By LeRae Haynes –
Giving animals the best life possible is at the heart of a caring young family in Williams Lake. Kathleen, Sophia, and their four-month-old baby have rescued and opened their home to five cats named Sampson, Rebekah, Ellie, Absence, and Mylo, a dog named Sadie, Aki the orange corn snake, Esther the gecko, and Navi the baby corn snake.
“I got Ellie, our black cat, as a tiny runt being fostered by a dog; when we met, she chose me,” said Kathleen, long-time animal lover.
“When I wanted to take on another cat, I wanted another black one. They are often considered throwaway animals, and get left in shelters the longest,” she added. “They’re the ones left behind, abused, and most often put down.”
“People don’t want them because they’re black. We want them because they are—because they deserve a good home.”
The family has five cats now. “We’d go to the shelter to hang out with cats, and the ones we adopted chose us. Some of them we rescued—like one of ours whose mom was killed by a dog, and who we bottle-fed,” she said.
“My dad needed a home for his older cat and we took him in, too.”
She said she could not live without animals in her life. “They are our family members. When I come home the dog and cats are so glad to see me. When I’ve had a bad day, they get it. Abby will follow me around until I pick her up,” she continued. “Another cat will flop on my feet while I’m cooking—makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood.” The young couple’s four-month-old son loves being around the family pets, especially the cats. “Our animals love him,” Kathleen said. “When he’s lying on his back under his Tummy Time Mat, our cat Sampson will come and lie on his back beside the baby and roll around, too.”
She explained that prejudices people often have about cats are that they stink, they’re dirty, and they’re messy. “A good owner means a good pet,” she said. “There aren’t bad cats; there is bad training and there are bad habits. Animals absolutely enrich a household when they’re looked after properly.”
She said this is something that matters deeply in their household. “Our animals eat healthy good food and use good litter and have vet visits,” she said.“There are costs involved but what they bring to our lives is totally worth it.
“Another choice we made for our cats’ well being is keeping them as indoor cats. Putting your cats outdoors shortens their lifespans from five to seven years. There are more pests, there are dogs, wildlife, traffic, and people who poison them with antifreeze or shoot them with pellet guns.
“This is what we believe in and is a choice for us,” she added. “Cats are not disposable animals: our cats love us, and we love them back.”
She said they want their baby to grow up believing that animals are family, to know how to approach a strange dog, to train pets properly. “I think knowing how to navigate a family with animals teaches responsibility, compassion, and how to deal with loss,” she explained. “We can learn a lot from animals—they’re full of forgiveness and resilience. I think they’re a lot smarter than we know, especially about emotions,” she said.
“We need to treat animals the way we want to be treated; they’re for life.”
World Animal Day is a good time to reassess how we treat animals, said Kathleen. “They bring so much to our lives, and we need to make sure their lives are the best they can be.”
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of music with kids.