Animals, too, have the right to live without pain

Pet cat

What do you do in case you lose your pet?

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

Before bringing her home, I envisioned us lazing outside the house in the evenings. 

I have tried to keep another cat after Zora, but the experience with her was a wound that is yet heal.

Early 2019, I came across a Facebook post made by a young woman who was giving up her cat for adoption. She was moving countries and couldn’t take her along. Her family had distanced themselves from taking care of her.

I reached out and next day, the cat was home.

I don’t remember the name they’d given her but I christened her Zora. Just like we mostly do when we are meeting other humans for the first time, I was intent on making a good impression. I had bought her some canned tuna fish, poured it a love shaped bowl and turned my favourite basin into her litter box.

Two things happened when I got her out of the cat carrier. One, she didn’t touch the food and two, like one who knew around my house, she ran and hid in one of the kitchen cabinets. 

For weeks, she remained unseen. Only getting out to feed and use the litter box when there was no one in sight, and her movements — stealth. 

Later and on rare occasions, she’d get out of her hideout, stare at me from a safe distance then go back should our eyes meet.

Her hiding place

While this was happening, I was trying to win her over by refilling the food bowl and frequently emptying the litter box. I also sought advice from other cat keepers and the shelter she previously lived. They told me that I needed to give her time.

“She’ll come around,” they encouraged me.

I waited.

On some evenings, I would near her hiding place and just sit there hoping that she’d see I was making some efforts and I wanted us to build camaraderie. That, plus my stretching my hand out to her didn’t work.

This continued for months. Us sharing a house but not time.

Before bringing her home, I envisioned us lazing outside the house in the evenings. Her eyes on the birds and insects ( I wouldn’t allow her to hunt them, though) and mine on the sunset. 

In the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of people keeping pets in the city. Groups have been created for cat lovers and these individuals frequently share the photos on the social media platforms. Even though I was brought up in a home that always had a cat, I hadn’t thought of keeping one in the city until social media happened.

With Zora by my side, I would join the camp. I was elated. 

Gone for good

But, she was not for it or at least willing to try. Have you ever heard a human having a self talk because their pet was driving them crazy? I did. Many times.

One day, I came home to find out that she had escaped through one of the windows. I was angry, frustrated and mostly scared for her. I searched everywhere, asked anyone from the neighbourhood who cared to listen, made posters, stood around butcheries in my precinct but nothing.

She was gone. For good.

There are days I go back to the months that we spent together. I wonder what could have happened to her that she didn’t trust human beings. Who hurt her?

I have tried to keep another cat after Zora, but the experience with her was a wound that is yet heal. Maybe I could have done better with her. And you, should stop hurting animals too.

On Sunday next week, we will be marking World Trauma Day. This, isn’t for human beings only. Even animals suffer trauma.

Caroline Njunge’s column resumes next week

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