NOTE: This article was originally published in The RAMpage, the official school publication of Asia Pacific College.
Meow! Have you been seeing those furry purring creatures sleeping or standing by the official seal of Asia Pacific College (APC) at the entrance? If you have, then you have met the (un)official APC cats -- Aurelia, the female tiger-gray tabby and Aurelio, the white-orange tom. The names were given by the APC guards, but I heard they’ve got different names given by the students.
Aurelia and Aurelio started hanging around APC some time last year. They are being fed everyday, and you can see that they are actually looking very healthy! They are now spayed and neutered, which is a humane way to control the overpopulation of cats and promote their good health.
Aurelia proves to be a crowd-drawer, being a naturally sweet cat that she is. She would meow softly and brush herself on people’s legs, wiping away the anxiety of those waiting for the shuttle during rush hour. She enjoys chin scratches and a soft pat on her head. Aurelio, on the other hand, is still a bit wary of people, but would come around when there are less activity at the steps.
Compassion Towards Animals
Animals are an essential part of the ecosystem. If you are one of those people who hate cats and would want them to vanish from the face of the earth, then imagine your life plagued with rats -- the big, bully black ones! Cats keep pests in check, but we have to keep their population in control, too. Through the TNR (trap-neuter-return) program, feral or homeless cats and dogs alike humanely undergo surgery to remove their reproductive organs. After they recover at the clinic, they are safely returned to their “territory.” They then live healthily, and well, lazily, because they don’t need to respond to nature’s call for mating. There are organizations in Manila that support this, and I work closely with Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA). We have spayed and neutered most of the cats in Magallanes, including Aurelia, Aurelio and the ones at the Interchange Park which I regularly feed after work.
Be known that hurting, abusing and neglecting the welfare of animals is punishable by law -- an offender can be jailed for as long as 6 years, with a maximum fine of P500,000 (source: House Bill No. 6049). Not all people like animals, and I would understand if you don’t. But lay your hands/feet off them. Never kick, hit or hurt any animal.
Adopt, Don’t Shop.
I found a tiny orange ball of fur while walking along Lapu-Lapu one Friday night in July 2009. I heard tiny meows, and I stopped to touch her, but I left right away. She’s cute, but Qish, my Siamese cat, was sickly at that time and I was sure he wouldn’t approve a tiny addition to our family. Five minutes later, I was on my way back. I know in my heart that I couldn’t leave this tiny kitten behind. She had me at meow. This tiny kitten who was once thrown on the street because she was unwanted, became my celebrity cat. I named her Rue, the French term for “street.”
She grew up to be a beautiful ginger classic tabby with Puss in Boots eyes. People don’t believe me when I tell them that she was just rescued from the street. She has her own blog (www.PAWsomeCats.com), Facebook page and Instagram account, with quite a number of followers! She even became popular when her photo wearing the Little Red Riding Hood costume became viral WORLDWIDE. Syndicated news sites picked up her photo and posted it on their websites. As of last posting, this particular photo had over 17,000 likes, 4,000 shares and 700 comments in one account!
She has quite an impressive portfolio when it comes to meow-deling. She has two big posters now in Bow & Wow (Shangri-la, Greenbelt 5 and Robinsons Magnolia) and her face was recently on Friskies postcards distributed in different supermarkets nationwide. She was featured in national broadsheets such as Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star, and appeared in Unang Hirit. She also had a teaser shoot with Luis Manzano for Pilipinas Got Talent! All of these meow-deling contracts has a price -- she gets paid a talent fee, and she gets to live the life of a princess cat! Who would have thought that this beautiful cat once roamed the streets of Magallanes in search for food, and perhaps a heart to give her a home?
Rue shows that any domestic cat or dog can be beautiful if they are given proper care. They are called “puspin” and “aspin,” short for pusang Pinoy and asong Pinoy. These cats and dogs roaming the street can be great companions, just like the ones with breed. They can give you the same affection and love, and they will be forever grateful to you. If you feel that you are ready for an animal companion, ADOPT from a shelter or from the street. Don’t SHOP from breeders or pet shops. There are many cats and dogs dying on the street and in animal shelters. You may not change the world by rescuing an animal from the street, but you definitely change the world of that animal. Who knows, your rescued pet may just be the next celebrity model, just like Rue!
I am sure that there are a lot of APC students who have pets. For those who haven’t, let me walk you through the joys of having an animal companion.
2. Learn discipline and responsibility from your pet. If you get up late, your pet will be all over you, asking for breakfast. If you don’t come home at night, you know that someone you love will be hungry. You have to attend to the needs of your pet -- clean their poop, groom their fur, keep track of their vaccination, give them proper exercise. They are living, breathing responsibilities. If you mess up, they can die.
3. Animal companions are a great source of amusement and entertainment. They can do tricks, making themselves look silly, for the human’s pure enjoyment.
4. They make great bed buddies. You may realize that they have taken over your bed when you wake up, but hey, who can complain of free purring heated blanket?
5. Pets help you meet new people, who are potential new best friends! I have met so many of Rue’s fans, and some of them ended up to be great friends.