Growth marketer Soleil Santos is a full-time cat mom to seven rescue cats! Five years ago, her life changed after she felt compelled to save and raise three helpless kittens who had just lost their mama. Soleil shares how welcoming these kittens opened her heart and changed her life forever.
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Waldo’s Friends (WF): We’ve been following your adventures with Rocco, Crookie, and Walter for a while! Tell us about how they came to live with you, about their mama cat, and how you felt when you found them as kittens in your garage!
Soleil Santos (SS): When they came into my life, I was still living with my family. One day, my brothers shared with me that they saw a mama cat in our garage with kittens. My family was not fond of animals. They saw them as pests. So my brothers and I decided to take care of the mama cat in secret. We figured we can feed her so that she can feed her babies.
One day, the mama cat just disappeared. Our fear is that she got into an accident. Some people will say that she just left her kittens, but I honestly do not believe that. You should have seen how fierce she was when she thought we were going to take her kittens away. I do not know what happened, but there was a switch inside me and I decided that I will be responsible for them from then on.
This did not go well with my family. Some family members wanted to put them in a plastic bag to throw them away like trash. That was a defining moment for me. Like a crazy person, I started shouting and threatening that I will call the police if they dare lay a finger on them. I moved out of the family house right after the incident. It wasn’t all bad though because that moment changed my family as well. They were shocked that I could feel that way about animals. Slowly, my family’s outlook changed and they were able to view animals with compassion. Now, my family has two dogs who are so well loved.
WF: What was the first thing you realised that you never considered/knew of before life with cats? And what kind of adjustments did you have to make to make room for your fur-babies?
SS: I do not know if I can enumerate all the ways my life changed/is still changing because of my cats. So many things have changed. One main thing though is that my cats made me understand myself better. I didn’t really know that I could love that much! They are my husband (Jay) and my core.
One big change was our determination to get our own house. Jay and I do not ever want to have an encore of what happened in our family house. We want a safe place for the cats. Five years after adopting them, we were finally able to provide them a home that is ours! This may sound funny to other people, but the truth is we really worked hard so that we could provide a home for our cats.
WF: How did your kittens adjust to your house and lifestyle? And what kind of adjustments did you have to make to make room for your fur-babies?
SS: Our cats adjusted well. Since they were born in our garage (technically still inside a house), they were indoor cats from the get-go. In the beginning, the apartment we moved into was quite small, so we made sure that they had a lot of vertical spaces where they could jump to/chill at.
In terms of our lifestyle adjustment, it was more of us adjusting to living with cats. It’s similar to having a human child—you have to consider them in all aspects of your daily life. One funny change though is that our cats forced us to be tidier! We cannot continue being our messy selves for fear that they may accidentally eat something that we have left lying around.
WF: What’s your top advice for new cat parents?
SS: Read the book Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat—Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett. There’s a misconception that dogs and cats are quite similar and that we can take care of them in a similar way, but that is not correct. Cats have different needs and different ways of expressing themselves. When my cats were still kittens, I treated them like puppies. It was after reading this book that I found out how I could correctly take care of them.
WF: Tell us about your rescue and rehoming efforts. How do you manage to not keep adopting all the kittens you help re-home?
SS: Jay and I do not have any formal rescue center. We really are just two people trying to help animals we encounter. So far, we have been able to have five cats adopted and rehomed.
Our household though grew from three cats to seven cats. The additional four cats we have in our house right now are the cats we had trouble adopting out—some consider them unadoptable because of different challenges. For example, Patchi—our lovable black cat—was not socialised well and he used to bite people. This made it hard for us to have him adopted. Goguma, our other cat, did not have behavioral problems. However, he bonded with Patchi, and for some odd reason, he was able to socialize Patchi. Now Patchi is a well-adjusted cat who no longer bites!
WF: Could you tell us about any interactions with rescue shelters in your city? Are there any that you would recommend to any Waldo’s Friends readers from your neighbourhood?
SS: The shelters here in the Philippines like PAWS and CARA do not really accept rescues. Because the Philippines has an overwhelming population of strays, shelters are not able to accommodate every animal. What PAWS and CARA do is to empower individuals to help out in any way, like foster, organize trap-neuter-vaccinate-return efforts, and such.
Follow the adventures of Soleil and her meowsome family on Instagram.
Read more rescue stories here! Do you know of an interesting pet adoption, foster, or rescue story? Share your suggestion with us by commenting below!