At that time, we were living in such a ghetto area in Dubai. Money was short, and we ended up in the outskirts of the city.
We saw the place that we were renting, at night, thinking that it wasn't that bad, but we regretted it soon in the morning.
I always try to find the positive side of all the negative experiences, but there wasn't anything positive about living there. Except for Berlin, the cat I picked up from that place, he became almost a symbol for me and my husband. A light in the darkness, something to make us laugh and give us comfort during such a time.
I was always a dog person. I've had dogs for my whole life. The only cats that lived at my house were outdoor cats. Generation after generation, they would become colder and colder, to the point that they won't even let you pet them anymore.
When I first lived in Dubai, I noticed the number of stray cats was unbelievable. Hundreds and hundreds of colonies in every corner of the city.
Right across our house, I spotted a colony of strays and a few food and water bowls that some volunteers would periodically bring for them.
It was August and 45 C in Dubai, every day around 2 pm I was leaving the house to go to work, and a couple of strays was waiting for me just right outside the door, meowing for food and attention.
I researched online and found out that their breed was the -Arabian Mau-, a 1000 years old, natural desert breed, and to add to the interesting facts, the fastest cat breed in the world!
I immediately got fascinated by their chatty personality and muscular body structure.
After about a month of these two cats visiting me, one of them stopped coming, and so I panicked. I started pleading and begging my husband to take the other cat. We named him -Berlin- after one of my hubby's songs, and from that moment, he became our baby for the years to come.
This cat showed us a funny personality right from the start. Always very different from other cats I've ever had, and particularly smart.
To my surprise, he trusted me since day one. On the same day I rescued him, he let me pick him up, take him to the vet, bathe him, and trim his nails. Pretty odd for a stray cat, so I wondered if he belonged to someone until the vet confirmed he was a stray.
He could tell that by his tipped ear. Volunteers would spay and neuter stray cats to contain the population, and the only way to know if a cat had the procedure already done, was to tip their ear.
The first few nights we brought him in, he didn't let us go to sleep. He would meow the whole night through. We were living in a studio, so there was no way to send him to another room. We just had to endure.
He spent the first couple of days hiding behind the washing machine, and I wondered what must have gone through his mind at that time. After a few months in, his coat started to grow more and be shiny, his eyes were brighter and happier, and he gained weight.
Before we decided to get him a brother cat, he used to attack me to play. It would mostly happen while recording my Youtube videos, which became viral also because of it. He would attack my head, make weird sounds, and do what I call the -rabbit moves -, kicking his back legs against my arm, looking hilarious.
He would suddenly start attacking me to get my attention when I was busy doing something else. Being used to the wildlife, he would not realize his 8 kg weight, sharp claws and fangs, and so, consequently, the pain that he would inflict on me, every time.
We realized that he was behaving like this because he needed another cat to play with, and that's who I was for him: a fat play buddy.
When we finally moved houses, we managed to adopt another cat named -Bacardi- and that's another story!
Berlin's journey to becoming a cat-influencer debuted. It became viral when a few companies approached us to share his content, which also featured on Yahoo News and Daily Motion.
The time came for us to move back to Europe, where I opened a Tik Tok channel, just for fun. I started featuring Berlin on it because of his chatty personality, which is also a trait of his breed.
Every time I would talk to him, he would reply and with a different sound.
The first video I published went viral and reached 100.000 views. I was quite shocked but pleased that Berlin had not only conquered my heart but the heart of thousands of people around the world.
Everything was quite casual, and I was filming him because I thought he was funny, and video after video, he stole the heart of so many.
My singing videos were nothing compared to the success my cat was having. Go ahead, Berlin. Take all the spotlight!
A simple video of us hugging reached over 1.5 million views. When I spoke to him, he would always reply. He would stay still while I hug him, and so thousand's of hearts were melting.
I think others see Berlin's smart traits as a unique feature, and they keep wanting more. I can honestly say that he is the smartest pet I've ever had.
Cats cannot usually be trained easily, but he understands everything that we mean, and his chatty personality makes him sound like he wants to talk to us even if he cannot pronounce any word. Sometimes he would wander around the house and start meowing for attention or just to have a conversation.
Rescuing this cat turned out to be one of the best things I've done in my life, not for the views or the fame but because I love him to pieces.
He brings me joy every day, and he has been keeping us company during the hardest, and loneliest moments of our lives. If I had to go back and live in that place just to meet Berlin, I would do it a thousand times again.