Passions and Obsessions

I met my soon-to-be first cat (I hope) at the PAWS Valentine event

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Love is in the air: The author and the charming tripod cat Ginger

Full disclosure: At (almost) age 60, I’ve given up on the whole chocolates-and-flowers Valentine’s shebang that used to possess us as young girls in search of Mr. Right (who, let me tell you, doesn’t really exist—well, not as you’d imagine him, girls). So for the second time—I had a fun time a couple of years ago—I signed up for the fifth edition of the annual Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) “Furst Date” event at the PAWS shelter in Quezon City, very near my home.

For P750, you get to spend half an hour cuddling a dog or cat of your choice, have a drink (including good brewed coffee) and a snack, and even leave with a mug as a souvenir. (You can still sign up for slots scheduled until Saturday, Feb. 17, plus a donors’ event on Monday the 19th.) PAWS has set up the cutest airconditioned “date” area with cushions, adorable backdrops, and even a meal and treats for your chosen date, and the money goes to one of the best causes around, helping animals in need. The agenda, of course, is to raise funds or—the best case scenario—you are so smitten with your date that you take him/her home.

I had an ulterior motive, as well, however. Blame it on my househelp, Yaya Dang, who is a wonderful guardian for my three rescued asPins, Kiko, Frankie, and Sergio; Sergio is actually her dog, but they are all “siblings” who have the run of our house. You see, Dang’s son, Ronnel, has a dog and a cat who co-exist peacefully. So do my other friends, including Dana and our late pal Ouie, whose pusPin had a Rottweiler for a sibling. Naturally, I got jealous and curious, despite having zero experience and considerable trepidation around cats. Once, I had visited the shelter, and had gotten swiped at by the recently deceased but much-missed Boss Cat at the PAWS office, the ultimate feline with attitude, Fleur. So I honestly wouldn’t know the first thing to do with a cat.

PAWS’ Anna Cabrera with other “daters,” Aiko with shelter dog Pumi (right) and Danielle with shelter dog Clay

So, my friends at PAWS, including dynamic boss lady Anna Cabrera (who was still Fleur’s subordinate, though), were probably surprised that this avowed dog person requested a cat for a date. When I showed up early for my 11:15 am slot last Feb. 13, I wasn’t the only one there, but it still worked very well. The volunteers gave me a choice of date, but I told them to pick for me and informed them of my clumsiness around the creatures.

I got a cup of coffee, some Spanish bread from Pan de Manila, and a bowl of goodies and a treat for my cat. My chosen gentleman was a gorgeous speckled fellow named Rock, who was kept on a short leash; the volunteers, including very helpful cat ladies Tina and Tanya, had already chosen the most sociable animals, but like every, uhm, date, you do have to go slow and easy. Rock was sweet and gorgeous, but like I joked, he probably figured out I was an impostor and smelled like a dog; after a few peaceful minutes, he got restless and frisky, probably because of some dogs in neighboring booths.

Then, Anna blurted out, “You want to meet Ginger our tripod?” The cat had lost its right hind leg after being run over by a car, but had been nursed back to health after being rescued and surrendered to PAWS.

I was in love the minute the three-legged Ginger was put in my arms. He was like a rag doll, lying almost limp and relaxed. He allowed me to kiss his tiny head—which takes some getting used to when you’re accustomed to nuzzling dogs 13 kg and above—and even kissed back, gently playbiting. (Plus, confirmation: I am not allergic to cats.) Next thing I knew, he was kneading me with his two front paws, something they do, I was told, to show affection or actually mark you (possessive agad?!!), since cats have scent pads in their feet. I gently scratched between his eyes and massaged his head, like I do with my dogs, and he purred and closed his eyes in contentment. Pardon my French, but I was screwed.

At a virtual beach for a date are Marie and shelter dog Ti Amo, rescued by PAWS from near death.

Here’s some good news. PAWS actually does allow some potential adopters to test-foster an animal, seeing how things go if there are already existing animals in the adopters’ homes. It’s a way also to ensure that unsuccessful adoptions don’t end up with the animal abandoned, but returned to the shelter—although that is, of course, the least preferred option. Be ready to fill up forms, answer questions, and subject yourself to some evaluation; PAWS just wants to be sure you are ready and able to give an abandoned animal a furever home.

I was realistic; I asked Anna to give me time to finish a very hectic project and complete a scheduled trip, and I would be back after Holy Week to get Ginger. I am beyond excited, and praying (as always) to St. Francis for a smooth transition. I also need to prepare for our first cat; I don’t even know the first thing about cat litters and food! But I’m putting this out here now, because I am committed. I’m giving Ginger a home, a willing yaya, and three rowdy siblings; I’m still figuring out a good name.

What do you know. This furmama may have just found love again at an animal shelter—albeit of a different species!

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About author


She is a writer, editor, breast cancer and depression survivor, environmental advocate, dog mother to three asPins, Iyengar yoga instructor and BTS Army Tita. She edits part-time for a broadsheet, but is headed towards a full-time vocation as an online English writing coach and grammar nazi.

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