When Carri-Anne Jane moved to Dubai for a six month internship she never imagined that she would fall in love with a gentle natured cat and begin a journey and struggle to take her newly found best friend home to Noordhoek, Cape Town.

Carri-Anne first crossed paths with a sweet little cat in October 2017 in the streets of Dubai. When she first tried to feed him he was more interested in affection then eating, despite living on the streets. After finally accepting the food the cat become attached and would run up to meet Jane with cheerful high pitched meows.

At that point she realised that there was no way she would be able to leave his soul behind. And she knew she would spend the rest of her life wondering about that tiny cat alone in the streets of Dubai.

Carri-Anne told her husband, Ray Leathern, about the stray cat and wanting to take her home and he was instantly onboard. First they needed to make sure he wasn’t lost and belonged to someone else and if he was in good health.

Off they went to the vet, the visit revealed that the little furry friend was under weight and had no microchip. After checking all the vets and posting on local Facebook groups to see if anyone was looking for their new found friend, the search for his family ended.

They named him Braveheart because of his little heart shaped furry spot and his trusting nature. Braveheart become a permanent member of his new family.

Then began the difficult part, Carri-Anne started to look into what it would cost to bring Braveheart back to Cape Town. The first quotes she received was R44 000, she thought, “is he flying back in first class? That moment, however, cemented what he meant to me, I was devastated as R44 000 was simply not in our budget and I couldn’t leave him behind.”
 
After an emotional week, she began thinking outside the box.
 
She figured out a few key bits of information, cats don’t need the expensive blood tests and quarantine when traveling from United Arab Emirates to South Africa. And, animals could only be brought into South Africa as manifest cargo which is not cheap. Cats need a rabies vaccine and a few others at least 31 days before they depart.
 
“My departure date from Dubai was 3 March 2018 so that would be his too.”
 
Through the Facebook grapevine Jane got in contact with a family in South Africa who had imported two street kittens before. With help from this family they were able to get documents, information and help from other organisations in Dubai to bring Braveheart home.
 

 
 
Jane started a crowd funding campaign to raise the money needed for Braveheart journey and the little kitty got his very own Instagram page where his campaign was posted.
 
People started donating. People they knew, others they didn’t, friends of friends and instagram followers.
The first donation was an anonymous R5 000.
 
In mid-January Ray sold his mountain bike to help reach the minimum target. The campaign continued until 28 February 2018 at which point they had collected just under R20 000. Braveheart flew to his new home on 1 March, followed by Carri-Anne Jane on the 3rd.
 

Thanks to the kindness of friends, family and good people, Braveheart doesn’t have to live on the streets anymore and now has a place to call home.

Her message to pet owners is clear: “Firstly, please adopt don’t shop for pets. I understand that some people want the exotic breed of cat or dog but there are so many animals who need a home. The amount of exotic breed cats and dogs in shelters is scary, look there first before buying.
 
“Secondly, a pet is a forever commitment. If you are planning to relocate or make massive changes in your life consider whether a pet would be a practical addition during this time. And please, for the love of all that is good and sacred never, ever give a pet as a gift, they are not toys.”
 
You can follow @braveheart_mau on Instagram.

  Pictures: Carri-Anne Jane and Ray Leathern

Article written by

Aimee Pace

Aimee is an avid gamer, enthusiastic yogi and animal lover. Addicted to anime, coffee and plant-based meals. Current favourite pastimes include, sewing and learning Japanese.