Shahista, Karachi’s cat lady, won’t leave your furry friends alone

She runs a boarding for cats
Sep 07, 2021

If you’re a cat owner, you would know the anxiety and guilt one feels at the idea of leaving an animal alone. If it’s a party or a one-day trip, you can manage things around. But a family vacation or work travel always leaves one agitated. After all, how can you leave a beloved behind?

Shahista Rana, aka Karachi’s cat lady, has the purr-fect solution for you. The woman has been running a cat boarding, called Simba’s Pet Care, for the last two years and has been pretty successful at it.

“Cat boarding is exactly like babysitting. People traveling out of town, who can’t take their pets along with them, can leave their cats with me for a small fee,” Rana told SAMAA Digital.

The animals enjoy a number of services that include feeding, fondling and bathing.

Rana, who has been an animal lover all her life, owns 11 cats of her own. Her first pet, Simba, has been living with her for over 10 years. “People talk about their careers, jobs, and businesses with excitement. For me, my passion is animals,” she said with a glint in her eyes.

A push from friends and family encouraged Rana to start Simba’s Pet Care. But another major reason was the loss of one of her most beloved cats.

“This happened some four to five years back. I was shifting houses and had to leave my cat and her kittens with someone who claimed to be cat sitters,” she recalled. “Two months later when I went to their house to take my cats back, two of them had died while the remaining were in a terrible condition.”

Rana was devastated after the incident. But it also, in many ways, laid the foundation of her venture.

Simba’s Pet Care, located in Madras Colony, smells of boiled chicken and oozes warmth. Her lounge, which has now been turned into the cat boarding, is carpeted. One look at the walls of the room tells you how they have been specially designed for cats. Cozy baskets and cabinets are the only furniture in the boarding house, along with its guests.

The boarding can accommodate at least 15 animals at a time.

“When a cat is admitted to the boarding, we first keep it away from other animals to gauge its reaction,” she explains. “Not all animals are friendly. They, too, need their time and space to settle in.”

Once the animal feels comfortable, Rana starts befriending it, first by giving it treats and then offering unconditional love. “It’s a taxing job. I have to check on the animals every few hours. Feed them on time and play with them as well.”

Rana has an uncompromising disposition on the diet of the cats and therefore feeds them homemade food. “I prepare a diet plan for every cat. The ingredients of the food comprise vegetables, beans, chicken, rice, and even potatoes.”

This food is not just confined to the boarding cats; Rana sells it online as well. “A 150 grams box costs Rs250 and then the prices differ with the quantity and ingredients.”

If you’re getting some ideas of leaving your pet with Rana, wait. Here are some protocols by Simba’s Pet Care that need to be followed:

  • Owners have to submit a copy of their CNIC at the time of leaving the cat
  • Owners need to provide their residential address
  • The cats should be dewormed, vaccinated and litter-trained before it’s dropped off
  • A medical check-up of the animal is mandatory before it enters the boarding

“All these SOPs are extremely important because these animals don’t just share a space but also food and water. Even a small disease can prove fatal for them,” the woman said.

The cost of boarding depends on the animal and the number of days. The minimum amount charged in a day, however, starts from Rs500.

According to Rana, for now, the boarding only takes in cats, but she is planning on expanding it to dogs soon.

“Sometimes my friends and family members think I’m crazy,” she said. “They tell me I have sabotaged my social life for these animals. But I never see it this way.”

She said the animals are her babies and it never feels like making a compromise to take care of them. “It’s just a win-win situation for me,” Rana added.



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