After a brush with death, a mama cat writes a letter to all human moms.
Text and photos by Stef dela Cruz, MD
Dearest Human Moms,
Happy Mothers’ Day!
Technically, it’s my day, too. After all, I’m a mother to two kittens. I may not be human but just like all of you moms out there, I love my kids with all my heart. As a mom, you know it’s natural to worry about your children. You know how it feels to think about what would happen to them if something happened to you. A chilling thought, I know, but it was what crossed my mind during what I thought were the last few hours of my cat life. I was about to die, my body severely dehydrated and my muscles atrophied from hunger, but all I could think of was my kittens. If I died, would they die, too?
What It Means to be a Mom
Sorry—I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Sitti and I’m a mom to two rowdy kittens, Chun Li and Cammy. Because they were so feisty, my kittens were named after two characters in a game called Street Fighter. It has barely been a couple of months since I was face-to-face with death. To be honest, I still get nightmares and I dread the thought that it might happen again.
But let me start from the beginning. If I do, you might understand better how it feels to be in my paws. How it is to be a mom who meows instead of talks. How it is to be a mom who walks on all fours instead of on just two legs. Perhaps, if I told you my story, you might understand better what it means to be a cat celebrating Mother’s Day.
Never Losing Hope
I was extremely hungry, not to mention thirsty. Oh, what I would do to drink just a drop. After all, it had been almost fourteen days since my last sip of water. It had been too long. My muscles had atrophied and my bones were starting to show. You see, I got locked in a storeroom. It was a small, dark, empty room with no windows. The real problem is that there was no food or water, either. But that wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. What made everything so much worse was that my two six-week-old kittens were stuck in there with me.
Yes, I know, it didn’t look good. I was dying and if we stayed trapped in that room, my kids would die, too. However, I had something to be thankful for. Because my kittens were still breastfeeding, they were much healthier than I was. My breastmilk provided them sustenance even if it meant my body was slowly starving to death. I didn’t want to lose hope. No, losing hope would not be good at all because it would mean giving up on my children. Losing hope was out of the question.
That was why I would meow whenever I heard footsteps. I would meow as loudly as I could, hoping someone would rescue me! “Meow! Help us! My kids are in here with me! Please!” A day passed without anyone helping us. Then, two days passed. Then, three. Soon enough, an entire week had gone by and still nobody was there to open the door for us. After two weeks in the dark without any food and water, I was getting weaker and I was afraid that my breastmilk might run out. I started feeling desperate. My throat was parched and my meows weren’t as strong as they used to be. My pleas of help remained unheard.
One day, I heard another human passing by. Unlike other humans, she smelled of… yuck, cats! I hated other cats—they either wanted to get me pregnant or steal my food.But even in my thirst-addled state, I had an epiphany: If she smelled of cats, could it be that it was because she cared for them? Suddenly, I felt energized. Mustering the last of my strength, I meowed as loudly as I could. “Meow, MEOW!!!” I meowed so loudly that the entire floor echoed with my voice!“Save my kids, if not me!” I screamed out. After that, I couldn’t meow anymore. I was too weak. I tried my best. I gave it my all. I wondered, was it enough?
Never giving up, I heard human voices. Someone on the other side of the door was saying, “I’m not leaving here until you open this door!” It was all I wanted to hear. I was right not to give up on my kids. I was right not to give up on humans. Of course, I wouldn’t trust all humans. I mean, I’m not stupid. After all, one of the workers breaking down the door said, “Patay na yan (It’s already dead)!” The other worker was more deprated – he wanted to call the whole thing off, saying, “Daga yan, hindi pusa (It’s a rat, not a cat).” I wanted to cry. Why didn’t they want us found and rescued? What had I and my kids ever done to them? I didn’t give up on humans. Would the cat-smelling hooman give up on us? I held what meager breath I had left in me until she said in that loud, booming voice of hers, “No, it’s a cat. Open the door if you know what’s good for you.”
A Second Shot at Life
It took almost two hours for them to break down the door. When they finally did, I saw the funny-smelling human for the first time. My instincts kicked in. I felt the need to flee. What if she meant to harm me? I hissed and tried to fight but I was too weak. She cooed gently and tried to reassure me. She stroked my forehead. I decided not to resist.
I let her carry me in her arms. My kids, on the other hand, did not want to give in without a fight. They spat, hissed, and jumped to bite her! She would not be deterred. She spent a long time running after my kittens, covering them with a soft cloth so that they didn’t feel scared. She then brought us to a place that carried the smell of a hundred cats and dogs. While we were there, something cold went up my butt! Something sharp went into my arm! A cool liquid started flowing into my veins. For some reason, I no longer felt as thirsty.They kept me and my kids in a cage. I wanted to escape but I saw the feline-smelling human once again. She reassured me that my kitties and I would be okay.
Then, they offered us food. Food! It felt too good to be true. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. But I didn’t. My kittens and I were rescued on time. Yes, we were going to survive. Looking for a furever-home I still couldn’t believe all that happened just two months ago. I still couldn’t believe my luck. If that human had decided against checking her mailbox, she wouldn’t have heard my last meow! The human who rescued us happens to be a columnist for Animal Scene so she gave me a special Mothers’ Day gift: a chance to tell my story! But you know what would be a much better gift than the one she gave me? A furever-home, of course!
The human who rescued us is fostering us until someone adopts us. My kids and I are happy with her but I know it’s not a permanent thing because she already has a big fur-family. I would therefore want nothing more than for me and my kids to stay with a human family until it’s time for us to cross the rainbow bridge to the afterlife.
Two months ago, I spent two weeks hoping that a human would open a door for us so that we could survive. Now, I’m hoping that a human will open his or her door to us so that we can live. We want nothing more than a human family to love. I hope you can make this Mothers’ Day one that I will never forget. If you have space in your heart and in your home, email my rescuer-slash-foster-mom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You don’t even have to adopt me. You can adopt my kittens—that’s more than enough for me!You and I are not that different, you see. You may not have fur and you may not have a tail, but if you’re also a mom, then you want nothing more than what’s best for your kids. Like me, you’re a mom with a great story to tell, one of love and hope. Last but not the least, you’re also a survivor.
Hoping to be part of your family soon,
Sitti the Mama Cat
About the human: Stef dela Cruz, M.D. is a columnist and blogger. She was conferred the 2013 Health Media Recognition by the Department of Health. She is now the proud human of two cats and a dog whom she treats not as pets, but as family. Connect with her on www.stefdelacruz.com or via Twitter & Instagram (@StefdelaCruzMD).
This appeared as “Dearest Human Moms” in Animal Scene’s May 2016 issue.