Gathering at Shelters. Searching for Homes.

SPCA CollageThis collage symbolizes the enormous pet overpopulation problem, particularly with cats. These are only six out of the thousands of cats gathering and accumulating at animal shelters across the country. BC SPCA alone takes in more than 28,000 animals each year, in additional to thousands more being cared for by other rescue groups and animal control agencies.

To curb overpopulation and ensure that all cats have happy homes to go to rather than dwelling in cold, metallic cages or even being put down, ensure that your pet cat is spayed or neutered. Some municipalities have even started to provide funds to complete the procedure for low-income residents.

Featured in this collage (clockwise from top left) is:

  • Mal (5 mo. old female, at the Kamloops, BC shelter)
  • Socks (11 wk. old female, at the Okanagan/Similkameen, BC shelter)
  • Taco (2 yr. old male, at the Chilliwack, BC shelter)
  • Blitzen (1 yr. old male, at the Kamloops, BC shelter)
  • Kat (5 yr. old female, at the Vancouver, BC shelter)
  • Clark (1 yr. old male, at the Cowichan & District, BC shelter)

Be sure to make the SPCA “your first adoption option” (© 2015 BC SPCA).

In response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering.


On Baths and Mindful Pet Ownership

Adoring a pet cat does not always equate to being mindful about both her physical and psychological well-being. Doing the former is a lot easier than the latter. That’s because mindfulness involves realizing that you’re living with a member from another species, and that by agreeing to adopt a cat, whether it be from the pet store, rescue, or animal shelter, you have also agreed to live with that cat’s unchangeable feline nature.

Some individuals wrongfully, or perhaps ignorantly as happens in the absence of mindfulness, expect a cat to be like a (well-behaved) human toddler. To always listen, to contentedly be picked up without warning, to be taught manners like not jumping onto the table or counters or couches, to naturally understand that fingers are not to be bitten, to not protest when a particular rule or routine changes once in a while, to be okay with regular bathing.

Pet owners who have responsibly taken the initiative to read about cat care-giving, rather than acting upon their human whims and expectations, would know that you cannot make a cat become “accustomed” to something that is against the very way they were created to be, or the way they’ve evolved from ancestors. Some people justify actions that visibly upset a cat by saying, “Oh, she’ll get used to it.”

For example, unless you have a specific breed that enjoys playing in water, such as the Bengal or Turkish Van, most cats hate water. This often does not come down to personal preference, but their inborn nature. Although they will swim if they need to, cats being as dignified as they are, don’t like feeling trapped or helpless. Their fur absorbs rather than reflecting off water, and cats know this. Hence, having waterlogged fur weighs them down, hinders their ability to move as quickly as they usually would, and makes them feel vulnerable; many pet parents would acknowledge that they’ve witnessed their cats shivering long after bath-time is over. I’ve recently read on VetInfo along with Pet MD that drenching your cat in water can indeed be a traumatizing experience; whether you shower gently with a shower head or pour water from a mug, the end result is the same. So, unless you have a way of exchanging a cat’s natural, soft, and beautiful coat with synthetic fur, there’s no way of having a cat “get used to” taking bathes.

It’s understandable that some people later discover they are, to some degree, allergic to their beloved family cat. In such cases, allergists advise that the relief of symptoms would only come from either getting rid of the allergen source (in other words, saying good-bye to your cat), or bathing them very often to get rid of any dander (although new research shows that it’s actually particulates in cat saliva that we’re allergic to). Allergists aren’t veterinarians, so they are not aware of what regular bathing would entail when it comes to the health of the cat. Aside from the psychological trauma described above, bathing day after day removes a cat’s natural oils too soon for them to regenerate, thereby gradually drying skin to the point where it becomes flaky and irritable. As some pet parents would attest, treating such conditions (in addition to the heartbreak that comes along with seeing your cat constantly scratching themselves, developing scaly patches, biting off their own fur, and in general suffering) is expensive as you would have to administer vet-prescribed ointments as well as change your pet’s diet (i.e. Hill’s Science Diet for Cats with Sensitive Skin). Perhaps what’s worst is that these same individuals, whom are willing to put their cat through the stress of bathing, are not mindful enough to at first make changes to their own lives; rather than distancing themselves from cats (easy especially when you are not the primary care-giver in charge of the litterbox, grooming, etc.), they continue to engage in hugging the cat, overlook distancing their face from the cat’s fur, or even eliminating other sources of allergens such as a dusty bookcase right by their bed. The complaints of sneezing or wheezing then, are unjustified. What’s ironic is that neglecting their own health, and not taking the necessary and possible precautions, then results in harming the cat’s health as well.

Unless your cat is the type of breed that enjoys water (definitely not the domestic medium or long-haired breeds), is visibly soiled, or has gotten something on herself that would be dangerous for her to lick off (i.e. cats that end up rubbing against wet paint), it’s not worth it to put your cat through bathing. Thinking that your cat will become accustomed to having weekly waterlogged fur, is as bad as thinking that declawing (a procedure banned in many regions, as it not only surgically removes the cat’s claws, but toes as well – that would be like having the stubs of your fingers chopped off) is normal – both go against the cat’s inborn nature, the way it was created to be.

If you’ve made a covenant with your cat to love and cherish them for all their life, please also be mindful of the type of species that they are. Do not mindlessly reason and force your cat to “get used to” a fear of theirs that can never go away no matter how often they encounter it – whether it be the giant vacuum cleaner or being drenched in water.



A Midday Siesta


Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops! Curie claims the recycling

After hours of sorting Kitten sitting on bag of recycling papersthrough some filing papers, I’d prepared bags to take and empty out into the recycling receptacle. Having only turned around for a moment to get my coat on, Curie caught the opportunity to jump right onto the crinkly plastic bag and make a little mess. It’s definitely easier to keep your cat happy and well-exercised when she finds amusement in little everyday things!

In response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Tis the season to revel in photographic (and/or photogenic) disasters.

Kittens and Newspapers

There’s something about the rustle of shredded newspaper that Curie finds irresistible. It must be the indoor-cat equivalent of jumping into a pile of crisp, autumn leaves! Curie also thinks you might want to admire her new blue, silver-belled, cheetah-print collar.

Kitten playing in newspaper shreds

Meet Madam Curie!

Madam Curie is a beautiful orange and white tabby adopted at 10 weeks old from one of the BC SPCA IMG_4938.JPGbranches on October 24th, 2015. I’d like to say that Curie’s arrival was as convenient as her popping out of a large Hudson’s Bay shopping bag, surrounded by fluffy pink gift wrap and colorful cat toys, but it wasn’t.

I had been checking the SPCA’s “adoptable animals” page for what seemed like forever (but was only two weeks) in anticipation of finding a female kitten. There were plenty awaiting their “forever homes” in shelters located quite faraway from us; but none that matched our personal preferences in any of the nearby ones.

On one busy Saturday morning whilst my parents were reorganizing the garage… my brother who had been helping me in my search by regularly checking the BC SPCA’s list of adoptable pets, exclaimed that there was a female, 10 weeks old kitten available at the Abbotsford branch. I called in right away to request the shelter’s staff to keep the little kitty (they come and go quickly, fortunately!) on hold for us, as we try to get there ASAP; the drive from home to the shelter was 1.5 hrs long!

I fondly remember the first day my family met her. She was purring (a sound we’ve now become so accustomed to!) in her small, metallic, shelter enclosure even! She was seated on top of the cardboard “Hide. Perch. Go” SPCA cat-house, alongside one of her siblings named Monkey (a handsome black and white tuxedo-ed fellow). I should add at this point that, before having been re-dubbed by us, she was comically named Squirrel by the shelter staff; in renaming her, we tried to keep the “Q” sound, and took in consideration her curious (scientist-like, hence Madam Curie) nature.

The lady at the shelter who helped us complete all the adoption paperwork was wonderful. She was friendly, helpful (I had lots of questions!), and even gave us a complimentary scratch post! IMG_4841

She’s not quite full-grown yet, but I can already tell that she will be the most beautiful lady-cat ever (obviously, biased). As evident from her photos, she loves posing for the camera, and lounging on laps when she’s not busy playing with her favorite furry mouse.

I’m beyond excited to bond with and take care of Curie to the utmost of my ability; it’s a special feeling to be responsible for the welfare of another living creature. But undoubtedly, the best part of having a cat now is that I’ll be able to live one more part of the inspiring Sunnah of our prophet Muhammad salalahu alayhi wa salam; he too is said to have a beloved cat, named Muezza.

“A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, “This dog is suffering from thirst as I did.” So, he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, held it with his mouth and watered the dog. Allah appreciated him for that deed and forgave him.” The Companions said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “There is a reward for serving any living being.”
Imam Bukhari.