Far from war, Basra's cats lap it up in their own hotel

BASRA, Iraq, March 29 (Reuters) - A world away from Iraq's battlegrounds, Basra's cat-lovers have found a haven for their favorite pets.

Veterinary student Ahmed Taher Maki has turned his home in the southern city into what he believes is Iraq's first cat hotel.

For as little as 5,000 Iraqi dinars ($4.20) a night - or half that for long stays - the guests can enjoy beds, regular meals, health checkups and a mini playground, all under the cooling purr of an air conditioner.

See inside the hotel: 

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Iraq's first cat hotel
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Iraq's first cat hotel
Cats are seen in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A cat is seen at a room in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
Cats are seen in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student play with cats in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student puts clothes on a cat in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student plays with a cat in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student plays with a cat in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student feeds cats in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student plays with cats in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
Cats are seen at a room in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
A veterinary medicine student carries a cat in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
Cats are seen at a room in a cat hotel in Basra, Iraq, March 13, 2018. Picture taken March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
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Maki said he was hoping to encourage more people to adopt cats in the city and give them a place to leave their pets when they are away on a trip.

Taking care of animals gives people a "merciful heart," he said. "The hotel is a noble thing and unprecedented in the south of Iraq and Basra in particular." ($1 = 1,186.4300 Iraqi dinars) (Writing by Andrew Heavens Editing by Peter Graff)

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