Yesterday, I came home from work to find Nikki’s now dried-out breakfast still in her bowl. She had only eaten half, maybe less of her breakfast and now it was time for dinner. Since her breakfast had been sitting out all day and probably had spoilt, I threw it out.
My cats don’t know how good they have it, having a roof over their heads, warm blankets to sleep on, clean, fresh water and of course, never knowing what it’s like to starve like so many stray cats out there.
We have a lot of stray cats here, in Toronto. But we also have a lot of cat rescue organizations who take them in and try to find forever homes for them. There are also kind people out there who may not be able to adopt them, but will feed them whenever they can.
Contrast this to the stray cats in Jakarta, Indonesia, where hubby and I spent almost a month this past summer. What I learned, is that people hate cats in Jakarta. Cats are viewed as dirty, evil pests that carry diseases. The cats there will steal food when there’s an opportunity to do so. They won’t hesitate to snatch food off the table and run off with it into the streets. They hover around peoples’ homes hoping that the owner of the home would be kind enough to feed them. But they never get fed, instead, they get shooed away. They are hated animals.
Being a cat lover, seeing how they are treated there saddens me. To me, these cats are just trying to survive. They’re much skinnier and smaller than the cats in Canada, evident of their malnourishment and lack of love.
My very first encounter with a cat was when my family and I still lived in Indonesia. While I grew up with dogs, it was this white cat who came around every day who stole my heart. We fed her daily and even let her in the house, to the horror of our maid at the time. She, like most people in Jakarta, hated cats. We named the cat “Bule”, which is a term used for “white skin”. She ended up giving birth to three of the cutest kittens.
One day, Bule caught a mouse in our house. A mouse in Jakarta is really the size of a rat here. Big and nasty, not like one of those cute ones you see at the pet store here. Bule had the mouse in her mouth, and our maid freaked out. She took a broom and started hitting Bule with it, calling her names, despite my pleads to stop. Bule ran out of the house. She came home hours later looking extremely sad. I was too young then to know any better, but now that I think about it, she may have been in a lot of pain. Since this was now night time, we had the front door closed. She begged for us let her out, and we did. I still remember her walking out that door as if her spirits had been lifted out of her. She walked so slowly, so painfully. I told her I loved her as I watched her walk away, thinking that she would come back later, like she did every day. But this time, she never came back and I lost Bule forever.
As I fed Nikki and Puzzle their dinner last night, I threatened them, “If you don’t eat all your food I’m going to ship you to Indonesia.” Of course, I was joking. I won’t even let them out of the home for fear they might get hurt or lost and never find their way back to me, let alone ship them to another country where they’ll end up being hated and chased away.
So to Nikki and Puzzle, and other indoor cats out there – please eat all your food and stop being so picky!
On a more serious note, this is more of a reminder for me of how blessed I truly am. I’m guilty of having wasted food myself, many times over. I’m guilty of taking my life for granted. But just like Nikki and Puzzle, I have a roof over my head, I’ve never had to beg for food and I don’t know what it’s like to starve constantly. I am thankful for what I have.
Happy thanksgiving everyone!