To the felines in my neighborhood, it seems the word is out: My home is a 24/7 emergency room and shelter. Ever since we moved in a year ago, one cat after another has dropped by our second-floor apartment to ask for food or wound care!
I wrote about several felines who demanded assistance just a few issues back: one who was pregnant, another who seemed bored, and yet another who was injured. While I felt like my hands were tied when it came to the first two because they already had a human, I did get to foster the third — and he was adopted into a Forbes Park home, no less!
It wasn’t the last time that I, together with my boyfriend, fostered a cat. Maybe one of them somehow told every other cat they met about it because yesterday, yet another feline found our apartment and started “knocking” on our door.
The dog was barking nonstop. He stayed at the door, sniffing at the gap under it as he barked with gusto. When I opened the door, there was a kitten meowing at me and asking to be let in!
I bet she would have knocked if she could. In a manner of speaking, she already did.
My boyfriend and I gave her food and water. She continued to meow even as she chewed, making funny nom-nom-nom sounds as she hungrily gobbled up her food. She would probably strike a conversation as she ate if she could, just to keep us there with her.
Luckily, it was only a few months ago when we last fostered another kitten and the makeshift home I used was still set up. I brought out food and water bowls and a litter box. I used cardboard and a folded blanket to insulate her temporary home, just in case it got cold in the night and our young feline visitor needed a place to stay.
Come nighttime, she used the litter box, ate her food, and slept like the baby that she was.
I dubbed her Allura after the princess in the animated series Voltron because her potential purrent shared the name of one of the five Voltron paladins.
First Time to Care for a Cat? Don’t Fret!
Cats can be rather self-sufficient. Most of them know how to use a litter box (or require very little help at first).
Many resources for first-time cat parents are available online to help you out. You can also ask other cat parents any questions you have about having a cat in your home, or join cat groups on Facebook, such as Cat Care Philippines — I’m sure other cat people will be happy to assist you!
A Cat Chooses You! What Now?
Allura’s story is proof that we don’t “own” cats: Many of them choose us, instead of the other way around!
If a feline wants you to be their human and you know zilch about them, there’s no need to panic. Here are a few things to remember.
1.DO keep the cat (and yourself) safe
A cat may bite or scratch if threatened or overstimulated — it’s not their fault; they are just being their feline selves!
To ensure that both you and the cat stay safe, handle them with care. If unsure whether a cat is friendly or not, cover their head with a towel as this calms them down and prevents them from biting, according to The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) website.
2.DON’T just leave (without at least doing these)
Take photos of the cat and the area where you found them. Take photos of street signs, nearby establishments, or landmarks.
Even when you’re in a rush, you can ask vendors or locals to watch the cat while you get help, according to PAWS. Get their cellphone numbers to keep track of the cat. If you contact rescuers, make sure you’re at the scene at the time of the rescue.
3.DON’T expect random Facebook friends (or rescue orgs) to always help
No, those photos you took are not for asking random help online. It may take time for a concerned animal lover to respond to your status update on Facebook, if at all!Seeking help directly from people or organizations that rescue animals may be better (you can find the numbers of PAWS and other animal welfare orgs at one of the back pages of this issue), but they may already be undermanned and overwhelmed. If you could spare a couple of hours to bring the cat to a vet before you headed off to work, that would be awesome!
4.DO take responsibility for cats you rescue
Don’t expect animal organizations, such as PAWS, to take in the cats you minister to — it’s not hard to imagine that they may already be at full capacity.
Providing shelter for a cat can be as simple as providing food and water. If you want to keep the cat in your home, buy litter and a litter box as well. Try to cat-proof your home while you’re at it by making sure the cat doesn’t escape while you’re away.
5.DO adopt (or find an adoptive parent)
If a cat chooses you, they must have done so for a good reason! If you’ve never had a furry companion in your life, don’t panic — it’s not as complicated as you might think.
Be warned: Cats are adorable and they can very much steal your heart. I used to be a dog person until a black feline came into a life and convinced me that I had enough space for a cat… plus two more!
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s September 2018 issue.