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Category: Rescue Stories

Pet Adoption Tails: Katrina Ballecer and Marty

Graphic designer Katrina Ballecer is cat mum to Marty, a three to four-year-old Philippine domestic shorthair who was actually a foster fail. The longtime cat owner and foster mum shares, “I was originally going to put Marty up for adoption. But after learning that he needed extra care, I decided to keep him.”  Katrina shares Read More...

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Graphic designer Katrina Ballecer is cat mum to Marty, a three to four-year-old Philippine domestic shorthair who was actually a foster fail. The longtime cat owner and foster mum shares, “I was originally going to put Marty up for adoption. But after learning that he needed extra care, I decided to keep him.” 

Katrina shares how her mom and grandma influenced her love for cats, and how this passion fuels her other interests.  

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Katrina! Could you tell us about some of your most memorable cat adoption stories?

Katrina Ballecer (KB): I’ve been adopting cats since I was a child. The love for cats runs deep in my family—my mom and my grandmother are active cat rescuers. There was a time when we had around 30 cats in our home. Neutering and spaying were not yet very popular back then in the early ’90s, but most of our adopted cats were neutered because we had an American neighbour, a veterinarian who made us aware of its importance.

I consider adopting and rescuing cats to be a part of my normal life since I’ve been exposed to it since I was young. I adopted Nugget when I was still in college. I was just randomly looking out the window, when I saw kittens crying in the truck bed of my classmate’s pickup. We divided the kittens among us and Nugget ended up with me. He was so tiny that he fit in my jacket pocket. He lived a happy and peaceful life with us for 15 years. We miss him every day.

The beautiful Nugget blending in with our pillows

Aside from Nugget, another cat that’s close to my heart is Marty. He used to be one of our community cats who was regularly fed by many people. He went missing, and came back a month after. He became extremely dirty and thin, so I decided that I needed to bring him home with me. I guess I was destined to care for Marty because several months in, we found out that he had severe digestive issues. Marty has had three abdominal operations and several confinements at the vet, but he is a fighter. He is well-loved and thriving despite needing medication for life.

After Marty’s first abdominal surgery: The vet had to remove the blockage in his intestines

WF: What makes Marty unique? 

KB: Marty loves being carried and brushed. He is the noisiest cat and always seems hungry! But I guess that is a normal behaviour for cats who grew up in the “wild.” They are not sure where or when their next meal will be.

On a related note, I have to watch Marty closely because when I am not looking, he is always looking for something to eat (non-food items included!). One time, I found him trying to chew on a wire brush!

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners? How about first-time multiple cat owners?

KB: Give the cat or cats a chance to get to know you. Bonds develop over weeks, months, or even years for some. One of our rescue cats only started allowing us to pet her a year after we took her in!

Marty is one of the clingiest cats we’ve ever had! He likes being carried and can stay still on your lap for hours

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? 

KB: I definitely encourage others to adopt rescue animals because I believe all animals deserve loving homes. Adopt don’t shop!

WF: Could you talk about your personal project, The Offbeat Cat? Where do you get inspiration for your merchandise?

KB: The Offbeat Cat started because I wanted to find a way to make my advocacy more sustainable. It is a bonus that I have fun making all of the cat merch. A part of the proceeds go to our community (Cats of Ortigas), buying cat food and helping out with expenses such as vet bills and neutering. I also try to help other groups and people who need help with their rescues.

I believe that we all have a responsibility toward the welfare of the animals in our communities. I really think that it is something others should get into. Look for your local animal communities, and ask how you can help. It can be as simple as sharing stories on Facebook to help spread awareness or more involved participation such as helping catch cats for TNVR.

WF: Earlier, you mentioned Marty being a foster fail. Could you share some of your best fostering memories? 

KB: My mom and I have been caring for foster cats for years. I think the most number of foster cats we’ve had at one time is six. The best memories are always the ones that involve them being adopted. I super love how kitties are welcomed into loving homes.

These days, I no longer live with my mom, but I still help out as much as possible—taking the cats to the vet, buying supplies, and of course, cleaning. There is really a lot of work involved in fostering, but we love these cats. Seeing how they transform into beautiful creatures is worth all the trouble. 

Before and after we took Marty in

WF: How do you make sure your resident pets don’t get jealous of the fosters and of each other? 

KB: The fosters are separated from the resident pets. They have very little interaction with the resident cats—mostly for health reasons, especially with some of them coming fresh from the streets. 

We try to give the foster cats equal amounts of attention and care, but most of them just want to be left alone (haha!). We focus more on the clingy ones—the cats who like being cuddled, and the ones who need special care. 

Marty is aggressive toward most of the cats, but he is friends with kitties Obi and Cobi since the three of them came from the same area and were rescued on the same day

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for first-time foster parents?

KB: Be patient and don’t be afraid to ask questions from more experienced foster parents.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting and fostering cats?

KB: I feel that I am more active in wanting to help animal welfare groups, and people who are interested in helping animals.

Follow the adventures of Marty on Instagram. Follow The Offbeat Cat on Facebook and Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Neobie Gonzalez and Noisy

Aside from being a Content Specialist at Canva Manila, 30-year-old Neobie Gonzalez is a story writer, occasional doodler, and object maker behind Occult’s Razor and Ay Dios Mio. She is also a first-time cat mum to Noisy, a black-and-white domestic shorthair who is known for being a headbutter, biscuit-maker, and all-around champion sleeper.  Neobie shares Read More...

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Aside from being a Content Specialist at Canva Manila, 30-year-old Neobie Gonzalez is a story writer, occasional doodler, and object maker behind Occult’s Razor and Ay Dios Mio. She is also a first-time cat mum to Noisy, a black-and-white domestic shorthair who is known for being a headbutter, biscuit-maker, and all-around champion sleeper. 

Neobie shares how she first crossed paths with Noisy at her workplace, and what ultimately made her decide to take him home permanently.  

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you come to adopt your cat, Noisy? 

Neobie Gonzalez (NG): As one of the Canva Manila cats, Noisy was always the first to greet anyone who stepped into the parking lot. He was known for his affectionate headbutts and the way he would trot beside you as you shook the bottle of cat food during feeding time. I’ve been told that he was an official Canvanaut before I was, and was well-loved by the office’s pets club, aka the Canva Kitty Crew.

A while back, I started helping out with feeding the community cats before and after work. Noisy, of course, was an immediate favorite. He was often spotted sleeping underneath parked cars, cosied up to his best feline friend, Gingy. He was also used to being around people since he liked to plop his chonky body in front of us and roll around on the ground. 

Recently, a new cat came prowling into the office parking lot. Being a stray, he was quite aggressive and picked fights with the resident cats. Noisy suffered the worst of it. He seemed to be a pacifist (which is a nice way of saying he was terrified), so he was unable to protect himself. He was rarely present at feeding time, even hiding in awkward places to make sure the area was clear of the new cat. 

One day, we noticed that Noisy was limping and wounded. There was a deep gash near his tail that started to develop into an infection. We didn’t want it to get worse, so over lunch, the Canva Kitty Crew banded together and brought him to the vet. At the clinic, the vet told us that the wound was deeper than expected. Noisy had to stay over for a few days to heal, despite how stressful it was for him to spend days with other confined pets. The vet also diagnosed him with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which meant that it would be difficult for him to live on the streets on his own. It was, ultimately, best for him to be adopted by a single-cat household as soon as possible.

As Noisy recovered at the clinic, the Canva Kitty Crew started making plans for Noisy’s adoption. We started looking at possible foster homes, but during our initial talks, I shyly volunteered to bring him home—without first consulting my husband, but he didn’t seem to mind. I had always wanted a pet cat, but my parents wouldn’t allow it when I lived with them. Now that we had our own place, we both knew it was the perfect time to make space for Noisy.

WF: Did you have previous experience with animals? How did this affect your decision to adopt Noisy?

NG: While my sister and I fed a few outdoor cats at my family’s house, I still consider myself a first-time cat parent. Noisy is the first pet I’ve actually had to regularly feed and clean up after. I was anxious about my decision at first, so I tried to learn as much as I could from my friends.

Most of the Canva Kitty Crew members lived with plenty of cats, and they reassured me that everything would be fine. They were incredibly supportive throughout, giving me reading materials and sharing their best cat-caring practices. We even organised a sticker fundraiser to cover Noisy’s vet bills, and they set up a thoughtful send-off party on the day he moved in with us. Kate Ballecer, mother to all cats and Pets Club Manager, shared the sweetest story of Noisy’s first days with Canva, his quirks, and how loved he was in the office. They also brought him gifts! Through it all, I was aware that adopting a cat was quite the commitment, but despite my fears, all I really wanted was to make sure Noisy stayed healthy, happy, and safe.

Stickers from the Noisy fundraiser by some amazing Canva artists and the Canva Kitty Crew

WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting him?

NG: Thanks to the Canva Kitty Crew and CARA Welfare Philippines’ TNR program, Noisy was already neutered. He had his vaccinations at the vet, and was pretty much ready to be brought home. However, most of the worry I had over adopting a pet revolved around making our place more cat-friendly. Our building welcomed pets, but our unit was a relatively small space for two people. I simply wasn’t sure Noisy would be comfortable in it.

In the days before Noisy’s arrival, I frantically moved our stuff around, bought all the cat care essentials at the pet store, and watched all the cat videos I possibly could. Even then, I still didn’t feel ready. It took more than a week for me to finally bring Noisy home. Luckily, with a bed and a stuffed food bowl all to himself, he wiped away my worries and settled in in no time.

Noisy easily settled in, knowing there was a food bowl waiting

WF: Earlier, you mentioned that Noisy was diagnosed with FIV. Do you need to do anything special to help him deal with it?

NG: I didn’t know about FIV until Kate explained it to me. It’s a condition that makes cats susceptible to infections, which is why we were told to keep Noisy indoors. It’s also best for us to limit his interaction with other cats, as FIV is transmitted via bites. Sadly, there’s no treatment for FIV, but a proper diet, regular check-ups, and a stress-free environment will help ease Noisy’s symptoms.

WF: What would you say makes Noisy unique? 

NG: Noisy is a true advocate of the “sleep, eat, and repeat” lifestyle. We often find him snoozing in his bed when he’s not nudging my feet towards his empty food bowl. He’s still quite fond of plopping on the floor and rolling around, expecting the belly rubs he’s grown to love. Contrary to most cats, he doesn’t seem to like heights and is easily startled. I think he’s already christened our vacuum as Enemy Number 1. Noisy doesn’t care much for toys either, but I really appreciate that he’s a sweet, sleepy chonk who perfectly complements my overall grandma energy.

WF: What are the things your adopted pet enjoys doing with you?

NG: When I get home from work, I sit beside him on the floor for a few minutes to make up for my absence. Instead of playing with the toys I made for him though, he would just curl up in my lap and nap again, all the while making biscuits with his paws.

WF: Any funny or interesting anecdotes you can share about Noisy? By the way, what made you name him as such?

NG: The Canva Kitty Crew named him Noisy because of his persistent, unique meows, which either meant he was happy to see you, or happy to see all the food you were bringing him. I decided to keep the name because he already responds to it, and it really captures his character. Even though he’s asleep most of the time, he never fails to make noise when he wants our attention.

Noisy has a power button, but it doesn’t make him quiet

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for first-time cat owners?

NG: Though I’ve only been with Noisy for a few weeks, I’ve learned to pay attention to his body language. He has a way of telling me what he needs, where he wants to be petted, when he wants my attention, or if he wants to be left alone. I think it’s important to spend a few days just observing your pet to improve your communication. It also doesn’t hurt to meow back at him from time to time. I’d like to think he finds this funny.

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?

NG: To be frank, I don’t think any animal can survive living off the streets. They don’t have the resources to fend for themselves and are prone to so much danger, whether it’s being attacked by ill-willed people or getting run over by speeding cars. Adopting a stray into a loving home really gives him a better chance at a longer, happier life.

Anyone looking to adopt a pet should know that it truly is a lifetime responsibility. A pet will be dependent on you for a lot of things, and it’s impossible to look them in the eye when you know you’ve let them down. Before adopting any pet, I’d suggest fostering or volunteering at organisations like CARA first, just to familiarize yourself with pet care. You can also reach out to different animal welfare groups on social media, such as Cats of Salcedo or Cats of Ortigas. They’ve dedicated themselves to feeding, fostering, and finding homes for our furry friends. I think being part of the Canva Kitty Crew and similar communities has definitely made me more aware of how we can treat animals better and provide more for them. Just getting involved in these efforts is a good place to start.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting Noisy?

NG: Not being able to see him at work hasn’t been easy, but now that our home has gotten a little bit Noisy-er and cosier, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is the only form of playtime Noisy likes, and it’s still pretty much a nap

Follow the adventures of Neobie and Noisy on Instagram. 

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Foster Paw-renting & Adoption Tails: Alice Sarmiento

Born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, 34-year-old Alice Sarmiento is an independent curator and art writer who welcomes kittens and cats into her home. Fostering for Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) since 2011, Alice also works as a humane educator, going to schools or touring shelter visitors and talking to them about animal sentience Read More...

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Born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, 34-year-old Alice Sarmiento is an independent curator and art writer who welcomes kittens and cats into her home. Fostering for Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) since 2011, Alice also works as a humane educator, going to schools or touring shelter visitors and talking to them about animal sentience and responsible pet care. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Alice! Tell us about your fostering beginnings. 

Alice Sarmiento (AS): The first animal I fostered is my cat, Sandwich, who currently lives with my mom. Sandwich is what we at the shelter call a “foster failure” because I ended up adopting him after the six month period. 

I began fostering Sandwich after a kitten I had rescued, Strawberry, died of digestive problems. I felt compelled to take Strawberry in because I thought she was dead when I picked her up from the sidewalk and moved her to a flower box. Then, she got up and followed me back to my car, so I asked a friend what to do and she said to take Strawberry to the vet. She turned out to be very sweet, and it broke my heart when she died so soon.

When I tried to donate Strawberry’s carrier to PAWS, I ended up taking two more kittens home after seeing how much help they needed caring for the smallest shelter residents. One of the kittens we took home, Maya, was a tripod whose leg had to be amputated after it had been eaten off by maggots when she was rescued. Maya was adopted as soon as I readmitted her to PAWS, but the shelter administrator at the time recommended I keep Sandwich because as a ginger tabby, he looked very common and could easily be passed over.

WF: What kind of animals do you foster and how long do they usually stay with you? 

AS: I foster rescued cats and kittens for an average of six months, which is how long it takes for them to get through deworming, vaccinations, and neutering or spaying. Sometimes, they need to be rehabilitated for various reasons, so they end up staying longer or just never leaving.

My partner and I take care of our fosters. We live very near the PAWS shelter so it’s easy for us to head over there for vet visits, milk, sometimes food and litter (if there is an adequate supply of donations), and just space to decompress from our own household. Right now, we have four adopted boys and six foster kittens.

Our current fosters. Unique is the big white kitten in the middle. She thinks she’s a momma cat to this litter and does a wonderful job of looking after them. The ones with the sharper faces are Warya (tricolor), Catboy (white with orange markings), Universal Friend (white with black markings), and Chassis (the fat one). Every cat in this photo is looking for a forever family.

WF: What’s the most number of fosters you’ve taken in at one time? What was this experience like? 

AS: I usually have pretty big intakes, averaging about three to seven kittens. It’s actually more unusual for me to have less than three. Until we learn to live with community and feral animals by simply letting them exist while ensuring their health and safety—which includes having community cats and dogs spayed and neutered to keep their numbers manageable—there will always be animals to foster.

WF: What do you love most about fostering? 

AS: It’s not all fun and cuteness and derpy cat videos. It’s a lot of poop and sleepless nights spent bottle feeding entire litters of kittens. You also get used to the grief that comes with it because many of the kittens who end up in our care should never have been separated from their momma cats in the first place. But you also learn that grief is just all the love you can no longer give.

It’s impossible to get all our cats in one photo, and facing us no less. Featured in this shot is Carly Rae Jubjub, who was adopted by a food writer in October 2019 and renamed to Babka, which is a kind of pastry.

WF: What are the challenges that come with fostering? 

AS: Thankfully, since most of my fosters are registered with PAWS, I get a lot of help from the shelter for milk, medicine, and most of the vet care. The hardest part is being anxious all the time about whether or not a foster kitten will make it from bottle feeding and hand rearing to full maturity where they can be spayed or neutered. And when they do, there’s the even bigger challenge of finding them adopters. I would say the hardest part really is trying to convince more people to foster and adopt instead of buy pets.  

Carmina is a former foster who was recently readmitted to PAWS. She has the softest fur and can be very sweet, but she is not very fond of smaller kittens. If you think she’s cute and have space for a companion animal in your home and in your heart, Carmina is waiting for you at the PAWS shelter!

WF: How easy or difficult is it for you when it’s time to give away the foster cats? 

AS: It’s rough for me because I know they are going back to the shelter where, even if they will be cared for by the staff and volunteers, it will in no way compare to the life they had in a foster home or the life they could have as adopted companion animals. I just wish more people would actually choose to adopt so that it would be easier to finish the fostering cycle, knowing that our animals are going to good homes sooner than later. Or better yet, nip the whole process in the bud by spaying and neutering their pets.

WF: Can you share some of your most interesting foster stories to date? 

AS: I had to leave for an artist residency in Germany for five months last year. At the time, I had three foster kittens. Thankfully, my partner is supportive both of my work and of my advocacy, so he stepped up and took care of all three of them, plus one of our adopted boys. For five months, he had all four cats growing up in his studio apartment. Thankfully, it worked out well and he did a great job. We eventually ended up adopting Quezon, who was the only boy in that group of fosters. The other two are Poochie Toots and Anderson Poopurr (who has been renamed Ashbey) and they are still at PAWS waiting for their forever homes.

WF: Speaking of Quezon, could you tell us more about your adopted pets? 

AS: My partner and I take care of four cats in our own house, and on top of that, I have another six living at my mom’s house. 

The ones living with us are Lynx, Louis, Fela, and Quezon. Lynx was found screaming his lungs out under an SUV that stopped at a red light. My partner, Javier, stopped the car and pulled Lynx to safety, and he now lives with us as a seven-kilo hunk of burning love. 

Our twin boys, Louis and Fela, were found within a few days of each other. Louis was a tiny kitten dumped in a plant box on our street. Because he was so loud, I knew the neighbours might not be too kind to him, so I brought him home. A week later, Javier found a kitten right outside our house that looked exactly like Louis. Thinking Louis had escaped, he brought this new kitten inside, only to find Louis chilling on the couch. And that is how we got Fela. 

Meanwhile, our foster fail Quezon was rescued by an exchange student on Quezon Avenue and brought to the shelter right before she had to return to the US at the end of the semester. 

Two of our handsome boys, Quezon and Lynx. Quezon loves cuddling while Lynx is a shoulder cat who loves giving head bops.

The other six cats at my mom’s house are Sandwich, Paul Stanley, Eddie, Banana, Papay, and Miro. Paul Stanley is a fat little tuxedo who I found half-blind and covered with fungus in early 2015. She has healed beautifully, but is still partially blind. In late 2015, I found Eddie under a car with his mom and two sisters. I took them inside so they could nurse in peace. 

Banana and Papay have been with us since 2016. Banana was a former trash gremlin who lived near our old apartment. We started leaving food out for her, then we got her a collar. Eventually, our neighbours started thinking she was my cat, so they began letting her into the building and she would sniff her way up to my apartment. Meanwhile, Papay was left outside my mom’s house in a really sorry state. She had a collar on with a nametag, so we circulated her photo and flyers with her name, but no one came to claim her. 

Banana, a former trash gremlin

Lastly, Miro was rescued by my boyfriend. He was sitting in the middle of the road, just outside my mom’s house. Later on, we found out that he’s actually partially blind as well. Because he suffers from chronic upper respiratory infection, he can’t be around kittens and has to stay with older cats.

WF: How has your life changed after fostering? 

AS: A huge chunk of my day revolves around their care. Even as a fairly recent cat companion, I can’t imagine not having cats around.

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for foster parents? 

AS: Whatever happens, just do what is best for them, but don’t forget to care for yourself as well.

WF: Why would you personally encourage people to foster and adopt animals? 

AS: Caring for an animal is an ongoing exercise in empathy. We need to learn to see beauty and value beyond breed if we are to learn what it really means to care and have empathy.

It’s always interesting to see how cats develop their own personalities. Quezon and our foster kitten Chassis are two of the chillest, happiest cat friends. Carmina, on the other hand, is a bit prissier. 

Do you know of an interesting animal foster story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Annette and Mosey

Say hello to cat mum Annette F., a freelance editor/writer who keeps herself busy by working for a non-profit organisation that promotes Philippine art through art shows and children’s books. Annette reveals, “I could never keep my pets alive as I was a young girl⁠. My goldfish, puppies, bunnies, and guinea pigs all died on Read More...

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Say hello to cat mum Annette F., a freelance editor/writer who keeps herself busy by working for a non-profit organisation that promotes Philippine art through art shows and children’s books. Annette reveals, “I could never keep my pets alive as I was a young girl⁠. My goldfish, puppies, bunnies, and guinea pigs all died on me. So as an adult, it became my pride that I have been able to keep my cats alive!”

Annette currently owns three cats with her partner, all shorthair cats which they either adopted or rescued together. She recounts the story of how four-year-old Mosey joined their fur-mily. 

Cuddling with Mosey

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Annette! Tell us about your cats.

Annette F. (AF): Duchess is a 10-year-old male cat who was mis-sexed when he was a kitten. My partner was the one who first adopted him. Meanwhile, I found our two younger cats: a six-year-old ginger tabby named Hot Sauce, and a beautiful calico named Mosey.

Mosey is the youngest cat of our brood. My partner and I had a fight at the time, and to cool off, I went out for a walk. Being sad and upset makes my ears more sensitive to kitten’s meows, so as I was walking, I heard some very loud meows. I crossed a busy street and went to the entrance of an alley. Near the garbage bags, I found Mosey—the cutest little furball! I took her home with me in the palm of my hand. It’s funny because I think that I was projecting my sadness onto the kitten, and I just felt so bad for her. At the same time, I was also missing the fun of having a kitten around, and I was also curious as to how it would be to have a female cat, since our two cats at home were males. 

I took her home in the guise of wanting to foster her, but truly, I wanted to keep her from the get-go. I waited for my partner to be totally smitten by her—kept her in the bedroom with us, saying that the older cats should be introduced to her slowly—before I asked him very sweetly if we could keep her instead. Sneaky, sneaky, I know! But it worked, and we are a happier family for it. However, I also had to promise him that Mosey would be our last cat. 

Mosey as a tiny kitten

WF: Before your adopted pets came along, did you have previous experience with cats? How did this affect your decision to adopt them?

AF: I never had any cats before, but I once borrowed my partner’s cat because of a rat problem in my apartment. His cat was totally useless but he was nice company, so that’s when I felt like I could actually take care of a cat. 

I’ve also been very unsettled about having to pay a big amount of money for a pet. I had considered buying a cat before, but I realised that adoption is much better because it costs me [practically] nothing and I am able to give a home and a family to an animal that needs it. I also do not want to support bad breeding practices from backyard breeders.

WF: What makes Mosey unique? 

AF: Of all our cats, Mosey is the sweetest physically. She doesn’t mind cuddles, and although she might want to squirm out of my arms sometimes, she never scratches me or gets angry when I shower her with cuddles and kisses. She likes hopping onto the bed next to me, and squeezes herself next to me.

For approximately two years when we first adopted her, she never made a sound. We wondered if she was mute or something. When she eventually made sounds, it was like, “Krrr, krrr.” She sounded like a bird chirping! It is very funny. To this day, she doesn’t meow.

WF: What are the things your other adopted pets enjoy doing with you? 

AF: Duchess likes to just be in the same room as us, but he doesn’t like being touched. Hot Sauce doesn’t like to be touched using our hands, but he looooooves it when we rub him with our feet!

Hot Sauce ruminating on the meaning of life

WF: What’s the best paw-renting tip you can give for first-time cat owners? How about those about to have multiple pets at home?

AF: My tip would be to just let cats be. When they first come home with you, let them come out of the carrier on their own and let them explore on their own. Cats have their own pace at warming up. Don’t be nervous and just let your cat’s personality unfold. 

When you get another cat at home, do the same thing. Introduce them to each other gradually and just let the wonderful process unfold.

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?

AF: Do it! Adopt, don’t shop. In the case of the Philippines, so many cats are waiting for homes in shelters, and these shelters are underfunded and undermanned. There are also so many cats just living on the streets. They are hungry or get run over, so consider giving them a beautiful life.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting your cats? 

AF: I think I’ve become a more patient and kind person. There’s just something about letting creatures be, and that also transfers to humans as well. Cats have their own personalities and don’t want to be controlled. When you let them be, their personalities shine, and you can have a beautiful, open, and loving relationship with them. This is true for people too!

Having cats has also been such a source of comfort for me in sad and difficult times. It’s great to have “someone”—just a living presence—at home with you. This would also be such an important lesson for people to learn—how to be there for each other. Sometimes, and especially when things are hard, what you need is just someone’s presence. You don’t need them to give you advice or tell you want to do; you need someone to be there for you and just be with you in your suffering. My cats have been like that to me, and that is also how I try to be with my friends and family.

Duchess is Annette’s co-working cat at home (but really, he is more like her supervisor with intermittent nap privileges)

Follow the adventures of Annette and her cats on Instagram

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Rogelio Tiu and Abigail

An administrative assistant from the United States of America, 39-year-old Rogelio Tiu is an animal lover who has taken in dogs and cats over the years. He shares the story of his favourite rescue dog, a pitbull-dachshund mix who sadly passed away last August 2019. Rogelio shares, “Abigail was the first pet I ever personally Read More...

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An administrative assistant from the United States of America, 39-year-old Rogelio Tiu is an animal lover who has taken in dogs and cats over the years. He shares the story of his favourite rescue dog, a pitbull-dachshund mix who sadly passed away last August 2019. Rogelio shares, “Abigail was the first pet I ever personally rescued. She was with our family for 10 years.”

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Rogelio! How did you first come across Abigail?

Rogelio Tiu (RT): Abigail was scared and anxious when I found her hiding underneath my neighbour’s parked truck. My neighbour mistakenly thought that she was my dog. I pulled her out carefully and noticed that her collar was tight, which was a sign of neglect. I brought her back to our house, removed her collar, gave her water and food, and tried my best to make her feel safe. 

The next day, my wife posted signs about a lost dog that was found. As weeks went by, nobody claimed Abigail, so my wife and I decided to keep her as our own. She instantly became a part of our family. I knew she needed help that day and a new loving family that would love her very much.

WF: Were there any hardships that came with adopting her? If so, how did you deal with them?

RT: Before Abigail came along, we already had three other dogs and four cats in our home. I guess the only thing that would be considered a challenge was how Abigail initially behaved around the cats. She chased them because she was curious about them, but she quickly picked up that the cats were part of the family too!

WF: How was Abigail during her first few weeks at home?

RT: She was timid and unsure at first. I think it took about two weeks for her to warm up to us and let her real personality show. However, it felt good knowing she immediately got along with our other pets.

Abigail showing off her silly side

WF: What’s one funny story you vividly remember about Abigail?

RT: One time, Abigail held an apple with her mouth and she passed out. She looked like a roasted pig. It was hilarious!

WF: What would you say made Abigail unique? 

RT: Abigail was unique because of her breed—she was a pit-dachshund mix! She enjoyed giving us lots of kisses and showering us with non-stop love. At night, Abigail liked to crawl underneath the sheets and just snuggle with us in bed.

Sharing the bed with one of our cats

WF: As a pawrent of adopted animals, what’s the best parenting tip you can give for first-time animal rescue owners?

RT: Always be patient with the animals because you don’t know what their lives were like before they joined your family. And always give your pets the love that they deserve.

WF: Can you also give advice for people who are considering bringing in another animal into their home? 

RT: Introduce the animals to each other. Be present during the first few times they interact. Let the other animals see how you welcome the new animal as well. That way, both parties will understand that they are part of one loving family.

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?

RT: Adopting will give the animal in need a second home and another chance to live. Plus, adopting animals is the best way to fight puppy mills.

My life changed because of Abigail. I’d say that I became even more compassionate and kind toward animals because of her.

Hogging the fan on a hot day

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Foster Paw-renting Tails: Ouie Badelles

Painter, children’s book illustrator, and Visual Arts teacher Ouie Badelles has been fostering cats since 2008. The 54-year-old artist has fostered over 10 cats to date, saying, “I take kittens mostly, because they are easy to pick up from the street. They are easier to handle than bigger cats.” Ouie opened up to Waldo’s Friends Read More...

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Painter, children’s book illustrator, and Visual Arts teacher Ouie Badelles has been fostering cats since 2008. The 54-year-old artist has fostered over 10 cats to date, saying, “I take kittens mostly, because they are easy to pick up from the street. They are easier to handle than bigger cats.”

Ouie opened up to Waldo’s Friends about temporarily welcoming cats into his feline-dominated flat (he owns three full-grown cats) and finding them furever homes.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you get into fostering? 

Ouie Badelles (OB): My first fosters were two male kittens I found on the street, outside my previous home. Back then, my only pet was a half-blind pug named Stitch, who I adopted after he was abandoned. I was driving toward the compound gate and saw a carton box by the road with two kittens inside it. I silently muttered, “No. No. No… Don’t look at me.” But one looked at me while I was driving by and followed the car. I had to stop.

I have to mention that earlier that afternoon, I had just witnessed a kitten being run over. After a car’s tyre rolled over the kitten, it still tried to get up and was run over again. I was in tears as I drove away. The image was still vivid in my head, so I was carrying this feeling when I saw the two kittens. 

I decided to take the kittens home to stay with me overnight, then bring them to the shelter the next day. However, the shelter was full, so they encouraged me to foster. They gave me a week’s supply of kitten formula and a medicine dropper to feed the kittens. 

The two kittens stayed with me for around three months until I found a home for them. When I brought them to their new home, I gave a starter care package of cat food, a bag of kitty litter, and a litter box. I was in tears when their new daddy was carrying them into their new home. Ten years later, they are happy and in good health, as their daddy updates me every now and then.

WF: How did Stitch initially feel about the two kittens being around? How did you help him adjust to them?

OB: Stitch, by nature, was a pacifist, and had no aggression. He was a Dr. Dog for PAWS. He welcomed everyone, human or animal. Sometimes, he would bark at the cats or kittens if they were running around. When he was younger, he would even run and play with them.  

Stitch taking a nap beside fosters Ninja and Legaspi

WF: Are you involved with any of the animal rescues in your community or do you foster on your own? 

OB: I foster on my own. My most recent one was a kitten rescued from the highway who was about to be run over. He stayed with me for a month. He is now with someone I used to work with. I would rather rehome my fosters with someone I know or someone I can check up on once in a while.

WF: Do you remember the most number of fosters you’ve taken in at one time? What was this experience like? 

OB: I think the most I had was seven cats but they were of different ages. One time, I arrived home and they were all at my dinner table looking at me, waiting for me to feed them. Back then at my old place (which had a big yard), I would just leave the door open so the cats could come in and out and keep Stitch company.

Welcome home, Ouie! Now feed us!

WF: What do you love most about fostering kittens? 

OB: Among so many things that fostering has given me, I think what I love most about it is seeing how an animal moves from innocence to trust, or (in the case of my formerly feral fosters) from distrust toward a human to a regard of full trust and fondness. 

My best example for the latter would be Almond, a foster fail from The Peninsula Manila Hotel. He used to be feral and ferocious. During our first few days together after he was neutered, I kept him in a cage. Whenever I needed to insert my hand into his cage to feed him or change his water, I had to wear a thick glove because he hissed, clawed, or bit me. It was really an uncomfortable experience for both of us.  

One morning, he made a show of not liking me while I was opening his cage, so I snapped at him and said, “Ay, bahala ka sa buhay mo!” [“It’s your life, do what you want!”] I did not feed him that day. The next day, he seemed to have reached the realisation that I am the one taking care of him and that I will not hurt him. He began to purr and I fed him without issue. The following day, the glove was no longer necessary. 

I took care of Almond for 10 years. I considered adopting him out several times, but he showed that he trusts nobody else but me. Whenever family or visitors came over, he would hide. He never let anyone else come close to him and touch him. As he got older, he would sleep beside my feet and nuzzle my toes while purring.

Almond finally out of the cage

WF: What are the challenges that come with fostering? 

OB: Finding the right paw-rents is always challenging. Some are not aware that certain coat colours and patterns have temperaments. For instance, tabbies tend to be even-tempered and more cuddly, while blacks are very welcoming and love nuzzling your legs. They do not like to be picked up and carried for more than a minute, and yet they are very protective of their furry and human families. Meanwhile, calicos are very choosy with their humans but love tummy cuddles. People who are not aware of these coat and personality affinities tend to choose the “prettier” cats.

Another challenge is that cats are more attached to places than to people. So a new rehoming would involve the cat needing to stay indoors for at least a week to feel comfortable with the place, otherwise they will find their way back to their former home. It has happened to me! One time, I transferred residences and one of my fosters ran away. I did not see him for a month. When he finally showed up, he was thin and hungry. While I was feeding him, he was meowing in between chews, as if saying, “I am so sorry I ran away. I am not going to do that again.”

Foster Houdini nuzzling up to my pet Cali

WF: Can you share some of your funniest or most interesting foster stories to date? 

OB: One foster was out of sight yet inside his new home for a full week. The family’s only indications that he was present was that his food and water were being consumed and his litter box was being used. During his second week, he kept his distance from them and would hide again if approached. Good thing I oriented his family that this was normal as they built trust. The best thing to do during that transition would be to respect his distance and wait for his proximity bubble to decrease. They would ignore him by not looking at him, but they would speak to him so he would get used to their voices and presence. After a month, he was already taking naps on their laps.

Another foster of mine was lucky to have been the only cat I was fostering after I picked him up from a busy city street. Since he had no elder cats to teach him how to behave, he regarded Stitch as his parent. He learned the ways of a pug: he greeted me when I got home, walked with me from the car to the front door, and snuggled with me the way Stitch would.  He would also jump up at me and cling onto my t-shirts with his claws. He did not realise his claws hurt until I fostered another kitten. During their plays, he learned that cat claws could draw blood! He retracted his claws and no longer jumped up to greet me. 

This foster cat then passed on the same things Stitch taught him to the new fosters. He was around four years old when I found a home for him and another cat. The new family found it so endearing that the two of them behaved like dogs: greeting them when they got home, and walking with them from the car to the front door.

WF: When it’s time to give away your foster, how easy or difficult is it for you? 

OB: It is always an emotional time. As much as possible, I prefer to bring them to their new home so I can see the household set-up. I recommend where to place the litter box and feeding area, and to orient them about the need for a scratching post, especially if it will be their first cat and their home has antique furniture or leather sofas. I also prepare a care package consisting of a week’s supply of cat food, a toy, and a bag of kitty litter.

Ouie saying goodbye to foster Dudley
Photo and cover image (top) by Sheila Catilo

WF: Aside from fostering, you have three cats of your own. How do they feel about you bringing in other animals temporarily? 

OB: There is always an awkward period of a few days. There is initially a lot of hissing and snarling, but once they get used to each other’s scents, they are okay.

WF: How has your life changed after fostering animals?  

OB: I learned to be more patient and sensitive to the fact that animals (and humans) each have their own baggage as they find a place where they can be themselves and be safe.

WF: What’s the best tip you can give for first-time parents? 

OB: For first-time foster parents, I suggest that they anticipate every need of their ward. Start with the basic needs (food, safe shelter, designated place to pee and poop) and then move on to the next level, the need to adjust socially within their family. Anticipate that fosters do not know how to behave with a human family or with other animals, and they need to learn how to behave appropriately so that they will emerge as well-adjusted and more likely to find their new homes. 

Another is to prepare to have your heart broken on your first rehoming. Keep in mind that once you have rehomed a foster, you have just cleared the space in your home and heart for another younger animal who needs a safe place.

WF: Why would you personally encourage people to foster animals? 

OB: It builds character, both for you and your foster. I see fostering as one way to build a community of caring individuals and families who are willing to take care of others in need (human or animal). If we have caring communities, it is one significant step closer to what we want: world peace.

Batman and Almond

Follow the adventures of Ouie and his foster kittens on Instagram.

Do you know of an interesting pet fostering story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Solon Condenuevo and Wayne and Robin

Thirty-eight-year old powerlifter and personal trainer Solon Condenuevo never imagined he would be the doting dad to two cats: one-and-a-half year old Wayne and his three-month-old adopted son, Robin. Despite the fact that his companions at home weren’t originally keen on having pets, the animal lover made an effort to find a safe space for Read More...

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Thirty-eight-year old powerlifter and personal trainer Solon Condenuevo never imagined he would be the doting dad to two cats: one-and-a-half year old Wayne and his three-month-old adopted son, Robin. Despite the fact that his companions at home weren’t originally keen on having pets, the animal lover made an effort to find a safe space for them.

Speaking with Waldo’s Friends, Solon shares how this “dynamic duo” unexpectedly came into his life. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you come to adopt your pets, Wayne and Robin? 

Solon Condenuevo (SC): I first came across Wayne as a dirty stray kitten. His mom abandoned him on the street, just outside our home. I heard his cries for a few days and began to feel pity for him, so I took him in and decided to take care of him on a permanent basis. But first, I brought him to the veterinarian to get checked and treated because he was riddled with fleas. 

Wayne and Solon

Robin is a totally different story. About a year after I took Wayne in, he brought Robin into our home. One random morning, Wayne was feeling extremely restless. It felt like he was raring to go out, and when I opened the gate, he scampered and went away. I let him be. A few hours later, Wayne came back with a kitten, which he carried by the back of its neck. He dropped the kitten by my feet, looking at me as if to say “please accept this kitten,” so I did. 

In my heart, I believe that Wayne is the father of Robin because they have the same fur colour combination. Wayne is named after the famous character Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego), because it looks like he’s wearing a black mask. As such, it only seemed fitting that I call his adopted son Robin. 

The mild-mannered Robin

WF: Did you have previous experience with animals? How did this affect your decision to adopt these cats?

SC: I’ve always loved taking care of animals, but I had a long break of owning pets before Wayne and Robin came along. When my dad passed away, my cousins encouraged me to get a pet to help me cope with grief and depression. Their advice worked because the moment I found Wayne, my mood instantly lifted. I knew that caring for him would distract me in a way, and fill the void that was in my heart. 

WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting your pets? If so, how did you deal with them?

SC: I didn’t have any major issues with Wayne. It was more of my mom not wanting me to adopt him because she didn’t want the added expenses and responsibilities. Plus, she didn’t want Wayne going around the house freely. However, I proved to her that I was capable of caring for Wayne by finding an enclosed area that he could comfortably stay in, and regularly feeding and cleaning his area. 

Soon, I noticed that my mother’s attitude toward Wayne changed. Wayne has a sweet personality and he would always call out to my mom, so she slowly warmed up to him. Eventually, she would even be the one to remind me that it was time for Wayne to eat. She also wouldn’t get mad whenever Wayne entered our house. 

There was also an issue that our grandma was allergic to cat fur, so Wayne and Robin weren’t allowed to enter her home (which was connected to ours). However, we later found out that it wasn’t the case, so the cats are now welcome to roam around that house as well.

WF: What makes your adopted pets unique?

SC: Wayne and Robin always greet me when they see me come into the house or garage. Wayne calls me by meowing at me, asking to be scratched under his neck or belly. 

Both father and son enjoy receiving belly rubs

Whenever I sit beside them, they always try to go on my lap and knead my legs. I am grateful that they don’t take their claws out whenever they do it. Sometimes, it even feels like they’re tickling me. 

Whenever I feed them, Wayne and Robin always look at me intently throughout their meal. After eating, they rub their bodies against my legs and try to lick me. It’s as if they are telling me, “Thank you for feeding us!” 

WF: Any funny stories you can share about your pets?

SC: I love playing hide-and-seek with Wayne whenever he’s in the mood. It’s funny because I would hide in a spot where I could see him (like behind a door), then he would proceed to look for me. Once he finds me, he would jump at me then run away to hide again. 

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners?

SC: Treat them as equals. Show your love for them in various ways. Feed them, provide toys and shelter for them, and take them to the vet as needed. Study their body language and use visual cues and vocal signals to communicate with them.

Though it’s not required by Philippine law, it’s highly advisable for paw parents to have their pets neutered. I had Wayne neutered to decrease his urges to step out, mate with other stray cats, and get diseases from them. Before, he would be gone for days and I would be so worried about him. Good thing he would always come back. Robin isn’t neutered yet, but I plan on doing so once my vet gives the go signal.

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?

SC: My advice is to really think twice and consider all factors before adopting a rescue animal. Adopting one is a lifetime commitment which will involve your time, effort, and resources.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting your pets?

SC: Wayne and Robin have the power to instantly lift my mood. They make me happy when I’m sad or stressed out. When I’m alone, I don’t feel lonely because I can just go and talk or play with them. 

Wayne and Robin show off their black and white fur

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption and Rescue Tails: Karmanova Evgeniia

Thirty-one-year-old Russian translator Karmanova Evgeniia is an animal rescuer and activist currently based in Moscow. The furmom of three happy pups (Mimi, Nana, and Ursa), Evi previously spent five years in South Korea, where she began rescuing dogs and a few cats. She shares, “I was always interested in animals and wildlife, but my parents Read More...

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Thirty-one-year-old Russian translator Karmanova Evgeniia is an animal rescuer and activist currently based in Moscow. The furmom of three happy pups (Mimi, Nana, and Ursa), Evi previously spent five years in South Korea, where she began rescuing dogs and a few cats. She shares, “I was always interested in animals and wildlife, but my parents didn’t allow me to have a dog when I was a kid. So I am fully enjoying doing it now.” 

Adopting out over 70 animals to date, Evi makes it her mission to take in, rehabilitate, and find homes for the sick, difficult, and unwanted. She says, “It is easy to adopt a healthy animal, but it’s more fulfilling to see them becoming healthy and happy.”

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you come to adopt your pets Mimi, Nana, and Ursa?

Karmanova Evgeniia (KE): My landlord allowed me to have a pet back when I was living in Korea. I started searching on Facebook, and saw a beautiful maltese that was about to be put down. I decided to adopt him immediately, but when I opened the rescue’s page, I saw Mimi. Nobody claimed him for a long time, and he was scheduled to be put to sleep too. I ended up adopting Mimi because he looked so scared. He was my first adopted dog. (The good news is that the maltese I originally wanted got adopted too!) 

Soon, I started volunteering in a city pound nearby. On my first day, I brought home a very cute maltese puppy with a broken hip, so Mimi wouldn’t be lonely while I was at work. And that’s how I started fostering. The following week, I brought home two more puppies, then more sick dogs… 

As for Nana, I was making posters for the city pound rescue page about three years ago when I came across a black grumpy dog with short legs. The pound worker said that she had been staying there forever. I said that if she didn’t get adopted the next week, I’d take her. I adopted her so Mimi would have a friend and I could stop fostering other dogs, but apparently, it didn’t help.

With Ursa, I got lucky because there were other people who wanted to adopt her, but nobody had experience with “difficult” dogs like me.

Nana and Mimi out and about

WF: Were there any difficulties that came with adopting them? 

KE: Mimi was actually my worst dog ever. He literally destroyed everything in my house. He was so afraid to be left alone, that’s why I brought him a puppy to keep him company. I always say they’re not my foster dogs but Mimi’s because he teaches them things like how to use pee pads or go outside.

Ursa is a blind-born boerboel who came from backyard breeders. I’ve always wanted to have a big dog, so after I moved from Korea, I started searching for one. I wanted a healthy and happy dog, but instead, I got a very happy dog. She loves everybody—animals, people, snacks… everything! She still has problems with going outside because new places scare her, but she already knows lots of commands and enjoys training. 

Despite being blind, Ursa is always happy

The two other dogs also have health issues. Mimi has a herniated disk, so sometimes he needs acupuncture. Nana had severe heartworm, so her heart is not perfect. But despite all these, they are all very happy. The funny thing is that they are not big fans of each other at home. They all sleep separately, and only Ursa tries to be friends with everybody. But when Nana and Mimi are outside, they are a team. 

WF: What are the things your rescue pets enjoy doing with you? 

KE: Their favourite thing is to cuddle. I always have big beds so everybody can come and cuddle together. Even Ursa sleeps on my bed. It’s very important for blind dogs to feel connection and warmth of others.

WF: Any funny or interesting anecdotes you can share about your adopted pets? 

KE: The latest “funny” story I have is that Ursa destroyed all my shoes except for the ones I wore to work. So now I just have one pair for all occasions. 

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for people adopting animals for the first time? How about to pet owners planning to take in another pet? 

KE: Never think about a rescue dog as a poor little thing because in this case, it can get fat fast. Many people try to give their rescues lots of delicious things. Stop yourself from doing it a lot, especially at the beginning, because you’re going to spoil your precious pet. Also, think about their past experiences. See how they react to cars, TV, etc. Try to understand what their life was like before they came to you and try to help them adapt to new things. 

When you are taking in another pet, never adopt just for yourself. Your first dog is a part of the family and he has the right to choose. Check what kinds of dogs your pet likes more in terms of size, age, and disposition, then try to get a match. The best example would be Mimi and Nana. They have similar bodies and ages (both small and around 7 to 8 years old), so they have similar speeds and interests. It’s very easy to walk them both. 

Mimi and Nana enjoying the cool seabreeze

WF: You post a lot of success stories and updates about the past animals you’ve rescued on your Instagram account. Can you tell us more about your animal rescue efforts in Korea and Russia?

KE: I used to volunteer at Yongin Pound Adoption and some private shelters in Korea. I would just usually pull an unwanted dog from a kill shelter, vaccinate, spay/neuter, make the dog pretty and happy again, and then find him a home. We sent about 15 or more dogs to Russia, and we continue to do it from time to time. 

It’s not like there are no dogs in Russia that need help. It’s just there are so many young small dogs in shelters (like maltese, chihuahuas, and shih tzus), but it’s hard to adopt those in Russia. Some people don’t want to buy a dog or sponsor breeders, so they are willing to wait till their adopted dog flies out from Korea. These days, I’m trying to find homes for some Russian dogs as I am living here now and it’s easier to organise the process.

Just a few of the adorable rescues: Yuki, Tokki, and Sandy 

WF: What is the process like for adopters living in another country? 

KE: Adoption to another country takes more time. After finding a good applicant and having a good interview, you need to find a rescue in the place where the adopter lives in case of emergency. You need this because you don’t want the dog to be left on the streets. You also need to find a flight courier (a person who will fly to the country and bring the animal), which may take some time, but it’s usually quite easy in big cities.

As for the adoption process, it is very similar. A person fills in the application form, answers questions, visits you, and then you decide. Sometimes, it’s hard to say no to a person when you have a better candidate, because frankly, you don’t know who is really the best. You’re just using your sixth sense. From my previous experiences, I’ve only been mistaken once. The dog was rehomed and now lives happily ever after.

WF: Why would you personally encourage people to adopt animals? 

KE: Because endless backyard breeding and selling pets in shops must be stopped. Also, a seller never tells you everything about the dog. He just wants your money. But shelter volunteers and fosters will help you find the best dog for you because they care.

WF: What do you love most about rescuing animals? 

KE: Getting Christmas cards from owners (where the beautiful rescues sit near the Christmas tree) or basically getting photos from owners. It’s like I can’t have all these dogs to myself, but I am happy to see them living with good families.

Follow Evi’s adventures on Instagram through Uncle Mimi’s Inn and Ursa_theblindboerboel

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Coco Yu and Rocket

Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Coco is a cat lover who just recently adopted her first stray. She shares how she found Rocket last December, and how he became the best gift she received that Christmas. She reveals, “My sister and I were putting up decorations in the garage for our house Christmas party Read More...

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Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Coco is a cat lover who just recently adopted her first stray. She shares how she found Rocket last December, and how he became the best gift she received that Christmas. She reveals, “My sister and I were putting up decorations in the garage for our house Christmas party when we heard soft meows coming from behind the car. I went to check and found a tiny, dirty kitten with the saddest eyes, just sitting on a bench. He was clearly famished and looking for food. I gave him some wet cat food (I had some at hand because I also feed the strays in our village) and he immediately devoured it.”

Coco continues, “He stayed in our compound for a day, until one of the neighbourhood boys saw him and mentioned that he may be from our neighbour who fosters stray cats. I returned the lost kitten to our neighbour by slipping him through their gate. I thought that maybe the kitten was looking for his mom since I guessed he was just about a month old. The following day, the stray kitten found his way back to our house. He waited patiently inside the box we first put him in. That’s when I decided to rescue him.” 

Rocket’s firsts: His first day in his box and after his first warm bath

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Did you have previous experience with animals and pet rescue? How did this affect your decision to adopt Rocket?

Coco Yu (CY): We used to have dogs before. I also had tortoises and another cat that was given to me, but this is my first time to rescue a stray. Personally, I believe all lives matter—whether it’s human life, animal life, or plant life. 

This kitten was obviously too young to care for himself and would most likely die without food or water. He was malnourished and covered in fleas when we found him. Giving him basic animal care was the humane thing to do. I couldn’t bear the thought of the poor kitten dying and I didn’t do anything about it, when in fact, I could have done something to help. 

WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting him?

CY: It wasn’t a hard decision to keep Rocket. He was so young when he came to us, so it wasn’t difficult for him to adjust to a new environment. He wasn’t afraid of human contact.  He ate well and slept well; he enjoyed playtime and “lambing” [showing affection] time. We just had to be extra patient in dealing with his flea infestation and ear mites. But it was almost immediately treated within two weeks’ time. 

Finally free of fleas and diarrhea! No more confinement for Rocket

WF: What would you say makes Rocket unique? 

CY: Unlike most cats, Rocket is a very calm kitten. He loves being cuddled, petted, and even carried like a baby. I think he would go with anyone, so long as you give him chin rubs and body rubs. 

Sometimes, Rocket “talks” to his toys. He would meow at the toy and circle around it before launching an attack. I find this really funny. It’s as if he’s warning the toy, “Get ready, you’re about to go down!” 

When the room is awfully quiet, you bet mischievous Rocket is up to something. He likes to hide in cabinets, under the sheets, or behind drawers. These days, his new hiding spot is inside my backpack!

Playing hide and seek

WF: What are the things your adopted pet enjoys doing with you?

CY: He loves being constantly petted. This still surprises me sometimes, but I’m more than happy to oblige. I notice that he eats more when I’m around, so I try to be present during his meal times. Rocket also likes to observe me whenever I’m writing or meditating. Maybe he wants to meditate too!

Captured this as he was sitting still and observing a bird outside the window

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners?

CY: Having a pet is a serious commitment; it’s not a social status indicator or something you do “just for fun.” Think of it as having a child. It takes work and sacrifice—you need to spend time and resources on your four-legged baby. It may be tiring, but it is also very rewarding. 

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?

CY: If you are seriously thinking of adopting a rescue animal, congratulations and thank you for taking the moral high ground! Most stray animals had a hard start in life. Living off the streets is not an easy feat—food and water are scarce, they are constantly exposed to parasites and illnesses, and they do not have a roof above their heads to protect them from the heat or heavy rains. 

Adopting them means these vulnerabilities will be kept at a minimum. You are giving them a much bigger chance at surviving and having a better, longer life. Adopting saves lives, so thank you for choosing to save a life by adopting. Trust me, these animals will forever be grateful to you. 

WF: How has your life changed after adopting Rocket?

CY: I know this for sure: my life has been more purposeful and colourful since I rescued Rocket. I look forward to going home after a long day at work because I know he is waiting for me. It feels great to save a life; it feels even greater for the love and care you give to be given back to you tenfold. 

Sometimes, I look back at Rocket’s very first photo (all dishevelled and filthy) then I look at a recent photo and get teary-eyed. A little love can really go a long way. 

Like Meowmy, like son: Funny twinning moment with our tongues out

Follow the adventures of Nicolette and Rocket on Instagram

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

Pet Adoption Tails: Natalie Watt and Kombu and Yuzu

An active couple residing in Sydney, Natalie Watt and Chris Gatt are doting pawrents to three-year-old Kombu (a kelpie-corgi mix dog who they adopted from a farm) and four-year-old Yuzu (an extremely shy cat who they adopted from a small, independent rescue). Natalie chats with Waldo’s Friends to share why other people should consider adopting Read More...

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An active couple residing in Sydney, Natalie Watt and Chris Gatt are doting pawrents to three-year-old Kombu (a kelpie-corgi mix dog who they adopted from a farm) and four-year-old Yuzu (an extremely shy cat who they adopted from a small, independent rescue). Natalie chats with Waldo’s Friends to share why other people should consider adopting animals as well as how the two animals brought so much joy into their lives.

Chris, Natalie, and Yuzu

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Did you have previous experience with animals and/or pet rescue? How did this affect your decision to adopt your pets?

Natalie Watt (NW): When I was 16, I adopted a street cat who wandered into the family house one night. We decided to keep him and he lived to be 18 years old. Then, I adopted another tabby cat from a friend about six years ago after she found out her newborn was allergic to cats. I fostered Jasper for a while when my friend was pregnant so I didn’t want him to go to some unknown home. I had him for about two years before he passed away from cancer. Having “adopted” my whole life and volunteered at the shelter, adopting was a no brainer. 

Jasper and little Kombu fighting to be
Dad’s favourite

WF: Can you share Kombu and Yuzu’s adoption stories?

NW: In 2016, we were looking at adopting a dog on different rescue pages, but we couldn’t decide on the breed/age. A friend heard we were looking and mentioned a friend of his who recently had an unexpected litter of two. The mother was an eight-year-old working kelpie, and the farm owner didn’t need anymore working dogs since they already had several. The owners suspected that their neighbour’s corgi jumped the fence and mated with their kelpie.  

Kombu with his sister

We looked at the photos sent to us of the six-week-old puppies and decided to go to Mudgee, NSW to meet them. Kombu was actually quite shy and kept chasing his mother for milk, while his black-and-tan furred sister was outgoing and climbed all over me. However, we decided on the boy because he would suit our personalities more. Little did we know, he wasn’t a shy dog at all. As soon as he came in the car with us, he immediately clung to me during the car ride. 

In the car ride to his furever home

Growing up, Kombu has shown how much he loves to play ball and LOVES the ladies (and people in general). It’s been amazing raising him from puppyhood and feel our bond grow by the day. He acts differently around me and Chris. I’m the “serious mum” and Chris is the “playful dad.” He would do all sorts of crazy things like play fighting with Chris, but with me, he is more cautious and respectful. This is not a special rescue story but it’s been great to know that an unwanted working dog can be raised in a city home and live a fulfilled life. 

As for Yuzu, we adopted her about a year after Jasper passed away. We already had Kombu, but we felt a hole in our lives. I looked at rescue sites for a while, but I wanted to adopt from a smaller local organisation as opposed to someone from RSPCA who has more funding. I saw Yuzu on Butterfly Wings Animal Rescue and I was immediately attracted to her (ugly) face. She wasn’t ugly per se, but she had so many fur colours she looked almost like a chimera. I contacted the rescue page and they called back that evening as they were concerned. The foster mum said that she wasn’t a typical cat and had been in foster for a while because she wasn’t friendly or outgoing.

Yuzu’s photos on the website

At that time, Kombu was already displaying jealous and protective behaviour toward other animals at the dog park. I thought maybe a not-so-friendly cat would actually be more easy for Kombu to adapt to. 

When I went to meet Yuzu at the foster home, the foster mum introduced me to several of her fosters who were friendly and playful. They couldn’t introduce me to Yuzu as she was hiding! After a while, Yuzu came out to eat and I watched her for a while. After she felt comfortable with me and got on the cat tree, I started playing with her, which was surprising to the foster. According to her, Yuzu never played with anyone that came to meet her, so they always ended up adopting another cat. 

First encounter with Yuzu at the foster home

Knowing that Yuzu was extremely shy, we wanted Chris to meet her as well just to be safe. Chris and I went to meet Yuzu the following week and the same thing happened: Yuzu started off hiding and then came out to play with us. The foster mum was finally convinced that we would be happy and able to handle Yuzu’s unique personality. She did, however, warn us that we would never have a lap cat, which I was fine with as I’ve had cats my whole life and knew that they all had different personalities. 

WF: What were the first few nights at home like for Yuzu? 

NW: Yuzu was very shy and scared the first week at our house. We had a spare bedroom and I put her in there to separate her from Kombu. The first few days were tough. I had several beds, boxes, coves, and cat tree for her so that she could choose whatever height and spot she wanted. She chose a well-hidden box and sat in her own urine for a day. Her foster home previously had six cats, two dogs, and three birds, so maybe going into an empty house scared her too much. 

I eventually enticed her out, washed her, and cleaned up her space. In the second week, she grew more confident, explored the entire house, and met the dog. When she finally relaxed, she sat on my lap! As the weather got colder, she eventually came out of her shell and decided to sleep ON MY FACE to keep warm. She was tiny at the time and only fit on half of my face. She’s still tiny and weighs about three kilograms now. She also has shorter legs, so I think she might have some dwarfism in her. I still think she’s ugly but very cute nonetheless. 

Happily receiving a few scratches after week one; sitting on my lap after week two

Initially, I was very worried that I could not provide her with what she needed, but after lots of time spent with her and showing her that she could trust me (including hand feeding her while she was too afraid to come out of her box), she eventually did. 

WF: What makes your pets unique?

NW: All animals are unique and have their own personalities. While they all display typical behaviours, our kelpie is playful and energetic, while cat is, well, cat…  

Kombu absolutely cannot roll on his back. He physically cannot do it. He is not interested in dogs and would rather spend time playing with balls or saying hello to humans. However, one time during bring your dog to work day, he met a female kelpie (in a cast no less as she had a broken foot) and started playing with her. According to the owner, she never plays with other dogs either, so I guess that’s love at first sight! I’m still trying to organise a date with the other dog.

Training and patience paid off! From being scared of car rides, Kombu now enjoys them

Yuzu is the biggest goof and sulk. She speaks to us and demands pats and love. She still hates having visitors at the house, but is much more open to Chris and I. She doesn’t sleep on my face anymore but is still happy to snuggle either in Chris’s tummy or my back and shows affection in her own way. However, I’m certain she loves Chris more as she gave him a moth about a month ago. I’m still waiting for her to give me a gift!

WF: What are the things they enjoy doing with you?

NW: Kombu enjoys everything. He’s a bit of a Velcro so as long as we are around, he’s happy. He has a fear of water. He was pushed into a river while playing with another dog at about three months of age (his first time at a dog park) and we’ve never been able to get him near water. But we have been successful in getting him in a very shallow lake last Christmas, so he’s slowly understanding water. Hopefully, he can enjoy it one day. 

Yuzu enjoys food and parkour. She would randomly do a cat zoomie and parkour onto the walls at times and run down our long corridor nearing bedtime. And after three years of trying, she’s finally understood grooming and at times enjoys my brushing her. 

Yuzu loves to play

WF: Could you talk about the dynamics of Kombu and Yuzu? Do they get along? 

NW: They “hate” each other. Kombu is always “herding” her and sniffing her bottom, and she hates it. But at times I would find them snuggling up and sleeping together, so I think they all just put on a show in front of us!

Our snuggle bugs

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for people with cats and dogs living in the same home? 

NW: Don’t force them together. Give the cat plenty of heights and hiding spaces that the dog can’t get to so the cat can feel safe. Yuzu has a two-metre cat tree, two window perch beds, and toys in the bathtub that Kombu can’t get to and destroy. 

WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?

NW: Research breed traits that best match your lifestyle. Talk to and visit shelters and rescue groups, and meet or even volunteer with them before adopting. If it’s your first time getting a pet, do your homework and don’t take it lightly. Understand that it’s a lifetime commitment, and no matter how fun or well behaved they look on the internet, lots of hard work and training are needed. Training is for a lifetime too! My dog is three and I’m still training and teaching him new things.

Adopting a mature animal is great as you know exactly what you’re getting, and oftentimes, the rescue would have already done some basic obedience training. But if you really want a puppy/kitten, be prepared for the hard work. Lots of people don’t realise the amount of work and energy needed to raise a baby animal, and that’s the reason these animals often end up in a shelter through no fault of their own. 

Kombu and Yuzu in various states

WF: How has your life changed after adopting your pets?

NW: Hectic! Having a pet is like having a child. It’s a lot of responsibility, sacrifice, and compromise. It’s a lot less crazy than having a human child, but the responsibility is not reduced. You are responsible for a life and you have to respect that life!

I’ve had to give up some social life and traveling when Kombu was a puppy, and I often felt guilty if I was leaving him at home to go out for a night. And yes, I couldn’t just get up and go on a month-long holiday. He’d wake me up early in the morning even when I want to sleep in, and I can’t have nice furniture or clothes because he gets everything dirty. But I wouldn’t have it any other way! The furbies have brought so much joy and challenges in my life, I couldn’t imagine life without them. It’s magical having this bond with an animal.

Follow the adventures of Natalie, Chris, and their pet Kombu on Instagram. 

Do you know of an interesting pet adoption story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!

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