Bebeth Timbol currently has her hands full caring for three adopted cats: two-year-old Astrid, and one-year-old twins, Zazu and Simba. The Manila-based PR and marketing manager shares how living with these three furballs changed her life completely.
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Waldo’s Friends (WF): Prior to adopting your cats, did you have any previous experience with animals?
Bebeth Timbol (BT): I’ve always had dogs and cats growing up, and for the most part, the dogs were several generations of the same family. In terms of adopting pets, it would have to be our three cats when we were in grade school who we named after the cartoon characters Garfield, Nermal, and Arlene. Garfield and Nermal were found outside the house, while Arlene was a cat who was hanging around there. One day, we gave her food and she decided to stay.
I had heard about people adopting cats and dogs from shelters before and kept thinking to myself maybe one day. I would see kittens on the side of the street and would just walk past them ‘cause I didn’t know what I would do with them. I did try to feed some stray cats, but that was it. My mom kept saying she wanted to have cats again, so I knew we would adopt at some point. But that we would get our first cat by rescuing it was the last thing I expected.
WF: How did you come to adopt Astrid?
BT: It was late January 2017. I was walking home when I heard a kitten meowing on the sidewalk. I kept walking, but I could still hear her meowing. I turned to find her following me. Something told me to go and pick her up. The problem was I only had my tiny handbag with me. I had no choice but to take my wallet, phone, and keys out of my bag and put her in. Astrid fell asleep right away ‘cause she was quiet and I felt purring as I made my way home.
When we got to the house, I poured her out of my bag, to my mom’s surprise. Good thing we had cat food and litter sand at home ‘cause my brother was supposed to give us a cat. We quickly brought out whatever cat food we had, and she (literally) gobbled it all up even if it was hard adult cat food. She was so tiny, with spindly little legs, and weighed less than half a kilo.
For her first night at home, we brought out a little basket for her to use as a bed and placed it by her food bowls. When we woke up the next morning to check on her, we couldn’t find her anywhere… until we checked the basket. Somehow, she knew that was meant to be her bed ‘cause she was snuggled cosily in one corner. It’s like she knew she was somewhere safe. From there, she started sleeping in my mom’s La-Z-Boy, fleas and all. Haha! We also learned that Astrid loved to eat and drink milk. After meal time, she looked like a walking ball with legs. It was a week before we could bring her to the vet, but thankfully, she checked out all clear. The vet said she was about two and a half months old at the time.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if we could handle having a kitten at home, especially such a feisty one so I was actively trying to find someone to adopt Astrid. A couple of friends said I should just keep her, but I was really hesitant. My mom would be so frustrated ‘cause she was falling in love with the little one.
We did find someone to adopt her, and they picked her up just before Holy Week, since we were headed out of town. I felt so sad preparing all her things, and Astrid seemed to sense it. She was very clingy, and kept hanging around me. By the time they came to get her, I was bawling but decided it would be for the best. After hearing that Astrid had hidden in one of their rooms for a whole day, we decided we wanted her back. She came home to us on Easter Sunday, and has ruled the house ever since.
WF: What about the twins?
BT: The ginger twins came to us in May of 2018. We were really looking for ONE ginger kitten to adopt, and my friend Ashley Fruno from PETA said they had a rescue kitten going through a health check at the vet. She sent me a photo, and promised to keep me posted on when it would be cleared for adoption.
We agreed on a date to meet the cat, and this is where the story takes an interesting turn. When my mom and I got to the vet, the assistant comes out with two identical ginger kittens. Ashley turns to us and says, “You can choose which one you want to bring home with you.”
WHHHAAAATTTT??? How can you choose between two adorable little kittens that were clinging to our shoulders? To which my mom says, “We’re adopting both, and if they’re already cleared by the vet and have all their shots, we’re ready to take them home today.” I don’t think any of us saw that coming, but it’s a decision I am so glad we made.
So now, I have three cats who are full of personality, tip the scales at five kilos each, and are the most lovable cats anyone could ask for.
WF: What were the hardships that came with adopting Astrid?
BT: I’d say the challenge had more to do with figuring out what to do with a new kitten, given that we had not had a pet in over 20 years. Next, there was training her to use the litter box, which was so easy. Now we need to talk about the fleas! Since we didn’t think Astrid had them, she would sleep on my mom’s belly. My mom ended up with flea bites, and we had to solve the flea problem by giving Astrid flea treatment, having the house completely fumigated, and keeping her out of the bedrooms. The poor thing would be waiting outside, wondering why we wouldn’t let her in. Lastly, she was such a bitey and scratchy kitten, especially in the morning, which scared me a lot. But we figured it out, and it was easier by the time we adopted Simba and Zazu.
WF: Could you talk about the cats’ different personalities and how they interact with each other?
BT: Astrid is who we like to call “the madame” because she is the older of the cats. At home, she is so adored and loved, and she knows it! You can smother her with hugs and kisses, and she just looks at you as if to say, “You’re welcome.” Sometimes, I am not sure if she knows she’s a cat ‘cause she would answer back when you call out or talk to her, making all sorts of sounds like in human conversation. She is not fond of people she doesn’t know and will hide in the room when we have guests in the house.
Zazu is who we often call “world peace” because he is the most happy and content of the three. As long as he can eat, sleep (preferably on the bed), and poop (LOL), he’s all good. He also loves to scream me awake in the morning (at 6am!) to feed him. Or anytime he is hungry actually.
Simba is the most quiet of the three, and has a very soft, timid meow. But he is a feisty one, snapping back if someone unfamiliar reaches out to pet him. He enjoys snuggling the most, and will climb on top of you in bed to take a nap.
Simba and Astrid are the closest of the three. I think they are in love! They like to snuggle and play together, while Astrid loves to groom Simba. Zazu just likes hanging out with his hoomans. They also all have their little corners in the bedroom where they nap throughout the day. Oh, and they love their boxes and open cabinets!
WF: Was there a trick to making Astrid welcome the twins into your home?
BT: It was a combination of time and carefully supervised encounters. The first three weeks were tricky ‘cause the kittens had to be treated with antibiotics (cue in crazy images of me chasing after them in the bedroom to give them their meds) for a residual infection they didn’t catch during the health check. The vet advised keeping them separate from Astrid, so she would hang out outside their door wanting to find out about the two “intruders.”
After the vet gave them the all clear, we would let Astrid enter the room when we were there, and she would sniff and hiss at them. Sometimes, we’d have to play referee and keep her from getting too rough. After a few more weeks, we would let them eat together, and they slowly got used to each other. We knew it was all good when we found them hanging out in the basket bed in the balcony.
WF: What are the things they do that amuse you or make you laugh?
BT: Astrid loves to “supervise” us when we’re doing housework. When we’re washing dishes, she sits on the kitchen ledge watching us until we’re done. When we’re changing the bed sheets, Astrid jumps up on the bed, going from one corner to another, as if to say, “Do it right, girl!” Or if we’re in the bathroom, she likes to jump up on the sink to watch as you brush your teeth, like my mom used to do when we were kids.
All three cats love to sleep in my mom’s closet. Every time she opens it, Astrid and Simba jump in and promptly take a nap for hours. Sometimes we can’t even close the closet ‘cause they’ve managed to jump in without us noticing.
Another thing about these cats is that they don’t seem to like the typical cat beds. We bought something for the house once, and there was a small square box inside. When we took it out, Simba decided he wanted to sleep in it. Months later, the box is still there because they use it all day, every day. Sometimes, two cats at a time sleep in it. That can’t be comfortable, right?
WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners?
BT: It’s a combination of patience, research (both through the help of fellow cat-loving friends and online articles), willingness to be awakened at 5am to feed the hungry, and realising that your life will no longer just be all about you. You now have a creature that relies on you to take care of him. The purrs and cuddles you get in return are priceless, and so worth it.
WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal?
BT: Do it! I am a big believer in the “adopt don’t shop” movement, more so now because my three cats are all rescues. There are so many cats and dogs out there—with so much love to give—that need homes.
Another thing to remember is to make sure that the rescue cat or dog undergoes a complete health check, adequate quarantine period, and given the proper vaccination especially if you have other pets at home, so everyone is safe. When you bring him home for the first time, take the time to slowly introduce him to your other pets. It could take weeks, so be patient!
WF: Your Instagram account also features an adorable foster kitten named Archie. Do you foster on a regular basis?
BT: Archie was actually my first foster kitten. I rescued her back in May, after I almost ran her over in the village. I picked her up and brought her to the vet for a complete health check. Archie spent 10 days at the vet to shake off a bad cold, take some tests, and get her shots. As a first-time foster, the challenge was to not fall in love with Archie which was soooo hard! Archie found her furever home with my friend Jenina, where she is now very pampered and spoiled. I just had to foster her after she was released from the vet, as Jenina could only pick her up by a certain date. Handing Archie over to her forever family was heartbreaking, but I knew it was the best thing for her.
I am not sure how soon I can handle fostering a kitten again. As a foster parent, you have to be able to shower the animal with lots of love, cuddles, and food. You also need to be ready (and willing) to take care of all their needs during the time they’re with you—from vet visits and food to toys and treats. In short, love them as though you are their furever family.
WF: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while fostering Archie?
BT: I think what stayed with me after I gave Archie to her furever family is that she is one more kitten who is safe, off the streets, and will get the love she deserves.
WF: How do you make your home a safe place for both your adopted cats and foster kitten?
BT: I try to be conscious about where my cats will be and what’s around them. For example, we live in a condo building, so I needed to have screens put over the windows to keep the cats from jumping out. I also pick toys with no small parts.
WF: How has your life changed after adopting and fostering animals?
BT: I have turned into a certified cat momma! Haha! I can’t imagine my life without them greeting me (or ignoring me, in Astrid’s case) when I get home. From their quirks to their constant demands for food, I wouldn’t have it any other way. They also force you to be a little more responsible ‘cause you cannot forget to have cat food ready or clean the litter box. I also have to get up at 6am every day ‘cause Zazu wants breakfast…now!
Follow Astrid, Zazu, and Simba’s Instagram account to see more of their adventures.
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!