Thirty-eight-year old powerlifter and personal trainer Solon Condenuevo never imagined he would be the doting dad to two cats: one-and-a-half year old Wayne and his three-month-old adopted son, Robin. Despite the fact that his companions at home weren’t originally keen on having pets, the animal lover made an effort to find a safe space for them.
Speaking with Waldo’s Friends, Solon shares how this “dynamic duo” unexpectedly came into his life.
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Waldo’s Friends (WF): How did you come to adopt your pets, Wayne and Robin?
Solon Condenuevo (SC): I first came across Wayne as a dirty stray kitten. His mom abandoned him on the street, just outside our home. I heard his cries for a few days and began to feel pity for him, so I took him in and decided to take care of him on a permanent basis. But first, I brought him to the veterinarian to get checked and treated because he was riddled with fleas.
Robin is a totally different story. About a year after I took Wayne in, he brought Robin into our home. One random morning, Wayne was feeling extremely restless. It felt like he was raring to go out, and when I opened the gate, he scampered and went away. I let him be. A few hours later, Wayne came back with a kitten, which he carried by the back of its neck. He dropped the kitten by my feet, looking at me as if to say “please accept this kitten,” so I did.
In my heart, I believe that Wayne is the father of Robin because they have the same fur colour combination. Wayne is named after the famous character Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego), because it looks like he’s wearing a black mask. As such, it only seemed fitting that I call his adopted son Robin.
WF: Did you have previous experience with animals? How did this affect your decision to adopt these cats?
SC: I’ve always loved taking care of animals, but I had a long break of owning pets before Wayne and Robin came along. When my dad passed away, my cousins encouraged me to get a pet to help me cope with grief and depression. Their advice worked because the moment I found Wayne, my mood instantly lifted. I knew that caring for him would distract me in a way, and fill the void that was in my heart.
WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting your pets? If so, how did you deal with them?
SC: I didn’t have any major issues with Wayne. It was more of my mom not wanting me to adopt him because she didn’t want the added expenses and responsibilities. Plus, she didn’t want Wayne going around the house freely. However, I proved to her that I was capable of caring for Wayne by finding an enclosed area that he could comfortably stay in, and regularly feeding and cleaning his area.
Soon, I noticed that my mother’s attitude toward Wayne changed. Wayne has a sweet personality and he would always call out to my mom, so she slowly warmed up to him. Eventually, she would even be the one to remind me that it was time for Wayne to eat. She also wouldn’t get mad whenever Wayne entered our house.
There was also an issue that our grandma was allergic to cat fur, so Wayne and Robin weren’t allowed to enter her home (which was connected to ours). However, we later found out that it wasn’t the case, so the cats are now welcome to roam around that house as well.
WF: What makes your adopted pets unique?
SC: Wayne and Robin always greet me when they see me come into the house or garage. Wayne calls me by meowing at me, asking to be scratched under his neck or belly.
Whenever I sit beside them, they always try to go on my lap and knead my legs. I am grateful that they don’t take their claws out whenever they do it. Sometimes, it even feels like they’re tickling me.
Whenever I feed them, Wayne and Robin always look at me intently throughout their meal. After eating, they rub their bodies against my legs and try to lick me. It’s as if they are telling me, “Thank you for feeding us!”
WF: Any funny stories you can share about your pets?
SC: I love playing hide-and-seek with Wayne whenever he’s in the mood. It’s funny because I would hide in a spot where I could see him (like behind a door), then he would proceed to look for me. Once he finds me, he would jump at me then run away to hide again.
WF: What’s the best pet parenting tip you can give for first-time animal owners?
SC: Treat them as equals. Show your love for them in various ways. Feed them, provide toys and shelter for them, and take them to the vet as needed. Study their body language and use visual cues and vocal signals to communicate with them.
Though it’s not required by Philippine law, it’s highly advisable for paw parents to have their pets neutered. I had Wayne neutered to decrease his urges to step out, mate with other stray cats, and get diseases from them. Before, he would be gone for days and I would be so worried about him. Good thing he would always come back. Robin isn’t neutered yet, but I plan on doing so once my vet gives the go signal.
WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal? Why would you personally encourage them to adopt?
SC: My advice is to really think twice and consider all factors before adopting a rescue animal. Adopting one is a lifetime commitment which will involve your time, effort, and resources.
WF: How has your life changed after adopting your pets?
SC: Wayne and Robin have the power to instantly lift my mood. They make me happy when I’m sad or stressed out. When I’m alone, I don’t feel lonely because I can just go and talk or play with them.
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!