cat Federation asking it to exclude the Delmun from its classification of the Arabian Mau.
Petra Mueller, president of MECATS said: "With regards to the Bahrain Cat Association, we want to work with them to organise an International Cat Show in Bahrain (Though CSBPA has already held two). We are also in touch with various international breeders who would like to have the Arabian Mau cats. We would be glad to send some good ones from Bahrain to them."
But Ms Kanoo said: "This is never going to happen! I will never accept the Arabian Mau umbrella classification and it isn't fair that the WCF never sought our approval."
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