A couple who planned their dream wedding on a paradise beach have CANCELLED their nuptials – after becoming besotted with a homeless cat on the streets of Abu Dhabi .
The cat lovers met and fell for the feline on a trip to Abu Dhabi and decided together to dip into their wedding fund to bring Sheikh, as they named him, back home to Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Because of the costs involved, they have cancelled their wedding plans, but they say they would do it again.
Animal lover Nicolla, 35, who works as an educational officer, and her fiancé Karl, a teacher, couldn’t bear to leave the injured and dehydrated kitten when they first saw it wandering alone on a beach in the United Arab Emirates.
The couple contacted animal charities in Abu Dhabi to ask them to take the animal in, but when none of them could help the pair decided to adopt the kitten and bring it home with them.
Nicolla said: “We have been planning our wedding since December last year, but we have had to cancel because we have spent so much money bringing Sheikh to the UK.
“I bought my dream wedding dress and we booked the ceremony on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, but we have had to cancel the whole thing.
“At first we cancelled the wedding band and my bouquet, but after a while the costs just kept on adding up and we soon realised that we were going to have to cancel the whole thing.
“We were going to get married on our own then have a big party for friends and family in the UK but we have cancelled that too. We have spent a good chunk of our wedding budget adopting Sheikh, but he is worth every penny.
“As soon as we saw Sheikh we fell in love. We were on holiday in Abu Dhabi and were just walking along the beach and I could see this creature. He was quite lanky, so I didn’t realise it was a cat at first.
“We stopped to feed him and realised he was badly dehydrated. His eyes were so dry that he couldn’t see the food we put in front of him. We thought he was blind.
“All the other stray cats were quite fat, and they were all sitting in the shade, but Sheikh was malnourished and he was out in the sun. It was as though he didn’t know what to do with himself, he needed looking after.
“We were desperately trying not to get attached, but when we left him to go sunbathing I couldn’t take my mind off him.”
“The next day we saw him again and realised his flea bites were infected. We carried on feeding him, and eventually we decided to contact some local charities to see if they would take him in, but none of them could help.”
The couple decided to look into adopting the flea-bitten stray, and footed the bill for Sheikh’s veterinary care.
Nicolla said: “Sheikh needed flea treatment, deworming, a rabies vaccination and lots of other medication to get him back on track. We couldn’t wait to see him nursed back to full health, and when he arrived in the UK we were over the moon.
“We have four other rescue cats and Sheikh took a while to settle in. He is the baby of the family.
“People think we are mad for cancelling our dream wedding to adopt a stray from abroad, but we can get married any time. It’s not every day you meet a cat like Sheikh.”