Four years ago, writer and stylist Pierra Labrador was already a proud paw-rent of three cats. But when an abandoned black kitten was literally dropped into her home, she couldn’t resist adding him to her fur family. Pierra shares the delightful story of Dapoleon, the youngest of her brood.
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Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did first come across Dapoleon?
Pierra Labrador (PL): You know how they say that street cats nurse their kittens until they’re old enough and then leave them to fend for themselves? I witnessed this firsthand when a stray cat gave birth on our roof! I felt like Cinderella, except instead of birds singing, I would wake up to kitten meowing every morning.
For three months, I watched the Mama Cat clamber onto the roof every day to nurse, groom, snuggle, and play with her three kittens. Then one day (I guess when she figured they were old enough to eat on their own), she dropped them over the side of the roof and into our pocket garden. The thing is, we already had too many cats of our own, so when she dropped the first two into the garden, I took them outside and parked them where Mama Cat usually hung out, with the foolish intention of reuniting them. But before I knew it, a speeding neighbour ran over them. It was heartbreaking.
So when Mama Cat dropped her third and final kitten into our garden, we decided we had to keep him—safe from the hit-and-run fate of his siblings. His Mama disappeared after a while, but I think she is happy knowing her son has a home with us. And that is the story of how Dapoleon came into our lives.
WF: Before Dapoleon, did you have any previous experience with adopting animals?
PL: I come from a family of pusong mamon (soft-hearted people) when it comes to cats. My sister Michelle was so fond of taking home orphaned kitties that our neighbours had started to leave cats by our gate. When we still lived with our parents, we had about 30 cats living with us at one point! It was a mad but glorious time.
WF: What were the challenges that came with adopting Dapoleon?
PL: In my current home with my husband Toto, the first challenge was getting him to accept living with a cat. It took a while, but he’s been converted to the cat side. Next was getting the older “kids” to accept every new arrival. It’s especially tough with the males because they pee all over the house to mark their territory. Oh, and breaking up catfights can get really scary and leave everyone with serious scratches (humans included).
Since Dapoleon was literally raised on the roof, he entered our home riddled with fleas that Toto and I picked off ourselves, lest he contaminate everyone else. (We also took him to the vet for a thorough check-up.) Also, maybe because Dapoleon arrived as a baby, the other cats weren’t threatened by him, so he’s pretty much the mayor of this home and is the only one that gets along with all the other cats in the family.
Dapoleon is playful, friendly, and sweet, but scares off the guests with his claws that he’s never learned to retract. But he also somehow takes care not to scratch anyone with them.
WF: Why would you personally encourage adopting animals?
PL: Because they bring so much joy to a household. It’s extra heartwarming when you know you’re providing a good, loving home for someone in need.
My furballs have taught me how to be a more loving, patient, and kind human. I’ve also learned to let go of my attachment to material things (which will eventually get scratched/knocked over/peed on), but that’s a small price to pay for the joy and wonder they bring to our lives. And on days when I’m particularly tired/upset/miserable, there’s nothing like the feeling of a cat climbing onto my lap to purr my stress away—I swear, they understand us.
WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners?
PL: With great paw-wer comes great responsibility. Be ready for it. Haha! Seriously though, the household needs to discuss and agree on who is responsible for your new adoptee—from feeding, grooming, vet visits, and paying for supplies, to scooping up the poop.
Follow the adventures of Dapoleon and his furry family on Instagram.
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