Happiness that cats bring

‘While many spend to buy the expensive breeds, many stray cats are more beautiful.’

Pet parent Charlene Concepcion, whose 30 rescued cats perished in a fire in Sta. Mesa Manila on 21 August, plays with a ‘puspin’ (pusang Pinoy) at a nearby evacuation site. | PHOTOGRAPH BY Gab Humilde Villegas FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE @tribunephl_gab

September 4, 2022

For many, owning a pet is a privilege that brings great rewards. Caring for a dog or cat, owners said, helps ease loneliness and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Although the benefits of pet ownership vary, owners consider them as part of the family. They do not ask for much, just adequate food, water, exercise, and a warm, safe, and sheltered place to live.

Couple Annalyn Garcia and Charlene Concepcion are pet parents who brought rescued cats into their home and took care of them until that fateful night on 21 August when a fire razed the neighborhood on Valencia Street, Sta Mesa, Manila.

All their 30 cats perished in the blaze, which also left 400 families homeless.

Garcia, 23, started rescuing cats in her childhood. She said her first was rescued in a canal in 2014. Since then, she has been rescuing stray cats.

“We started with one and I got it from a canal. He survived until we started to rescue many,” she said.

Concepcion lamented that most people prefer pure-bred animals for a pet rather than stray animals.

Puspins’ champions

“We do not rescue cats for nothing. For us, rescuing helps them because they are not noticed,” she said, referring to puspins (pusang Pinoy).

She added that on social media, the high-breed cats get attention while the puspins are an ordinary sight on the streets.

“While many spend to buy the expensive breeds, many stray cats are more beautiful,” she said.

Fostering cats was to relieve her stress and fatigue from a whole day’s work, sharing that cats were the reason behind their long-lasting relationship.

“There’s a lot of fulfillment because they’ll automatically welcome you from work. The feeling of being tired disappears when I see them,” she added.

Garcia, 23, helps pet owners bring their dogs and cats to the veterinary clinic for spaying and neutering while, Concepcion, 26, works in a donut chain in Singalong, Manila.

Garcia said she was in Quiapo, Manila at around 9 p.m. to drop off an abandoned cat.

Though heartbroken, the couple said they might take a break from fostering cats while rebuilding their house but will continue to rescue stray and abandoned cats.

“We’ll lie low first because even though many people say that it’s just a cat, it can be replaced.”

It is not that easy to replace them because they are our life. We both work for them. We built our house for them. Honestly, we just live for our cats. That’s how we love them,” Concepcion said.

A week after the tragedy, they said they seem to be still hearing their cats asking for help.

“They’re not just cats, they’re our children,” they said.

The couple said it is unfortunate to get the blame for the cats’ death. Bashers said the cats would have been alive had they not been caged.

“They do not know the real story,” they said, adding that they are grateful to the Cat House and PUP Sintang Pusa for helping rescue other animals that survived the fire.

Many people measure money as the basis of happiness in life, but for Garcia and Concepcion, rescuing animals and taking care of them is their happiness.

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