Maryam al-Balushi lives in a private home in Muscat, the capital of Oman. Most of her 492 pets were abandoned by their former owners or previously lived on the street.
In 2008, Maryam’s son first brought a kitten to the house, which the woman reluctantly began to look after herself. Two years later, she started looking after another cat and found herself enjoying it. Rumors about a new animal guardian spread among local expats—migrating from the country, they began to leave their pets at her doorstep. Soon the shelters began to send their wards to Marya. The woman, orphaned at an early age, says that at some point it was animals that helped her to cope with depression.
Al-Balushi spends about $7,800 monthly on animals, seventeen of which are blind. This money goes to food, grooming, and veterinary services. The good deeds of Maryam are supported by her followers on Instagram. Animal advocates in Oman note that the number of abandoned pets in the country has increased exponentially over the past few years. The penalty for abandoning a pet is $25.