Sunday, April 27, 2008

Accidental Companion Animal

On March 30, a 7- to 10-day old kitten was found by my sister in the empty lot across our house. She heard it crying from her bedroom window which overlooks our street. I suppose its cries were so strong and so persistent that she couldn't do anything but investigate. She found it alone, near the trash, being pecked on by a bird. The poor innocent thing was abandoned by its mother then became prey to an animal that was even smaller than it was!

Long story short, my younger brother (who's vegan too) and I made a decision without even thinking of the consequences: we had to adopt this abandoned kitty and give it a loving home. That Sunday night we camped out in our sala and kept the cat company. Now, a month later, Lucky (the name I christened him with) is still with us.

Needless to say, this cat has turned our lives upside down, and not in an unpleasant way. The first 2 weeks were tough --- my 3 brothers and I had to take shifts taking care of Lucky at night; my shift was usually 5-7am, before I'd leave for work. A kitten is very much like a human baby --- it need to be fed constantly; it needs to be burped; it needs a mommy to help it poop and pee (we moisten a cotton ball and massage its butt); it needs to cuddle to fall asleep. The list goes on.

It was tough for us as we are not pet-people. In my case, I've never wanted a personal pet (my sister has 2 dogs but I do not consider them my pets). Back in grade school I used to have 3 chicks and a rabbit (not at the same time). One chick got sick and died, and that pretty much scarred me for life. Two chicks grew to a ripe old age and became full-grown chickens. Our family dog Nana found them frolicking in our garden one afternoon and decided to have them for merienda and left the remnants of their beaks and adidas for me to see. I don't remember what happened to my rabbit Fluffy; I remember it got pregnant and had pups but abandoned them (we kids played with the pups too much and rabbits don't like humans touching they're babies; they turn cannibal or abandon them) so they died. I don't know if Fluffy escaped or if she died. I'm glad I don't know what happened. With my history of dying pets I never craved the love of a pet, or a more politically correct name, "companion animal". I hated that feeling of witnessing a death of an animal that was supposed to be under my care.

A lot of those "I don't want pets" feelings ran through my head when we adopted Lucky. For one thing I didn't have time to entertain and take care of another animal. For another, I didn't want this cat to die on me. But my young vegan brother was smart; he knew that we couldn't just abandon this cat for our own convenience. Not taking care of Lucky was almost like going against the principles of Veganism, and I couldn't just not take him in while preaching the gospel of compassion for animals.

I gotta say... I never understood the bond some humans have with their companion animals until I had one myself. My brothers and I are so blessed to have Lucky. Despite the smelly poop we love him so much, and before you think I'm a wishy-washy veggie, let me leave you with a thought: humans were given stewardship over creation but we've pretty much screwed nature up. Animals can be admirable beings for a number of reasons: they can be fiercely loyal and lovable; they are never plastic and always honest, always showing what they truly feel; if they must kill, they do so with a purpose -- for food and nourishment, and never for sport or for the sake of it. They are such simple creatures and are so happy with the little affection you have to offer them and a little bit of floor to sleep on.

They can be so trustful too -- one time I had to cut Lucky's claws and he allowed me to hold his little paw, nary a struggle or a meow of protest. He just silently watched me cut his claws, staring oh so intently at the nail clipper I was using. He completely trusted me not to hurt him, and my heart ached for all the animals in the world that have been victims to human abuse.

For those thinking of getting pets... May I suggest that you adopt a stray cat or dog instead of giving your money to backyard breeders and pet shops. There are so many animals that need tender loving care. Don't choose a purebreed over an askal or puskal for purity of blood's sake.
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