✦ Pets. What would we do without them? Companions, sources of comfort, of amusement, of total unabated love and loyalty, they are an integral part of millions of families and people’s lives all over the world.
So, just as Mothers and Fathers have their special day and romantics get to express their warm glow of affection on February 14th each year, it seems fitting that our beloved dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, fish, cows, pigs, iguanas and whatever else have their own special day each year!
That’s right, February 20th is “National Love Your Pet Day”, a chance to show your pets some extra love and undivided attention. Maybe dish out some extra treats at dinner time, take them for an extra long walk, give them an extended brush or just give them some extra special love and affection. Its a day to make them realise just how much we love them and how important they are to us. Even if you don’t have pets you can still choose to demonstrate an act of kindness by making a donation to an animal shelter or charity, if you so choose.
From a personal perspective I have always been surrounded by pets. From as far back as I remember, our family house always had dogs and cats scampering around to the extent they were exactly that: part of the family. Over the years, despite living and working in several different countries and continents, I have continued this trend of having a furry companion or two with me in most places I go.
Cheeky Little Kitten
The latest members of our pet family are two cats that my partner Lara and I rescued from the streets of Singapore, called Gus and Chester. However, there is more to the story than that and we need to go back a little further for the full context.
My partner and I lived in the Lion City for many years and were made aware of a fine animal charity initiative called The Cat Museum, Muses and Mansion that rescues felines from the danger of the streets and provides not only the protection and safety of a temporary home but an opportunity for people to visit and adopt. It also places a significant focus on educating children by providing a safe, fun environment for them to learn about how to interact with and handle cats.
We visited frequently and it wasn’t long before a cheeky little kitten called Gus caught our attention. A whirl of energy, he would charge around the room playing with the other kittens before crashing out for a much needed rest. It was during these times that we got chance to play with him, to cuddle him and to form what was clearly going to be an unpenetrable bond. We decided to adopt him almost immediately.
However, there was also another fine specimen that caught our attention, a three-year-old of such elegance and grace that it was impossible not to fall in love with him straight away. Zorro was so named due to the black mask like colouring on his otherwise white face and was such a gentle, patient, calm soul that he was an obvious companion to counter-balance the younger, effervescent Gus.
So, home they came with us where they immediately settled and enjoyed long lazy afternoons dozing in sunlit windows, hours of play and snuggly cuddles and lots of yummy treats such as tuna and boiled chicken! Being on the ninth floor of a condo in the densely populated island state, they obviously were not allowed outside but that suited them fine as they peered out of the ceiling to floor windows at the world below them.
When Gus was around six months old we entered him into a “Cat of the Year” contest organised on Twitter by the popular English comedian Bob Mortimer. Much to our delight Gus won the “Kitten of the Year” category and received a host of wonderful comments of congratulations from all over the world, none more so than Bob himself who labelled “the young lad” as “superb!” It was a proud moment and Gus’ personalised, limited edition hand-crafted art picture signed by Bob now hangs in a place of prominence in our study!
However, after a high often comes a fall and, tragically, after less than a year Zorro developed an illness. He was kept at the vets for over a week as they desperately tried to battle against his failing kidneys. We visited him everyday for hours on end, lying next to his cage and trying to offer as much comfort and love as we could. Despite his condition and surroundings he never complained and all the nurses fell in love with him. We were allowed to take him home for one final night where we set up a bed for us all in the lounge and slept together. Gus was overjoyed to see his older adopted brother after time apart.
The next day we returned to the vet and had to take the heart-wrenching decision to have our beloved boy put to sleep. We both wept and held his paws as the vet administered the injection and we watched him go to sleep for a final time. The vet wept too, as did all the nurses, such was the impression brave little Zorro made on them.
It was one of the saddest experiences I have ever encountered and we were both rocked to the core. Being home without him was a strange sensation and his absence was felt with huge lament. Gus was beside himself and took to standing by the front door meowing as if waiting and calling out for his brother.
It did not take us long to realise that we needed a new companion for Gus and within a week had adopted a cute little ginger, white and brown curiousity called Chester from a kind woman who fostered cats at her home.
Initially very tentative, three-month old Chester soon came to settle in his new surroundings with his new family. He and Gus got along famously, grooming one another, sharing spaces and cuddling up to sleep together. While Zorro would not be forgotten, it was heart-warmingly reassuring to have a new addition who fast became Gus’ best friend.
After a few years we decided to move to Phuket, Thailand. While initially concerned on how the relocation (specifically the plane journey) would have on the cats we realised there was no option of separation and therefore made the plunge. It was certainly an adventure for them as they were packed into their carry cases and loaded onto the aircraft before making the 90-minute flight. Admittedly a little rattled for the first day or so, they quickly settled into their new surroundings and life on the island. They are still kept inside as the array of resident wildlife in Phuket isn’t something we would trust two such innocent and curious creatures with!
We’ve moved house on our island paradise several times and each one has been a new adventure for Gus and Chester, a new place with new smells and areas to investigate. They are part of our ongoing adventure and we wouldn’t have it any other way. They are key members of our family and provide countless hours of fun, humour and affection. After a particularly hectic day they both provide the perfect channel for release and decompression – they say stroking a cat can reduce stress and anxiety and we are both firm advocates of that theory. We honestly don’t know what we would do without them.
While “National Love Your Pet Day” is an admirable initiative, we choose to express our love, respect and admiration for the entire 365 days of the year, something that is firmly reciprocated by our two little furry forever friends!
So, whatever your pet may be, make sure you show just how much they mean to you on their special day of February 20th this year as they’re more than worth it!
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