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Saturday, March 6, 2010

the responsibilities of adopting a rescued cat

For all of us at Ubi Kuching Project, our pet cats are all rescued stray kittens who may have been orphaned, sick or in distress on the streets when we took them home.

For example, Sayang was adopted by us when she was found by Zone 1 cat patron Auntie Can to be lying ill on the car-park ground in Ubi central. She was taken to the vet and diagnosed with stomach flu'. Shadow was found in distress in a drain in Ubi, meowing his heart out till Tity rescued him from being trapped inside.

When we had taken Sayang home, her stomach ills had persisted, she couldn't control her very watery bowels, and we had to take her to the vet again for a jab and some more meds. I had to make a diaper for her to wear so she would stop soiling our house, and eventually she recovered and is now over a year old, healthy, happy and the only surviving member of her family that had remained on the streets before they were killed or culled.

Shadow had scratched and bitten Tity real bad when she had rescued him. Cats don't understand help when they are in distress, so even though Shadow probably knew then that he was being helped, his biological reflex was to protect himself by attacking.

Regardless, Shadow and Sayang are now among the many happy Ubi pet cats that once came from the streets.

The point we would like to drive home is that adopting rescued stray cats is a huge responsibility. It will warrant visits to the vet, definitely and without a doubt. It will mean intensive care from time to time, by you, their only provider. You will end up having to think up ways to administer medication, supplements, better nutrition, for your rescued kitten to rehabilitate into a superb, healthy, well-fed cat.

Some cats may not survive despite rescue. We have had deaths in the Ubi Kuching Project family, such as cats like Kelly, Tigi, Bubbles. This week, Spot passed away too. Life is a two-sided coin, and while we often irrationally blame ourselves for their deaths, we have to come to terms with death's inevitability when caring for animals-at-risk to begin with.

All this means for you, is that adopting a rescued stray kitten is a huge responsibility - financially, time-wise and emotionally. But this is why it is also a noble one, and meaningful. It is about what you can do to save a cat from a far worse life being sick or in distress on the streets. Cats being beautiful return us the favour by becoming our lovely companions. But primarily, it is about what you can do for the cat, and not the other way around.

Despite it being a noble responsibility, it is definitely a stressful position for adoptive cat parents. Wondering why your cat is sick, or under-nourished, or behaving strangely. Worrying that your cat might have masked illnesses that you cannot detect early. We know how this feels, because we go through it too.

The nobility of the responsibility gives it meaning. Knowing that rescuing a disadvantaged stray saves it from a potentially worse fate. Knowing we make a difference to each life we rescue, no matter how small the difference. This keeps us doing our best when it comes to the animals in our care.

Adopting a rescued stray cat is a noble cause and a huge burden all at the same time. If you have adopted a rescued stray, thank you for taking on this lifelong responsibility. Thank you for giving meaning to your cat's life. Thank you for providing it nutrition, veterinary care and love. We understand the burden, because we carry it ourselves, and our love for the animals in our lives and neighbourhood keeps us carrying this burden with joy.



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