Category: Rescue Stories

Pet Adoption Tails: Yvonne Leung and Pumpkin

Yvonne Leung only started adopting cats in 2016 when she moved to Shanghai, but she admits that the graceful creatures have always had a special place in her heart. As a modern-day nomad who can’t seem to stay at a place for very long (she’s lived in Hong Kong and the UK before coming to Read More...

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Yvonne and Hoi Hoi

Yvonne Leung only started adopting cats in 2016 when she moved to Shanghai, but she admits that the graceful creatures have always had a special place in her heart. As a modern-day nomad who can’t seem to stay at a place for very long (she’s lived in Hong Kong and the UK before coming to China), Yvonne is ready and willing to take her cats with her wherever she goes. She reminisces about how she met her beloved furbabies, Hoi Hoi and Pumpkin, and what she loves most about them. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Could you share your adoption stories with us, Yvonne?

Yvonne Leung (YL): My first cat, Hoi Hoi is a handsome, mixed breed cat with a V-marking on his forehead. He was picked up by my friend when he was just two months old. He was the unwanted one among a litter of six kittens (all his siblings already found a home but he was still waiting to be adopted) and his rescuer was leaving the country, so my friends took him in. I fell in love with Hoi Hoi before I came to Shanghai. I saw his photos and found his unique marking super adorable, so I adopted him right after my move. He was six months old back then and is nearly four years old now. Sadly, he is currently missing, but I still have faith that he will come home. 

My second cat, Pumpkin, is a big ginger girl who is around three years old. I met her near my office on a cold day in December. I was walking down the street, and saw a big ginger cat from far away. I called “meow, meow” and she came running to me and rubbed my leg. She was very sweet and was not afraid of people. 

As it was cold and not safe on the streets, I decided to pick her up and help her find a home. With the help of two very nice colleagues (Angela and Win), we were able to capture her on the second night and brought her back to our office. Pumpkin was our office cat for a while, and during that time, we made posters to find her a new home. But during Chinese New Year, the office was empty for over a week so I took her home. She got along extremely well with Hoi Hoi, so I decided to officially become her mom.

Pumpkin was my first rescue, but I’ve always believed that we should adopt pets instead of buying them. I’ve read so much about terrible breeders so I’ve never considered buying a cat.

WF: Were there any challenges or hardships that came with adopting your pets?

YL: I was very lucky as it was quite easy with both Hoi Hoi and Pumpkin. They adapted to new environments very well. I’d say the most difficult part is to become consciously aware that I am responsible for two other living things, and I need to make the best decisions for the three of us.

WF: What was it like suddenly having two cats at home?

YL: I was lucky that Pumpkin and Hoi Hoi become good friends in a short span of time. They would sleep together and always lick each other’s fur. They would stick together and enjoy quiet times.

Lying purrfectly still

WF: How would you describe Pumpkin?

YL: Pumpkin has a very majestic personality. She has the air of a queen around her. I believe she used to be an alpha cat when she was still a stray. All my friends call her queen. Haha! She is very chill, laid-back, and sweet to humans.

However, she can be very mean to other cats, especially if the other cat bugs her too much. One time, she hit the other office cat Tofu really badly. Tofu screamed so loud the entire office heard him! She also doesn’t like kittens. Whenever the little ones want to play with her, she would run to the other side of the room.

Every morning, she meows at me as soon as she knows I’m awake to demand for food. She would sit and stare at me as I use the bathroom to pressure me. But she is also very sweet because she would only start meowing when I’m awake. Before that, she would lay quietly beside me. Pumpkin hates getting her nails clipped so her nails are super long and sharp, but she loves kneading her hoomans so it is a problem.

Piling on the pressure through a steely stare

WF: What are the things Pumpkin loves doing with you?

YL: She enjoys getting her fur combed, receiving rough head and chin rubs, putting her head on my lap, and staying quietly next to me. She is a lazy indoor cat.

WF: Since Pumpkin was originally a rescue cat that stayed at your office, do you still bring her there these days?

YL: Pumpkin doesn’t enjoy staying in the office that much. I think it’s because it gets too noisy there. The last time I took her there, she peed and pooped in the cat bag when I took her home! She would rather sleep at home all day and not move an inch.

WF: What tips you can give for first-time kitten or cat parents?

YL: Read a lot of cat blogs. Try to get a basic understanding of cat behaviour and their needs. Also, bear in mind that every cat is different, so just be patient and shower your cat with love because they will feel it and reciprocate.

Pumpkin dressed up like a fairy

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?

YL: Because I’ve received so much love from my cats, it is very heartwarming to know that your cats are always there and waiting for you after a long day’s work. They make my home in Shanghai feel like a real home.

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

YL: Go ahead! But also make sure you have the capability and willingness to care for the animal for the next decade or so. A pet can only make your life better. It is also a blessing to see how a rescued animal transforms right in front of your eyes.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting Hoi Hoi and Pumpkin?

YL: I feel that being a cat mom has made me more responsible and has forced me to have some sort of future plans. For example, it’s not easy to bring cats from China to other countries, so I need to research and plan ahead. 

Also, I think Pumpkin saved me when Hoi went missing. I was very, very upset and I didn’t have the heart to do anything, so Pumpkin would sit quietly next to me to give me support. She wasn’t a very cuddly cat before, but since then, she has become quite cuddly to show me that she loves me.

Cat loaf cuteness

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

10 Adorable Rescue Pets You Should Follow Online

There’s nothing like a photo of a cuddly creature to instantly turn a frown upside down or make you feel warm and fuzzy all over. Some paw parents have taken the concept a notch higher, creating Facebook or Instagram accounts “owned” by their beloved pets, sharing their pets’ most captivating photos and videos to spread Read More...

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There’s nothing like a photo of a cuddly creature to instantly turn a frown upside down or make you feel warm and fuzzy all over. Some paw parents have taken the concept a notch higher, creating Facebook or Instagram accounts “owned” by their beloved pets, sharing their pets’ most captivating photos and videos to spread happiness, and amassing thousands of followers and likes in the process (with some even getting that elusive blue check mark beside their handle!). 

Whether you’re a new pet owner hoping to get ideas on how to build a loyal following for your four-legged pal or just a true-blue animal lover in search of your daily dose of cuteness, follow the accounts of these 10 rescues-turned-influencers to brighten up your day. They’ll surely take over your feed…and your heart!

1 Nala Cat

This nine-year-old Siamese tabby cat was once a wee kitten separated from her litter and left in a shelter. Thanks to her hu-mom who took her in at about five months old, she has grown into the delightful cat that she is today. As the cat with the most Instagram followers (currently at 4.2 million), Nala posts a mix of hilarious, quirky, and beautiful entries sure to keep you entertained. 

Follow Nala on Facebook and Instagram.

2 Prissy and Pop

Have you ever heard of animals attending school? Adopted mini pigs Prissy and Pop have been doing this for years, participating in storytime sessions and playing with students at Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. Aside from being the official class pets, the two oink-redible creatures keep their hooves busy by tending to rescued farm animals

Follow Prissy and Pop on Facebook and Instagram.

3 Lil BUB

With her unusually big green eyes and a pink tongue that’s always sticking out, how can you not fall in love with Lil BUB? We give you another reason: This little angel helped raise USD 120,000 for homeless animals in 2018 alone! Diagnosed with dwarfism that keeps her permanently looking like a kitten, this eight-year-old rescue cat will definitely bring loads of joy into your life.

Follow Lil BUB on Facebook and Instagram.

4 Pumpkin The Raccoon

Pumpkin’s social media accounts show what it’s like to live in a home dominated by a Bahamian raccoon and fellow rescue dogs. The photos portray a unique story, but it’s the hilarious captions accompanying the images (usually “conversations” between Pumpkin, Toffee, and/or Oreo) that will make you want to see more of this beady-eyed queen.

Follow Pumpkin the Raccoon on Facebook and Instagram.

5 Smush

Smush is no ordinary-looking cat. Born with genetic abnormalities, she was once an abandoned, sickly kitty who was nursed back to health in a shelter, and later adopted by two moms. The bread-loving feisty cat now pays it forward, using her unusual appearance to encourage pet adoption, raise funds for animal welfare organisations, and help more animals in need. She’s one pawsome furball!

Follow Smush on Facebook and Instagram.

6 Jill The Squirrel

This six-year-old eastern grey squirrel is a proud survivor of Hurricane Isaac that came to Louisiana, USA. Follow Jill’s account to watch her funny antics: sleeping in the crook of her mom’s neck (preferably underneath the shirt), running around and playing with squirrel figurines, and swiping all the Starbucks napkins that she can get a hold of (she claims it makes the best bedding!).

Follow Jill on Instagram.

7 Norbert

With spreading smiles and giving high fives as his two main hobbies, it’s no surprise people are fawning over this snow-coloured, pint-sized mixed breed that was adopted through Petfinder. The sweet-faced canine regularly volunteers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and his path to becoming a therapy dog became publicised through his book, Norbert: What Can Little Me Do? See him perform his favorite tricks and discover what goes on in his amazing life by following his accounts.

Follow Norbert on Facebook and Instagram.

8 Pumpkin Pie The Cat

Four years ago, this grey-coloured British Shorthair cat was saved by the RSPCA after being found in a hoarder’s home. Known for her #restingbritface, Pumpkin Pie has a penchant for staying inside paper box castles, playing with her long red ribbon, sunbaking by the window, and making air biscuits.

Follow Pumpkin Pie on Facebook and Instagram.

9 Maggie the Wonderdog

Nothing can stop this blind dog from spreading good vibes with her joyful demeanor and indestructible spirit! Before Maggie found her furever home, she was discovered on the streets of Beirut by Wild at Heart Foundation after being shot 17 times. Her ear was cut, her jaw was broken, and she was pregnant. Despite all odds, she survived and is now touching lives by being a therapy dog. She is truly a wonder! (Maggie fans can show their support by buying Wild at Heart Foundation shirts with her pawtrait on them. All the proceeds will go to ensuring the safety of more street animals.)

Follow Maggie on Facebook and Instagram.

10 Waldo and Salsa

We couldn’t resist rounding up the list with two of our favorite Sydney rescues, Waldo and Salsa. Though these spotted siblings are polar opposites (one is a ball of energy and spunk, while the other is an introvert who enjoys her alone time), we’ve witnessed how these traveling buddies love each other through rough playing and secret cuddles.

Follow Waldo and Salsa on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of respective accounts

Pet Adoption Tails: Amanda Thompson and Lucy

Forty-three-year-old Amanda Thompson currently lives in Sydney as a human resources assistant. During her free time, she creates vibrant works of art featuring Australian wildlife. The cat mum shares how Lucy came into her life 18 months ago, and how the bitey tabby changed their lives completely.  Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Amanda! Were you always Read More...

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Forty-three-year-old Amanda Thompson currently lives in Sydney as a human resources assistant. During her free time, she creates vibrant works of art featuring Australian wildlife. The cat mum shares how Lucy came into her life 18 months ago, and how the bitey tabby changed their lives completely. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Amanda! Were you always keen on adopting cats?

Amanda Thompson (AT): I have always had adopted pets my whole life. I remember a kitten we named Hamish just turned up in our backyard when I was a kid. Then, we had Mootzi (who we adopted from a family friend who couldn’t keep her when they moved), Charlie (who we found as a kitten in the bushland in Perth), and Indiana (who we adopted from the cat shelter). 

When I left home, I adopted Cactus the cat. She belonged to the man who lived behind my parents. A few years later, my husband and I adopted Rupert, who needed a new home and we had him for 10 years until we moved to the UK. He went to live with my family in New Zealand! 

At present, Lucy is our adopted shorthair tabby cat. She is approximately three years old, as the RSPCA estimated her to be one year old when we adopted her. Her name was originally Codie. However, we have a nephew named Cody, and her name didn’t seem to suit her. She is affectionately known as “Goose” at home, which suits her personality!

Goose strikes a paws

WF: How did you come to adopt Lucy?

AT: Once we settled back in Australia, we decided to adopt a cat. We didn’t want a kitten as we had such a great love for our older cat, Rupert. We went to the RSPCA shelter in Rouse Hill and met a few lovely cats there. 

Lucy really stood out to us as she wasn’t like the other cats. Rather than being attentive, she was curled up in her box and didn’t want to get to know us. When we tried to pat her, she bit our hands! We thought she might have a hard time being adopted by a family with this attitude, so we decided she was the one for us. We adopted her on the spot.

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

AT: Both my husband and I have always had cats. I tried to adopt a dog once, but it was aggressive and I had to return it to its owners. Having had many cats before, we knew we wanted another one. We felt that with us both working, leaving a dog at home all the time wouldn’t be fair, whereas cats don’t seem to mind so much.

WF: What were the initial challenges that came with adopting Lucy?

AT: We wondered if we had made the right choice for the first few months of owning Lucy. She definitely had a wild side. She liked to bite us quite a lot and scratch the furniture. We bought a couple of Feliway diffusers which helped calm her down. We also bought her lots of toys and scratching posts/blocks. She still bites occasionally, but mostly when she is playing.

The biter

WF: Aside from being a biter, what are her other quirks?

AT: Lucy isn’t much of a cuddle cat and doesn’t like sitting on our laps, but she loves to give us kisses and also likes to chew my eyebrows! She also loves stealing whole rolls of toilet paper and delivering them to us in the middle of the night. 

She enjoys playing chase in which she chases you, or you have to chase her around the house. It helps me get my steps up!  Hide-and-seek is also her favourite game.

During a fun game of hide-and-seek

WF: How has your life changed after adopting Lucy?

AT: We laugh every day at her antics, whether it’s her stealing things (like toilet rolls or my paint brushes) or her playing chase around the house. We travel less now that we have a pet, but that’s okay. It helps us save money. Haha!

WF: Your Instagram account is filled with beautiful animal portraits. Were you inspired to make these works of art because of Lucy?

AT: I love animals. I’m not sure if Lucy inspired my artwork, except for the portrait I painted of her, of course!

Lucy checking out her pawtrait and Toby’s pawtrait

WF: As a longtime pet owner, what’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time pawrents?

AT: Be patient. Sometimes, it takes a while for pets to settle into a new environment. Speak to your vet about behavioural problems and research products such as Feliway, as they definitely helped us a lot!

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?

AT: There are so many unwanted pets out there that I prefer to give one a home, rather than paying a breeder. I don’t know why but adopted pets seem more loving. 

For people thinking of adopting a rescue animal, think about what kind of pet would suit your lifestyle and your home. Speak to the RSPCA or other adoption agencies to see which animal would suit you best. Make sure you have enough time to spend with your pet, then go for it! 

See more of Amanda’s works (and occasional appearances by Lucy) on Instagram.

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

Pet Adoption and Rescue Tails: Paige Graham of Island of Misfit Chihuahuas

Hoping to spread awareness about senior and special needs pet adoptions, Paige Graham is a proud mother of handicapable animals. The Florida-based vet nurse turned soap and ice cream maker shares her unique experiences with her fur family in her blog Island of Misfit Chihuahuas, and highly encourages people to adopt special needs rescue animals Read More...

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Hoping to spread awareness about senior and special needs pet adoptions, Paige Graham is a proud mother of handicapable animals. The Florida-based vet nurse turned soap and ice cream maker shares her unique experiences with her fur family in her blog Island of Misfit Chihuahuas, and highly encourages people to adopt special needs rescue animals with a hashtag we’ve fallen in love with – #adopttheweirdones. Paige spoke with Waldo’s Friends to share how she got into adopting “unwanted” animals and growing her pack. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): We loved reading about your misfits and want to know more about your very first – Peter Jennings. Could you tell us about how you found him?

Paige Graham (PG): Peter Jennings came to me shortly after I graduated college.  I was working in a restaurant at the time, and one of our regular customers told me that his dog had recently given birth and he didn’t know what he was going to do with the puppies. I had my first real apartment at the time, and thought I was finally a true adult that could handle the responsibility of a dog. I offered to take the litter, and the next day, I found myself bringing two tiny, six-week-old puppies home in an old crock pot box. Peter was chubby, loud, and stubborn as an ox. I had found my spirit animal. A coworker with a soft spot for litter runts adopted Peter’s brother, and that was my very first experience finding a home for an “unwanted” animal.

Peter Jennings was named after the ABC news legend

WF: How did you decide to make a home and rescue hub for the “weird ones”? Was it a conscious decision or did you keep falling in love with the different members of your crew each time?

PG: I think I’ve kind of always been drawn to the “weird ones” in many aspects of my life. I’m a weird little person that likes weird little animals. One of my favorite cartoons as a child was Underdog, so maybe that had something to do with it. 

My rescue work gradually evolved over the years as I volunteered and fostered for different rescues and shelters. I saw how difficult it was to place “less adoptable” dogs, even when the only thing “wrong” with the animal was a purely cosmetic issue. It absolutely broke my heart, and motivated me to start adopting and advocating for senior and special needs animals, and eventually to found my own rescue.

WF: You’ve adopted from a range of different shelters. Could you tell us how you’ve become a part of this community?

PG: I am lucky to live in a very pet-friendly area of Florida where the majority of residents are animal lovers to some degree. There are several breed-specific rescues and no-kill shelters where I live, so the opportunities to get involved have been pretty endless.

Charlie was the first dog with spinal injury that I ever took in, and he was from Limbo Chihuahua Rescue. Adopting that dog honestly changed my life. It’s hard to describe the bond you form with an animal that relies on you for so much; it’s just incredible. He’s the happiest, bravest dog I’ve ever met, and it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when he’s around. Charlie has helped me see that animals don’t attach an emotional element to an injury or physical ailment the way humans do, and as such, they don’t ever think that they “can’t” do something. They just go for it. Charlie sees the ball being thrown, and he goes after it without hesitation—even when his back legs don’t work! I want to be more like Charlie when I grow up.

Charlie and Ninja, two wheelie pups on the beach

WF: Could you also share some tips on how to socialise special needs pets with other dogs in the house? Would you recommend keeping newcomers in a safe space before they fully assimilate with the whole family?

PG: It’s definitely important to take an animal’s special needs into consideration when introducing them to your existing pack. You want to make sure your special needs pet has plenty of space and feels secure at all times, especially if they have a vision or mobility issues. 

It’s also a good idea to temporarily quarantine any new animal that is brought into your home to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. I’ve found this quarantine period to be an excellent time for new animals to adjust to my home and all the new smells and sounds that come with it. Once I’m sure an animal is healthy, I begin by introducing them to my most territorial animals at a neutral location like a dog park. I’ve found that walking dogs together (even if it’s senior pets being pushed in adjacent strollers) really helps dogs to bond with each other.

WF: From running the rescue and foster efforts to doggie ice cream, misfit soaps, and working as a nurse, could you tell us about how you manage your time? We’d love some tips!

PG: I definitely stay busy, that’s for sure! I truly love everything I do, so none of it ever really feels like “work” to me. In the last year, I’ve backed off on the majority of my nursing work to focus on my rescue efforts. The dog ice cream business and soap shop are two ways that I’ve been able to generate income for my rescue while still doing things that I love. 
 
There are times when any caregiver needs to take a break, however, and I’m no exception. I’m not always the best at realising when I need to take a moment to breathe, and that’s something that I’m trying to work on. In a few days I will be having surgery to correct some injuries I sustained in a car wreck earlier this year, and that has kind of forced me to slow down and take a breather. It’s also made me value my health a lot more, and I definitely admire my special needs animals all the more now that I’ve been sidelined by injury!

WF: We’d also love to know more about your advocacy work as a special needs dog mum. Do you find that the mainstream media is keen to discuss these issues?

PG: I think the mainstream media has become far more accepting and even encouraging of special needs animal adoptions over the last few years. I think there was a time when people thought it was “too sad” to see a dog in a wheelchair, but I feel we’re evolving to a point where we can look at that paralyzed dog now and say “look how happy he is!” instead of “poor baby!” The website The Dodo has been hugely supportive, and I’m incredibly grateful for all the awareness they have brought to senior and special needs pets.

WF: From Olive to Alice Cooper – you’ve also had a few cats on your feed. How has this cat mom experience been for you?

PG: I never thought I’d end up a crazy cat lady! I was always The Dog Lady… until a stray kitten with a broken leg showed up on my carport. The kitten had to have his leg amputated, so I brought him inside to live with my dogs. Now, Walter Croncat is a cherished member of our family, and I have a newfound affinity for stray felines.

 Walter Croncat

WF: What are your future plans with your crew and community? How can the rest of us best support people such as yourself to do more of this amazing work?

PG: I would love to be in a position soon where I can buy enough land to open a proper sanctuary for more of the “weird ones.” My ideal existence consists of a few acres, a huge garden, and a swarm of senior and special needs animals.
 
I encourage people to seek out other rescues in their area, especially the smaller, foster home-based rescues with limited resources. Volunteering your time to foster a litter of kittens, drive an injured dog to a medical appointment, or hand out brochures at a rescue event is every bit as valuable as monetary donations. If you’re unable to foster or perform the more physical tasks, it’s always helpful to share adoptable animals on social media. Senior and special needs pets have a ton of love to give, so the next time you visit a shelter, I encourage you to give that snaggletoothed, three-legged, or one-eyed animal in the corner a second look.

Abraham and Peter in the garden

Follow Paige and her family of misfits on Instagram.

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

Pet Adoption Tails: Michelle Calasanz and Apricot

Manila-based Michelle Calasanz is a Theta Healer, and a certified plant and kitty lover. She has rescued and fostered strays all her life, and fondly shares two of her most memorable cat adoptions with Waldo’s Friends: Cocoa Banana (a brown Persian – British Shorthair mix who was with her for 16 years and passed away Read More...

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Michelle and Apricot

Manila-based Michelle Calasanz is a Theta Healer, and a certified plant and kitty lover. She has rescued and fostered strays all her life, and fondly shares two of her most memorable cat adoptions with Waldo’s Friends: Cocoa Banana (a brown Persian – British Shorthair mix who was with her for 16 years and passed away in December 2017) and Apricot Pineapple-Locklear (a year-old puspin she recently adopted last April).

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you get into animal rescue as a child?

Michelle Calasanz (MC): I’ve been rescuing cats since I was a child. We are a family of cat lovers, and rescuing is an activity we grew up with. If we rescued a cat, it would automatically be ours. I remember we had 29 cats at one point! 

Once, my family and I heard non-stop meowing coming from somewhere. After many hours, we finally found a kitten inside a plastic bag that was inside a garbage bin. We named her Lagro, which was short for Milagro (which means miracle). She went on to live a long life and have kittens of her own. 

I’ve had good experiences rescuing animals, but also traumatic ones. I’ve rescued so many cats that I don’t even remember all of them. There have been many deaths, but the most traumatic ones involve me leaving or abandoning cats behind. Once, when I was around 10, I was walking home from school and I picked up a tri-coloured kitten with either a head injury or worms on her head. We had her for a week, and I named her Mew-Kit. For reasons I don’t remember, my mom told me to return her where I found her. I cried the entire time. 

Also, a few years later, we had to move to a condo. We didn’t know how to rehome the cats we had at that time, so we abandoned them. I was young, and we were inexperienced in these things. It wasn’t until I was older when the thought of bringing a cat to a vet or rehoming them became a thought. It traumatised me so much that I vowed never to abandon a cat again.

WF: How did you come to adopt your two pets?

MC: I adopted Cocoa Banana when I was only 18 years old. I was depressed at the time, and we didn’t have any cats in or out of our house. My psychiatrist told my mom that I should have a cat again, so despite the “no cats in the house” rule that my mom implemented at the time, we adopted Cocoa from my cousin, in order to save me. He was a tiny, flea-ridden brown rat (yes, rat), and my brother Simon and I had to carefully remove his fleas one by one (we didn’t know about flea treatments back then).

Cocoa’s first day at home

MC: As for Apricot, my best friend/roommate Dennis and I were just wandering about Bonifacio Global City when we came across Pet Week outside the Central Square area. We passed by the Cats of Manila adoption booth simply to “inspect” the “children” (yes, we call cats children). Our eyes immediately went to Apricot, even if I have an affinity for calicos.

Out of the blue, Dennis said, “Let’s adopt her.” We lost two children within a few months of each other, and we were left with only one cat at home. It was weird because I am usually given a cat or I rescue one, but something in me said yes. We immediately inquired with Cats of Manila on how to adopt Apricot. 

We were told that she was already reserved, but they interviewed us anyway. I gave her the name on the spot too! Dennis has a way of speaking and charming people, especially when talking about animals, and I honestly think HE is the reason we got chosen to be Apricot’s parents.

Apricot’s first day at home

WF: Were there any hardships that came with adopting Cocoa and Apricot?

MC: Aside from dealing with his fleas, Cocoa was an active, ankle-biting cat. Before his first birthday, he got sick and remained a sickly child for 16 years of his life. He had to visit the vet at least once or twice a year.

Meanwhile, getting chosen to adopt Apricot was easy. When we came back to the adoption booth that same evening, we were told that we were chosen. Yipee! The first three days was the adjustment period. Apricot was skittish and paranoid, but she was always headbutting us and asking for belly rubs. She met our resident queen, Ongina, and it took them a few days to “tolerate” each other. Ongina is a 10-year-old orange fluffy Persian who prefers cats with breeding (she’s such a snob!). In rare occasions, she and Apricot have sniffed and played with each other.

Apricot is still young, so she sometimes likes to play or be noisy when I have clients at home for sessions.

WF: What would you say makes your adopted pets unique?

MC: Cocoa was my son. My shadow. My best friend. My anti-depressant. He would wake me up every morning by jumping on my chest and suckling my fingers. He would lay on my hands as I typed on a keyboard. He would sit beside me when I was feeling upset. He was my only cat who loved being carried like a baby.

Cocoa adored being carried around

MC: Apricot was the most popular in the adoption booth because of her white coat and different eye colors. She’s lived most of her life in the streets, so that’s something she still has in her. In the beginning, she loved hanging out on dustpans and brooms, and licking garbage bins—thank God she outgrew that phase!

Apricot and her stunning set of eyes

MC: Though Apricot is very sweet, she strangely likes Dennis more than me. I think she knows Ongina is “mine,” so she claims Dennis as “hers.” She loves to headbutt and flop on the floor to ask for belly rubs. She cries loudly when she realizes she’s alone in the flat (I take Ongina out for walks in the corridor), but she’s afraid of going out. I guess she’s still traumatised from being a street cat. 

Apricot loves playing with her feather toy, sleeping on the bed with us, and snuggling while watching Netflix. She loves to “help” me when I do my gardening. When we rescued Oswald Wineburger on June 30, Apricot immediately took him in as her own. She became his mother while he was with us.

Oswald and Apricot

MC: We rescued Oswald right before the heavy rains poured over the tree where we found him. It was supposed to be a quick bathe, feed, then release operation, but it rained non-stop. By the time the rain stopped, it would have been cruel to release him when he got accustomed to indoor living. 
 
Apricot herself was a trap-neuter-release project (when her captors decided not to release her, and give her up for adoption instead). In fact, she was pregnant when she got captured. The babies were aborted, but her motherly instincts remained. She immediately took Ossie under her wing, bathed him, played with him, and basically made him feel at home. We had him for nearly two months.

WF: Speaking of Oswald, how did you get into fostering cats?

MC: When I moved out into my own place (a studio-type unit), I realized I couldn’t keep too many cats inside, so that’s when I started fostering. I foster the cats that I would rescue myself. Oswald, who just got adopted recently, was a male kitten and LOVED to play. I had to tire him out before a client arrived, or else it would be a disaster.  

The bad thing about this though is how Ongina (and other cats before her like Cocoa) react to a new kitten in the house. Ongina needed to visit a vet because she got herself sick to protest the new cat. Because of this, I am unsure I can rescue/foster again unless I move to a bigger unit with more rooms.

Cocoa was everyone’s favorite grandpaw

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

MC: I remember the neighbourhood kids used to call Cocoa a monster. They weren’t used to cats of that breed, and because of Cocoa’s size and colour. They would yell to each other to run whenever they’d see him.

WF: Aside from Cocoa and Apricot, do you have other memorable rescue stories over the years?

MC: Back in 2015, I had an ectopic pregnancy. During this time, there was an outside cat we would feed, who was also pregnant. She eventually gave birth and became the best mother ever. Then I had my surgery, and when I came back from the hospital, mother cat was gone and abandoned her five kittens. We rescued all five of them, and this picture (below) shows Dennis feeding them with a syringe. I lost my baby, but the mother cat gave up hers to fill the void in my heart.

Feeding time with Dad

WF: How do you come up with unique names for your pets?

MC: Apricot was a name of a cat from Neko Atsume. When I played the game, I knew I wanted to name a cat Apricot someday. Locklear happened because I watched The Dirt. Pineapple was Dennis’s idea. Ongina is a Banana-Locklear, but she and Ongina seemed so different, so we decided to create a different kingdom, the Pineapple-Locklear kingdom.

Inspiration just hits me, and it’s usually food-related names and usually doesn’t match their actual fur color. Sometimes, it’s inspiration from an anime, series, or a Japanese boyband. Some examples include Cocoa Banana, Raspberry Brownie Banana, Strawberry Panty Sr., Raisin Bread, Jelly Pop, Tohoshinki Mango Kun/Tart, Ginger Toast, Cherry Lollipop, Chewie Yogurt, Belladandy, Sakorako, and Sakuragi.

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give to fellow animal owners?

MC: Research, ask, watch YouTube videos, and NEVER ASSUME. When in doubt, go to the vet!

WF: Why would you encourage adopting animals?

MC: For people thinking of adopting a rescue animal, I’d say give it a shot. Besides, most adoption centers will take the animal back in if it is a “wrong match.” There are so many animals in need of help. If we have the space and resources, it would mean the world to them to have a furever home. 

Personally, it was Cocoa Banana who helped me overcome my depression and anorexia many, many years ago (with the help of family and friends, of course!). Cats may be aloof and jerks, but when you are sad and lonely, they DO care.

To see more of Apricot, follow Michelle’s Instagram account.

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

Pet Adoption Tails: Chat Padla and Spike

Former preschool teacher Chat Padla is the proud paw-rent of two dogs. One fateful day in August, she came across an aspin [short for Asong Pinoy or Philippine dog] while taking her pooches out for their daily walk. Next thing she knew, she was walking home with a two-year-old stray dog in tow. Chat shares Read More...

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Former preschool teacher Chat Padla is the proud paw-rent of two dogs. One fateful day in August, she came across an aspin [short for Asong Pinoy or Philippine dog] while taking her pooches out for their daily walk. Next thing she knew, she was walking home with a two-year-old stray dog in tow. Chat shares Spike’s adoption story and how he became a happy domesticated pet. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you come to adopt Spike?

Chat Padla (CP): I was walking Jeter (my one-year-old Jack Russell) and Charlie (my one-year-old Beagle) around the neighbourhood park a few weeks ago. We came across Spike walking by himself just outside the park. My dogs were curious and so was he, so they started sniffing each other. 

Jeter can be walked off leash so I took off his leash, looped the leash, and tried to put it around Spike’s neck (it’s something I learned from watching Hope For Paws videos on YouTube. Hahaha!). It took me a few minutes because Spike kept dodging the leash, but he didn’t run away. When I finally got it around him, we took him home. 

WF: What were the initial challenges you had to face with Spike?

CP: Spike was pretty scared of everything at first. He didn’t want to come inside our building. He didn’t want to get inside the elevator. He didn’t know how to eat out of a food bowl. He didn’t know what dog beds were for. He cried a little on his first night with us (which I could only assume was because he wasn’t used to being inside), but he slept like a log that first night. I put him on the bed then he figured out that it was for resting. He slept through the noise of my dogs and the TV that first night. 

I took him to the vet the next day for his shots and to have him neutered. He stayed the night so the doctors could observe him. The next day, I took him home and he’s been with us since. Just recently though, I found out that our building only allows two pets per unit. So now he’ll be living with my parents.

Spike on the day he arrived and the day after his vet check-up (look at that smile!)

CP: Now, the challenge for us is how to discipline him. He’s actually a very good boy, and remarkably, he’s potty trained. However, he can get really rowdy and rough when he plays with the other dogs. Even if we call his name (he still doesn’t know that Spike is his name) or make a really loud noise, he’ll only stop for a second then continue playing. He and Charlie have had to be physically separated. 

Another challenge we’re currently facing is his habit of getting on the couch. He learned to jump on the couch because my dogs are allowed to do that in our house, but in my parents’ house, it’s not allowed. So now we’re trying to get him to unlearn that and have to transfer him to his bed instead when he tries to nap on the couch.

WF: Do you have previous experience with animals and/or pet rescue? How did this affect your decision to adopt him?

CP: I’ve never really personally adopted, but my parents have adopted pets before. They would be given unwanted puppies and they would raise them. The cats that would come inside their house would never leave anymore—they basically became pets too! My dad kind of believes that animals and pets bring luck. We’ve always had animals in the house ever since I was a kid. I don’t ever recall a time that we didn’t have at least one pet in the house. 

At the moment, my parents have a rescue dog named Riley. Spike’s been doing well at their place and playing with Riley almost exclusively.

WF: Before Spike moved in with your parents, how did your two dogs react to Spike living at home?

CP: Charlie and Jeter were pretty excited about having a new playmate. They were as much a part of the whole adoption story as I am. They were basically the reason that I got Spike. Another person who regularly walked his dog in the same area told me that the park guards have been trying to catch him for weeks, but he would keep running away. It was my dogs that attracted Spike to come to us. 

From day one, they’ve been playing and getting into trouble together. My dogs taught Spike how to be a dog. It was them that taught Spike how to eat and drink out of a bowl. (Spike used to drink from little puddles on the ground and it broke my heart!) They taught him how to play with toys, how to climb the couch, how to climb the bed—everything. It can be said that Spike was a better behaved boy before he met Charlie and Jeter. Now they like to get into all sorts of trouble like snatching socks from the hamper and kicking at the dog food box when they’re hungry.

The three rascals: Spike, Jeter, and Charlie

WF: What would you say makes Spike unique?

CP: He seems to be afraid of the rain, which is a problem when we have to go out for our walks. I get a little stressed because I know he’s holding his pee and poo in. He’ll happily go for walks when the ground is dry. But now that it’s been raining, we have to squeeze in their walks before it starts pouring.

As we go on our walks, I find it funny when some people recognize him and say how handsome he’s become. They would stop and I could hear them whispering, “Isn’t that the stray dog we saw last week? He looks so different!”

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

CP: Patience. You’re gonna need a lot of that. They’re gonna pee, poo, and break a lot of stuff (especially puppies) before you start seeing results. Be consistent when you train them for faster results. Food, love, and treats are the best for training, not punishment. Dogs naturally want to please you, so take advantage of that. 

All your pet really wants is love and attention. They don’t need fancy stuff. A piece of paper is just as fun as an expensive toy. They can sleep on an old towel just as long as they’re with you. Also, keep their vaccines up-to-date and have them checked regularly. It’s much cheaper than having to treat a disease that’s already progressed because of negligence.

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?

CP: There are so many unwanted animals that are suffering because they have no one to take care of them. There are so many animals in need that are in pounds or on the streets. There are also horror stories about irresponsible breeders who only really care about making money off of poor animals. The cycle has to stop. A pure-bred dog and one from a shelter can give you the same kind of love and happiness. 

My first-time animal adoption experience has shown me how big a difference having a home has made to how Spike behaves. He used to be so stiff and anxious all the time in our house. Now he’s more relaxed, at ease, and you could see that he’s actually happy. That, in turn, has made me so happy.

WF: How has your life changed after adopting a pet?

CP: There’s always a sense of fulfillment when you know you’ve made a difference, and seeing how happy he is now is kind of a drug for me. Haha!

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

Pet Adoption and Rescue Tails: Soleil Santos

Growth marketer Soleil Santos is a full-time cat mom to seven rescue cats! Five years ago, her life changed after she felt compelled to save and raise three helpless kittens who had just lost their mama. Soleil shares how welcoming these kittens opened her heart and changed her life forever. Waldo’s Friends (WF): We’ve been Read More...

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Soleil with Patchi

Growth marketer Soleil Santos is a full-time cat mom to seven rescue cats! Five years ago, her life changed after she felt compelled to save and raise three helpless kittens who had just lost their mama. Soleil shares how welcoming these kittens opened her heart and changed her life forever.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): We’ve been following your adventures with Rocco, Crookie, and Walter for a while! Tell us about how they came to live with you, about their mama cat, and how you felt when you found them as kittens in your garage!

Soleil Santos (SS): When they came into my life, I was still living with my family. One day, my brothers shared with me that they saw a mama cat in our garage with kittens. My family was not fond of animals. They saw them as pests. So my brothers and I decided to take care of the mama cat in secret. We figured we can feed her so that she can feed her babies. 

One day, the mama cat just disappeared. Our fear is that she got into an accident. Some people will say that she just left her kittens, but I honestly do not believe that. You should have seen how fierce she was when she thought we were going to take her kittens away. I do not know what happened, but there was a switch inside me and I decided that I will be responsible for them from then on.

This did not go well with my family. Some family members wanted to put them in a plastic bag to throw them away like trash. That was a defining moment for me. Like a crazy person, I started shouting and threatening that I will call the police if they dare lay a finger on them. I moved out of the family house right after the incident. It wasn’t all bad though because that moment changed my family as well. They were shocked that I could feel that way about animals. Slowly, my family’s outlook changed and they were able to view animals with compassion. Now, my family has two dogs who are so well loved.

Rocco, Crookie, and Walter

WF: What was the first thing you realised that you never considered/knew of before life with cats? And what kind of adjustments did you have to make to make room for your fur-babies?

SS: I do not know if I can enumerate all the ways my life changed/is still changing because of my cats. So many things have changed. One main thing though is that my cats made me understand myself better. I didn’t really know that I could love that much! They are my husband (Jay) and my core. 

One big change was our determination to get our own house. Jay and I do not ever want to have an encore of what happened in our family house. We want a safe place for the cats. Five years after adopting them, we were finally able to provide them a home that is ours! This may sound funny to other people, but the truth is we really worked hard so that we could provide a home for our cats.

WF: How did your kittens adjust to your house and lifestyle? And what kind of adjustments did you have to make to make room for your fur-babies?

SS: Our cats adjusted well. Since they were born in our garage (technically still inside a house), they were indoor cats from the get-go. In the beginning, the apartment we moved into was quite small, so we made sure that they had a lot of vertical spaces where they could jump to/chill at. 

In terms of our lifestyle adjustment, it was more of us adjusting to living with cats. It’s similar to having a human child⁠—you have to consider them in all aspects of your daily life. One funny change though is that our cats forced us to be tidier! We cannot continue being our messy selves for fear that they may accidentally eat something that we have left lying around.

WF: What’s your top advice for new cat parents?

SS: Read the book Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat—Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett. There’s a misconception that dogs and cats are quite similar and that we can take care of them in a similar way, but that is not correct. Cats have different needs and different ways of expressing themselves. When my cats were still kittens, I treated them like puppies. It was after reading this book that I found out how I could correctly take care of them.

WF: Tell us about your rescue and rehoming efforts. How do you manage to not keep adopting all the kittens you help re-home?

SS: Jay and I do not have any formal rescue center. We really are just two people trying to help animals we encounter. So far, we have been able to have five cats adopted and rehomed.

Our household though grew from three cats to seven cats. The additional four cats we have in our house right now are the cats we had trouble adopting out—some consider them unadoptable because of different challenges. For example, Patchi—our lovable black cat—was not socialised well and he used to bite people. This made it hard for us to have him adopted. Goguma, our other cat, did not have behavioral problems. However, he bonded with Patchi, and for some odd reason, he was able to socialize Patchi. Now Patchi is a well-adjusted cat who no longer bites!

WF: Could you tell us about any interactions with rescue shelters in your city? Are there any that you would recommend to any Waldo’s Friends readers from your neighbourhood?

SS: The shelters here in the Philippines like PAWS and CARA do not really accept rescues. Because the Philippines has an overwhelming population of strays, shelters are not able to accommodate every animal. What PAWS and CARA do is to empower individuals to help out in any way, like foster, organize trap-neuter-vaccinate-return efforts, and such.

Follow the adventures of Soleil and her meowsome family on Instagram.

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

Foster Paw-renting Tails: Jen Marder

Jen Marder is a licensed attorney living in Los Angeles, California. She has been fostering kittens for the past five years, and has taken in about 40 kittens to date! Jen shares how she got into kitten fostering, the challenges she has had to face, the fulfillment animal fostering brings, and why more people should Read More...

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Emily (from the Gilmore Girls litter) sitting on Jen’s shoulder

Jen Marder is a licensed attorney living in Los Angeles, California. She has been fostering kittens for the past five years, and has taken in about 40 kittens to date! Jen shares how she got into kitten fostering, the challenges she has had to face, the fulfillment animal fostering brings, and why more people should consider doing it. 

Waldo’s Friends (WF): What are the kind of animals you foster and how long do they usually stay with you?

Jen Marder (JM): I only foster kittens. I usually get them when they are just weaned, so approximately five weeks old, give or take a week. The one exception is if I get a pregnant mama; then they are here with me when they are born. They stay with me through vaccines and getting fixed and until they find their forever home. So the time they are with me really varies. I have fostered kittens as short as a couple of weeks and as long as four months. Other than that, I just take in whatever kitten is in need and welcome all breeds.

My husband and I live in a house where we have a spare bedroom and bathroom combo. That’s where the kittens are. I do most of the caring for the fosters, but foster dad helps out when I need to give medications and will spend time with the kittens to help socialise them.

WF: How did you get into fostering?

JM: A little more than five years ago, I had just lost my older cat to cancer. We also had a kitten at the time who was only a little more than a year old, and he was lonely without his buddy. We went to adoption events looking for a friend for him and I saw these two teeny tiny babies getting bottle fed at the event. I immediately fell in love and wanted them. They told me that they would be weaned in about a week, and at that time, I could foster to adopt them. I didn’t even know fostering existed before that! It was like a dream come true. 

So about a week later, I brought Simon and Lucy home and had my first foster experience. We did vaccines, testing, spay and neuter—all the things I do now as a foster. Then, about a year later, a plea went out for fosters and I took in my first real fosters. I had to take breaks over the next couple of years and would foster when I could, but with my new rescue, I have been able to have almost non-stop babies this last 12 months. I currently foster for a small local rescue called Wrenn Rescues. It is a small but incredible group of very caring individuals. We are all very supportive of each other.

Simon and Lucy were my first foster experience and taught me that fostering exists!

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

JM: I had a mama and her litter of six kittens! That was a lot, and as the kittens grew and got closer to adoption, my lap was VERY crowded! But because they had their mom, it actually wasn’t that bad!

Mama Christy had the most incredible eyes; four of her babies before their adoption; Christy and Moonlight were adopted together

WF: What do you love most about fostering kittens?

JM: I don’t know that I can pick just one, so these are my three favorites: 1) Seeing them happy, thriving, and growing, and knowing that I helped make that possible. 2) Seeing how happy each family is when they get to bring home their baby or babies. 3) Constantly being around cute and cuddly kittens!

WF: What would you say are the biggest challenges that come with fostering kittens?

JM: I try really hard to only take on what I can handle, and I think this answer depends on the litter, actually. Each group is different. I had one litter where we had to repeatedly deal with coccidia. I was constantly cleaning and trying to make sure they didn’t reinfect each other, so that was the hard part with them. However, they were all pre-adopted, so that was easy. I had another group where it took a long time to find them a home, so for them, finding the right family was the biggest challenge. I have also had challenges with scheduling when I had to figure out how to feed the fosters when I had to be gone for work. All of those things worked out, though. In fostering and rescue, you kind of have to always be on your toes, because the challenge isn’t always the same!

Tiny Tim came to me with a broken leg. We took care of him and it healed on its own!

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

JM: Once, I had two kittens who got to do a holiday Ross commercial and a short little spot on a scripted TV show! They were my little child actors! I also had one litter who didn’t quite understand eating, and all four of them would take a bath in their food bowls! They were so messy. It’s always funny when you think a kitten is one gender, and then you pick them up from getting fixed and find out that they are not the gender you thought. Other than that, it is just crazy daily kitten antics.

Nutmeg and Pumpkin were in a commercial and a TV show

WF: When it’s time to give away the foster, how easy or difficult is it for you? How do you deal and make yourself not too attached to your foster babies? 

JM: It really depends. I love them all, of course, but I do get more attached to some than to others, and those are a little harder to let go. I have also fostered failed once. That won’t be happening again because we are at our limit of what we can handle and afford in terms of resident cats. 

I think the biggest thing I do when I take them in is to recognize that they are not mine. I am just holding them and getting them ready for their forever family until they come along! For me, I need the closure of having a say, knowing where they are going, and being able to get updates and know that they are okay. That definitely helps letting them go for me. So I foster with a rescue that gives me that ability. Knowing that I have done a small part to help complete a family is definitely something that outweighs the temporary sadness of missing the kitten!

Then and now: Pumpkin during his first week in foster care and turning three this September (I’ve seen him twice since his adoption!)

JM: Also, knowing that the alternative to fostering can be the kittens dying on the streets or in shelters really helps take away the sting of my brief sadness of them not being with me. Honestly, knowing that I don’t have room to adopt any more cats also helps with not getting attached in that way. Of course, I love them all and I am attached, but not in the way that I want them to be here forever.

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

JM: I do! We have four wonderful kitties of our own. They don’t really love fosters, so thankfully I have a room where I keep the fosters and we can keep them all totally separate!

My resident cats (clockwise from top left): Nutmeg (my foster fail), Teddy, Lucy, and Simon

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

JM: There are a couple of tips I would give, and I think they are useful for both first-time and long-time foster parents to remember. First, make sure you only take on what you can handle. Anyone can foster, but everyone has different capabilities. For example, I can’t do bottle babies, so my rescue knows that I can only take kittens once they are weaned. It is important to tell your rescue or shelter what your abilities and needs are, so they can pair you with the right foster animal or animals that fit your lifestyle. If you are a first-time foster or a long-time foster and you aren’t happy with your rescue, make sure you find a rescue that works with your needs and abilities and ask them questions to make sure it is a good fit.

Second, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Fostering can be a lot of work and stressful, so we need to be able to ask for help when we need it and get support. That can even be advice and emotional support that isn’t local, thanks to social media. 

Lastly, trust your gut. That applies to the health of your kittens or cats, and it goes with finding adopters for your fosters!

WF: You have a hashtag #airplanekittens for the new set of kittens that you foster. How did you come up with the name for them? How are they as fosters so far?

JM: It is kind of funny how I came up with it. I have a book with theme ideas, but this one wasn’t in there! It was a couple days before I was going to get them and I was scrolling through Instagram and commented on a photo from one of my fellow fosters. Her kitten was being spunky, so I told her that she was being a little spitfire. About an hour later, the light bulb went off…I should name this group the Airplane Kittens and name them after old airplanes. My husband likes old airplanes, so I knew that the Spitfire was an airplane. He helped me come up with all the planes and assign each name!

The five airplanes – Mustang, Hurricane, Spitfire, Piper Cub, and Lightning – the day I brought them home!

JM: My experience with them has been amazing. They are all such good and perfect babies. They are super loving, affectionate, and sweet. I would say this is probably my favorite all around litter that I have ever fostered. They have been so easy, I get to just enjoy the fun and cuddles. A lot of that credit has to go to the bottle baby foster who had them before me, Ashley of @bruceandfoxfosters. She took care of them from about a week old and took them through until weaning, and then I took over.

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

JM: There are a lot of animals in need, and without foster care and adoption, even more animals would be dying on the street and in shelters. It is a great way to do something good for your community and for the lives of animals. The joy you get for yourself in being able to care for these tiny lives and being their buddy for a time is unmatched!

WF: How has your life changed after fostering?

JM: It is a lot fluffier! Seriously though, fosters and kittens bring me such joy, it keeps me calm through life. It also keeps me on my toes and even busier than I am already!

Follow Jen’s fostering adventures on Instagram.

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

Pet Adoption and Rescue Tails: Mads Lamanilao

Mads Lamanilao never imagined she would be the proud mama of 14 cats, all of whom she has rescued off the streets or adopted from others over the years. Though she is first and foremost a caring mother to her clowder, the Manila-based freelance producer is also an independent animal volunteer who tirelessly feeds community Read More...

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Mads and Chako

Mads Lamanilao never imagined she would be the proud mama of 14 cats, all of whom she has rescued off the streets or adopted from others over the years. Though she is first and foremost a caring mother to her clowder, the Manila-based freelance producer is also an independent animal volunteer who tirelessly feeds community cats and organises cat spaying and neutering programs with her husband, Gary.

Mads chats with Waldo’s Friends and shares how some of her delightful pets came into her life.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Mads! How many adopted pets do you have at the moment and how do you come up with names for them?

Mads Lamanilao (ML): At present, I have 11 rescues and three adoptees. They are Annie Cuddles La Aunor, Chako, Conchita, F1, Howl, Kiet, Ning Ning, Northwood, Prem, Som, Sharky, Sunee, Tinapa, and Yagi. 

When naming them, I usually wait for a few days to observe their personalities. Some names are based on my favorite characters or street names, while others are based on their looks. For example, Annie Cuddles La Aunor was named after orphan Annie (from the musical). My husband just wanted the word Cuddles attached to her name. La Aunor was added because of her mole-looking mark, similar to that of actress Nora Aunor.

Annie Cuddles La Aunor

WF: Could you talk about the first pet you ever adopted?

ML: My first cat adoptees would be Chatri and Sunee—Siamese twins that I adopted from a former student around six years ago. Chatri passed away last year because of FeLV (feline leukemia virus). Sunee is still alive and doing well despite having Chronic Kidney Disease. She had kidney failure before turning one year old, and her creatinine at that time was around 20 to 22 already. She fought hard and survived, thanks to Dok Melay of The Pet Project Veterinary Hospital. I’ve been administering subcutaneous fluid to her every day since then.

Chatri and Sunee when they were about six to seven months old

WF: With so many pets in your home ranging from two to nine years old, who would you say has the most unique adoption story so far?

ML: Chako would be my most unique adoption tale. Before Chukhdi (my first rescue) came into my life, my former neighbor Tanya Guerrero’s rescue cat, Chako, stalked me. She would wait for me to get back home even late at night. When I opened the gate, I would hear her scampering down from the roof to meet me at my door. At first, I did not really pay attention to her because I am actually allergic to cats. Chako would pester me to let her in. I did not know how to respond to her attention at that time because I never had my own pet dog or cat. Shortly after, Chukhdi, Chatri, Sunee, and Yagi came into the picture. That was when Chako started staying inside my house. She never left since. My twins Chatri and Sunee were enamored with her and followed her around the house. The three formed a special bond.

I also formed a special bond with Chako. When I moved out of my former house around four years ago, Tanya let me formally adopt Chako. Chako chose me and I am forever grateful for that. She is my soulmate and best friend. She constantly grooms me and always sleeps on top of my head at night. She is also the queen bee of the clowder.

The beautiful Chako

WF: You mentioned Chukhdi earlier. Could you share how you got into rescuing cats? 

ML: I rescued Chukhdi the night of April 3, 2013. It was all accidental. Our paths crossed while I was driving along C5. I spotted a scrawny kitten in the middle of the highway, hunched over and scared. I was clueless on how to take care of him. Tanya, who is an animal advocate and core member of CARA (Compassion And Responsibility For Animals) welfare group, guided and mentored me. I am grateful for her patience and for entrusting Chako to me. Because I have rescues, I have to be discerning when it comes to adopting cats.

Chukhdi the day after he got rescued and at five years old

WF: Were there any challenges or hardships that came with adopting or rescuing cats?

ML: One of the challenges with a new rescue or adoptee would be trying to make them get along with the present clowder. Another one would be where to isolate or quarantine the cat.

WF: How do you create a safe space in which the cats can all live together harmoniously?

ML: When we renovated our house, we made sure that there is enough space for them to roam around. We installed window ledges so they can look out. We also installed barriers around the house to keep the cats from going outside.

Spaces for the cats to enjoy

WF: What would you say makes your cats unique?

ML: All of my rescues and adoptees are unique. Each of them has a unique sound, habit, and pattern. Chako has an unusual habit. She loves coffee. If she had her way, she would drink it. She likes licking the surface where we prepare our coffee, but we all know that coffee is bad for cats. We make sure to keep it out of Chako’s reach and we always wipe down the surface where we prepare our coffee.

WF: Do you have any funny stories to share about your cats?

ML: One funny anecdote would be about Prem. She has a habit of going through our cabinets and hampers, bringing the stuff inside all the way down. One time, when we got home, our clothes, socks, and underwear were scattered on the ground floor. We had to close the walk-in closet and bathroom because it reached the point in which she brought down clean clothes, socks, and underwear.

Prem caught in the act

WF: What do you and your cats enjoy doing together?

ML: They enjoy hanging out with us. We noticed that they like staying close by. They also like playing with the laser light.

WF: You mentioned that you work as a freelance producer. What’s your work setup like at home?

ML: One advantage of doing freelance work is the flexible schedule. Because of the internet, I can work from home. Just so the cats won’t bother me while I am working, they are off limits in my work room. Actually, only the older ones are allowed to stay there because they usually just sleep and let me be. When things get hectic, my husband would take on my chores. He is awesome that way! He really loves our cats and even the community cats.

WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?

ML: There are many unwanted animals. We can do our part by opening our hearts and homes to them. When you give them a chance to blossom, they will give you so much love and affection.
 
Through rescuing and adopting cats, our lives have changed in so many ways. We had to adjust our lifestyle. Feeding the cats, cleaning the litter boxes, and cleaning the house have all become major parts of our daily routine. Also, my husband and I need to think twice before we can go out of town or out of the country. One of us usually has to stay behind to take care of the cats. Despite that, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We also made it our advocacy to feed and spay/neuter the cats in our neighborhood.

WF: How did you come up with the idea of feeding and spaying/neutering the cats in your neighborhood? How often do you do it?

ML: My husband and I feed the community cats twice a day. They usually go into our garage during meal times. We decided to feed them there because the neighbors’ dogs would get to their food. 

We were also able to spay/neuter several cats already. We seldom encounter kittens on our street unless they were left there. When there are new cats/kittens, we try to befriend them and when the right time comes, we send them to the veterinary clinic for spaying/neutering. After the procedure, we let them rest for a few days before releasing them back to the streets. We are hoping to spay/neuter more since we have some new candidates already. 

The first batch of community cats that Mads and Gary had spayed/neutered with the help of some people

WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners? What about to those with multiple pets like you?

ML: For first-time animal owners, just remember that it is a lifetime commitment to have pets. It is every pet owner’s responsibility to provide attention, nutrition, medical/health care, stimulation, and more. It’s a massive responsibility, so you need to think things over and assess your financial capabilities and lifestyle before adopting one. 

For multiple pet owners, just remember to also take care of your well-being and health. You gotta be in tip-top shape for your furbabies. Also, know when to stop taking in more pets. Animal hoarding is cruelty.

WF: Speaking of taking in more cats, any chance you’ll add more to the clowder soon?

ML: Right now we do not intend to add any more cats to the clowder. Our main priority would be the well-being of our present clowder and ours as well. We don’t actively rescue or adopt. People assume that just because we have rescues and a lot of cats that we’d willingly take in another one. Honestly, we’ve reached our limit. My husband and I are the ones doing all the household chores and taking care of the cats. We also have our day jobs, so our hands are full.

WF: How do you feel about being the mother of 14 cats?

ML: I can’t imagine my life without them. They’ve opened my heart and mind to so many things. We consider them our babies and look forward to growing old with them.

Mads serving snacks to some of her furbabies

Follow the adventures of cat mama Mads and her clowder on Instagram.

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

Pet Adoption Tails: Kylina Turner and Caro

Just three months ago, Kylina Turner came across an emaciated stray pup that got itself stuck in a wire bed frame. Thanks to the tireless care and attention provided by the local vet clinic and generous donations from GoFundMe, the sickly pooch transformed into a healthy and gentle 50-pound German Shepherd named Caro. This is Read More...

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Kylina and Caro

Just three months ago, Kylina Turner came across an emaciated stray pup that got itself stuck in a wire bed frame. Thanks to the tireless care and attention provided by the local vet clinic and generous donations from GoFundMe, the sickly pooch transformed into a healthy and gentle 50-pound German Shepherd named Caro. This is his adoption story.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Please tell us about how you found Caro and what went through your mind when you decided to help him that day.

Kylina Turner (KT): I found Caro when I was doing a property inspection for my work. He was a stray who had gotten tangled up in a bed frame on the side of a house. I initially thought he was a fake/stuffed coyote because he was so skinny and not moving whatsoever, but as soon as I got near him, I saw his ear twitch and was horrified that he was a live animal. I dropped what I was doing and immediately rushed him to the nearest vet because I was sure he wouldn’t live long enough to get to the shelter.

WF: How were the vets at the clinic that nursed Caro back to health? Could you tell us a bit about them and how they contributed to your pup’s full recovery?

KT: I rushed into the vet on the verge of tears and told them I had an extremely sick puppy. They immediately rushed Caro into the back and asked me how far they should go with treatment. It was clear he had a lot of issues that would require a lot of time and money to correct. I asked them to just make sure he was stable before I transported him to the shelter. Our shelters here are no-kill, which is the only reason I felt comfortable taking him in. 

The vet tech came back in about 10 minutes later and said they’d all fell in love with the puppy and would pool their money in order to keep him in the clinic and nurse him back to health. They evaluated him and diagnosed him with sarcoptic mange, which is incredibly contagious to both dogs and humans, sunburns, several intestinal parasites, and extreme malnutrition. He was estimated to be a six-month-old German Shepherd and should have weighed over 50 pounds, yet was only 18 pounds. The techs named him Freddie and got him stable before placing him in a kennel where he stayed for the next seven days to rest and heal. They weren’t sure he’d live until about day five or so. He was very inactive, only occasionally picking up his head to eat or drink and his skin was seeping from the wounds caused by the mange mites. He had to have frequent medicated baths, multiple small high-calorie meals a day, and medications to fight the internal parasites.

Caro on the road to recovery

WF: When you decided to foster Caro and first brought him home, how did your only child at that time, Casey, cope with it?

KT: I had no intention of taking this puppy home whatsoever, but after visiting him daily and following his progress, I couldn’t help thinking that he needed to have some special care. Fortunately, I work a very flexible schedule and thought I could provide that for him and foster him until he was better. So I started a GoFundMe and it was a huge success. I was able to raise over $1,300 which covered his weeklong stay at the vet as well as some of his follow-up appointments and medications.
 
On day seven, I took little Freddie home and we renamed him Caro. At this point, his skin was beginning to look a little better and he’d gained one pound. Our seven-year-old Golden Retriever mix Casey had other thoughts about having a new dog around the house. She was extremely irritable for almost a month about the new addition, constantly snapping at the puppy whenever he got too close, guarding all of her toys, and seeking extra attention from us constantly.
 
I believe Caro really learned a lot from this time though. He didn’t have any manners and since we knew he would get bigger than Casey, it wasn’t such a bad thing that she asserted her dominance while he was still small because now he wouldn’t ever think about trying to cross her or be the dominant one.

Caro and Casey striking a paws

WF: How did you arrive at the decision to adopt Caro and not give him up post foster care?

KT: I didn’t think I’d be adding Caro to the family permanently, but after only a couple days around Casey, he was glued to her hip and absolutely devastated anytime she was out of his sight. I couldn’t imagine breaking his heart by separating him from her. From being so small and malnourished, Caro became so full of life and energy, and his personality really started to flourish after a few days at home. He discovered squeaky toys and his voice and liked to use the two as often as possible because he knew it got him attention. He was also extremely calm and well-behaved when everyone else settled down. He wasn’t and still isn’t an affection seeking dog, but he is very loyal and has to follow us from room to room to lay at our feet but doesn’t bother us to get pet.

Caro with one of his toys

WF: What’s your biggest advice you can give to people interacting with sick and injured animals that need help?

KT: My best advice for people trying to interact with sick or injured animals is to be cautious and know that an injured animal can react in an aggressive manner when in pain or cornered. Luckily, Caro wouldn’t hurt a fly, literally (he thinks they’re fun new friends to play with), but so many other dogs that were in Caro’s position would definitely be inclined to bite or react negatively even to someone trying to help.

WF: How would you suggest an everyday person, who can’t adopt yet, help the animal rescue ecosystem to make an impact?

KT: Even if you can’t adopt or foster animals, a great way to help them out is to volunteer or donate to shelters/vets. I asked for anyone who couldn’t donate funds for Caro in GoFundMe to consider donating old dog beds or towels to his vet. Caro had to have his bedding washed daily⁠—separately due to the mange mites and that takes up a lot of resources. The vet was very thankful for these donations and several of the people who donated even got to see Caro at the vet, which they were really excited about.

WF: Could you tell us about Caro’s first interaction with a child? We read that he’s great with kids, but how did you prepare yourself for the very first time he met kids?

KT: Caro is simply an anomaly. Based on his past, he should be fearful of humans, dogs, and really just everything, yet he is the absolute sweetest dog. He’s always submissive around other dogs, never barks at anyone, and hasn’t shown the slightest bit of aggression ever. He even loves going to the vet.
 
He especially loves children and is so gentle with them. He met his very first child at a family get-together, and while I was timid about it, it was very obvious there was nothing to worry about. Caro was incredibly sweet and gentle with the children and was quickly playing tag around the yard with them before laying down for a nap with his head on a child’s lap. I was definitely relieved that he had such a good reaction. I hope we can make some progress to help break the stereotypes out there surrounding “bully breeds,” and I think this is an important step for Caro to do that.

WF: We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about platforms like Gofundme.com, and how they help causes such as Caro’s.

KT: I am so lucky that GoFundMe exists. There’s absolutely no way I would have been able to afford Caro’s vet care on my own. It was absolutely a game changer for not only Caro, but us too⁠—without that we wouldn’t have been able to bring Caro into our family. One of the vet techs or vets that I brought him to likely would have adopted him, and while he would have obviously had a great life with any of them, I can’t imagine not having this goofy puppy in our family now.

Caro looking so much better after just three months of being cared for and finding a home

Follow the adventures of Caro on Instagram.

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

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