Updated: Feb 6, 2021
by Chloe Kwek (20J18) and May Tan (20J19)
Renowned English author Terry Pratchett once quipped, “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” Evidently, these small furry creatures have captured the hearts of countless humans for centuries, and their legacy lives on in modern times. Today, cats are the second-most popular household pets in the world, ranking only behind dogs.
So, why do we love cats so much?
Well, the most obvious answer would be that they’re just too adorable - I’m sure any photo of a cat contentedly curled up would melt even the coldest heart of steel. There’s just something about their soulful eyes and soft features that make us long to cuddle them and never let them go.
Or perhaps their quirky behaviour and fiercely independent nature strike a chord with us. Have you ever tried to call a cat to come to you, only to have it turn its nose up at you and saunter away, or worse, be completely ignored?
Unlike their canine counterparts, these fickle felines come to us not when called but only when they feel like it. Yet, this seemingly aloof creature is somehow amusingly relatable; as human beings, we all have an innate desire to be self-sufficient and respected by others. In fact, their unpredictability makes us even more determined to earn their affection - because what greater gift is there than the love of a cat?
In a more philosophical vein, perhaps we see in cats a reflection of our deepest, most primal desires. Who wouldn’t want to be able to sleep for fourteen hours a day and not have to work a single second? We are envious of the simple yet fulfilling lives they lead.
To a cat, happiness is a tasty piece of chicken, a comfortable cushion, a nap in the sunshine. They are not bothered by the multitude of problems that plague the human world. When we see them curled up asleep, without a care in the world, we can’t help but wonder - just for a moment - what it would feel like to be stripped of all the trials and tribulations that come with being human.
Meet the cats of some of our very own RV students and staff!
Yes, after hearing us wax lyrical about why we love cats, you’ll finally get to see what you came here for - cat photos! We have interviewed a few cat owners from RV, who kindly shared with us sentiments and snapshots of their furry friends.
First up is Ms Toh Shao Pin, one of the admins of the @cats.of.rv Instagram account! She currently has four cats at home: Xiaohei, Xiaobrown, Xiaobai and Luffy, as seen in the collage above.
Her very first cat, Siapster, was a community cat adopted from her housing estate. He brought them a lot of joy and taught them that it is more blessed to give than to receive. She believes that she and her family became more empathetic individuals because of him.
After he passed away, they went on to adopt four more cats. Ms Toh says fondly, “It is a wonderful feeling to come back to four furriends who do not judge [you] and accept you for who you are wholeheartedly.”
Regarding the @cats.of.rv account, Ms Toh reveals that it actually started off with a group of like-minded teachers who worked together to carry out the Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage (TNRM) programme in RV - a humane, scientific and sustainable method of managing the stray cat population.
As they felt that RVians could learn more about community cats, they set up the Instagram account as a resource for such information.
She adds proudly, “We also had a series called #TeachersPetThursday where we featured the animal companions of some of our very own staff. There were also stories of some of our rescued cases, and features on some guest cats who turn[ed] up in RV.”
“We hope that these stories have helped demystify cats, and encourage RVians to do more for the community animals.”
Next, meet Silver, the sweet black-and-white cat belonging to Jasper Koay of 20J02!
Like Ms Toh, his family adopted her from their housing estate after his father saw her trying to find food. Asked what he thinks a cat’s best quality is, he replies that they are relatively independent animals, making them ideal pets for people who often leave their homes for long hours.
He shares that his favourite memory of Silver would be her jumping onto his bed to keep him company when he was having a high fever a few years ago. Who says cats aren’t as affectionate as dogs?
Last but not least, this is Jebby, the photogenic tabby cat of Tan Jing Wen of 20J19! Her sister adopted him from an owner who was migrating and could not bring him along.
As a fellow cat lover, she naturally feels that cats are adorable and make amazing companions, since they don’t make much noise and require less care compared to other pets.
She adds, “My favourite memory of Jebby would be when I was alone rushing work late into the night and feeling really down, but he came and accompanied me by my table, and waited for me to finish my work before following me into my room and sleeping on my bed with me. He made me feel less lonely and burdened whenever I do work.”
Should I get a cat?
You may be wondering if you should also get yourself a feline companion - or any other pet for that matter. While it will definitely brighten up your days, getting a pet is a serious commitment and not one you should take up on a whim.
Here’s what Ms Toh has to say about pet ownership: “Not everything is fun and fluffy. There is also the mundane part - cleaning the cat litter boxes, walking the dog daily, washing their feeding dishes, grooming, and vet checks. [Not to mention] the financial consideration where you need to invest in reasonable quality food to keep your pets well-nourished; the biggest financial strain comes when your pets fall ill as vet costs can get quite high.
“If you and your family are sure that you are able to [commit], the next step is to consider where to get the pet from. There are many shelters, welfare organisations and independent rescuers who have rescued animals from dangerous places and/or undesirable living conditions. These are the best places to adopt a pet. I advocate Adopt-Don’t-Shop because when you adopt, you are giving these rescued animals a second chance in life, as well as helping to free up available space in shelters to rescue more animals in need.”
A final note of warning from Ms Toh: “If you do want to buy a pet, be sure to visit licensed pet shops instead of unlicensed backyard breeders, many of whom deal through social media or websites. There is a baseline standard for animal well-being in licensed pet shops, whereas many unlicensed backyard breeders do not keep to such standards. Also, many animals who are used for breeding end up with a multitude of illnesses and diseases from the multiple breeding cycles.”
Cats are wonderfully eccentric creatures and empathetic companions. They accentuate our joy, alleviate our sorrow, and perhaps most importantly, give us something to live for in this difficult world. Even if you aren’t a cat lover, they still deserve to be treated with care and compassion. And for those who are able to commit to owning a cat, we hope you will consider opening your hearts and homes to these furry feline friends.