The idea of rescuing animals is close to my heart. One of our pets is an animal we rescued from a boat in Batangas: our very own spitfire, Aras.
I’ve written a lot about my other pets, but very little about our domestic cat, Aras. Maybe because I’m not really very close to him, in fact, I’m a little afraid of him, mostly because he’s the most unpredictable of all my pets, behavior-wise. Maybe because of his history, he’s always been a bit of a wildcat, never really losing that feral quality despite living a cushy, domesticated life with us all his life. But I get ahead of myself. Years ago, we were in Maricaban island in Batangas, and on our way home, we rode this tiny banca, when we suddenly saw 3 teeny-tiny kittens cowering in one corner of the small watercraft. They were soaking wet and shivering, so we asked what those kitties were doing in a boat. To our horror, the boatmen said that they were going to throw them overboard once they’re in deep waters. They explained that they didn’t have anything to feed them, and that is how they usually dispose of unwanted kittens. We convinced them to just put them on land on the other side, where we were going down; at least they have a fighting chance on land, than in the middle of the Mindoro channel. When the kitties were safely on land, I didn’t have the heart to just leave them, but at the same time, I knew I didn’t have the resources to keep all three. So snap decision, I decided to adopt one. In hindsight, I should’ve taken all three and brought them to PAWS or some other animal shelter. But my mind was swimming at the time, stressed about a decision we had to make in minutes. And so was re-written the fate of one cat, Aras, named after the winner of the TV show Survivor at the time, since the term “survivor” fits this animal like a hand in glove. These were the first few pics of the scrawny Aras we ever took:
We had to put newspapers on the car because he was pretty much infected with fleas and heaven knows what other parasites, so he rode to his new home on the floor, not allowed on the seats. We took him straight to the vet, had his shots, got rid of the fleas, and took him home. By that time, we had two cats already, Duke and Isis. As expected, the two hated the newcomer, hissing at the very sight of him. As the weeks passed, they eventually warmed up to him, although Duke, I guess because they were both males, never really grew close to him. Duke was always wary of Aras.
He got equal treatment as the two award-winning purebreds, ate the same food, had the same sleeping quarters, got the same shots and vitamins, and he got spayed like the other two as well. I guess he was a lucky one. But like I said, he always retained his wild qualities. I never grew close to him because he is easily spooked, even now, long after he’s been living the life. When he gets spooked, he really freaks out, and he’ll scratch and bite and go crazy until he calms down. Once he’s calm, he’s back to the old lovable, gentle cat that he is.
It’s so cute because everytime Aras goes berserk, Duke instantly runs to our rescue! He’ll charge Aras and they’ll tussle until the alpha male, Duke, subdues the smaller Aras. It’s so weird! I never thought cats went to the rescue of their humans until I’ve seen it happen many times. To be honest, there were times I wanted to give up and give Aras up. I just wasn’t used to wild, aggressive pets because ALL my other pets are such sweethearts. I was tempted many time to have him adopted at an animal shelter like PAWS, but giving him up was like giving away your own child. So difficult as he might be at times, I’m sticking by my little hellion. He’s only like this because he learned fear from traumatic experiences. But one thing I cannot deny, is that he’s a loving cat with a big heart.
But Aras has had his shining moments as well. In many cat shows, he would even bring home more ribbons and awards than either Duke or Isis! He’s a crowd favorite because he’s really friendly and welcomes being touched. Of course we’re there to make sure he doesn’t get spooked so he doesn’t scratch anyone there. His awards may not be as prestigious as the other two, but they’re a testament to the power of animal adoption. How we can make a HUGE difference in the life of even just one animal. I still get pangs of guilt over leaving the other two kitties to certain doom, but I take comfort in the idea that if I couldn’t save three, at least I saved one. It’s one less dead unwanted animal. So in case you want a pet cat or dog, nothing wrong with getting a purebreed from a respected breeder, but also try to explore the idea of adopting an animal. You might end up like the lucky few who found a lifetime’s treasure among the countless homeless animals that walk our streets; animals looking for a little love in a harsh uncaring environment.