by Rowena David
“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you. I loved you so- ’twas Heaven here with you.” – Isla Paschal Richardson
Fostering rescued cats is a fulfilling experience. You get to watch them transform from ugly ducks to gorgeous swans. But sadly, not all rescued cats survive due to severe injury or serious illness. Losing a foster cat can be traumatic, and even if you’re no stranger to the sight of a dying cat, it is always a heartbreaking sight to see. I would like to share some life lessons that rescued cats have taught me over the years.
1. Have the courage to trust again
Most stray cats are aloof and distrustful of people. They avoid human interaction at all costs. Try to capture them, and you will end up with scratches on your arms and face. This is because they have had negative or traumatic encounters with humans. Teaching them to trust people again takes time, effort, and patience but it will be worth it. I am always amazed to see how an abused cat who hisses at me every time I open his cage could turn into an affectionate cat a few weeks later. Stray cats just need to see and feel that not all humans are cruel, so they will have the courage to trust us again.
Some of us have trust issues because we have been let down by people in the past. As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It takes courage to realize that a bad experience with certain people does not mean that all people are bad. By having the courage to trust people again, we are opening up ourselves to positive experiences.
2. Not getting what you want is good for you
Rescued cats, especially those who are injured, are put in the cage for their own safety. They stay in the cage until they regain their strength or until their injury is healed. Most rescued cats do not understand this, so they attempt to get out of their cage.
Sometimes, the reason we do not get what we want is that it might not be what is best for us at the moment. There is a perfect time and place for everything. We have to trust the process. We will be given what we asked for when we are ready, not before.
3. Adversity makes you stronger
The life of stray cats is very challenging. They have no shelter to protect them from harsh weather, they have to constantly fight for their food, and they have no one to take care of them. And yet despite all that, or maybe because of that, they have a well-developed survival instinct. Although the lifespan of stray animals is shorter compared to animals who have homes, we can learn a thing or two from their resilience.
Dealing with difficult situations can be daunting, but it teaches us to bounce back from a crisis. Furthermore, hardship has a way of changing our awareness. It makes us more emphatic and kinder towards others. What does not kill us will make us stronger.
4. Everyone deserves a second chance
I sometimes hear people say, “It’s just a stray cat, it’s not important.” This is far from the truth. Every stray cat deserves a second chance to live a good life. When I look at the “before” and “after” photos of my foster cats, it is sometimes hard to believe that I am looking at the same cats. In the “after” photo, cats look so happy and healthy. Rescued cats would not be living a comfortable life if someone had not taken the time to rescue and nurture them.
Helping another human being is never a waste of time and effort. The feeling of fulfillment when we know we have helped a fellow human being is priceless.
5. Learn to let go
There are instances when a rescued kitten that you have been fostering for days did not make it despite your round-the-clock care. It happens especially if the kitten’s immune system was too weak. While it is easy to indulge in self-blame and in entertaining the thought that maybe you could have done more, in the end, you have to accept the fact that there are things beyond your control. Allow yourself to grieve and be comforted in the knowledge the kitten was cared for and loved during his last days.
Our pets who have already crossed the rainbow bridge will never be forgotten. Their memory stays in our hearts until we meet them again someday.
About the author: Rowena David is faculty member at College of Computer Science in the University of Makati, is a freelance writer (Tagalog short novels), admin of Philippine Pet Lovers Society Facebook page, an animal rescuer and animal welfare advocate.
This article also appears in the Manila Standard
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