Growing up in a family with many pets, I’ve always loved animals, especially dogs as my grandpa used to breed dogs as a hobby. Very unfortunately, I have been suffering from asthma since young and due to a freak accident when one of our dogs almost scratched my grandpa’s eye out, we stopped rearing dogs and other furry animals. As I grew older, I would increasingly “try my luck” and push my parents and grandma to let me keep furry animals. My ultimate goal was always to keep a dog. I slowly “upgraded” from frogs and salamanders to rabbits and chinchillas. When I turned 21, I was finally allowed to keep a dog. However, I faced another problem. As we had maids at home, they were terrified at the idea and I felt like it was only right to respect their faith. Hence, I decided to “settle for a cat.”
While I visited pet shops to find the right cat for my family, something at the back of my mind told me that I had to visit the SPCA and give the animals there a second chance. Prior to physically visiting the SPCA, I ran through their website and looked at the cats up for adoption. Of all the cats, two of them caught my eye. “Ruben is not from American Idol but he sure can sing!” I thought it was an interesting description but immediately felt that this was not the cat for me. I wouldn’t be too pleased if my cat was too noisy. Scrolling down further, I found the perfect addition to our family. An orange tabby named Gigs. His description was “Gigs is gentle giant. If you are looking for a lap cat, this is the one for you.” Upon entering the SPCA grounds, I went straight to Gigs’ cage and asked to hold him. I had an immediate connection with him and he hugged onto me tightly. However, he was having a sore eye and my mum vehemently rejected the idea of adopting an animal with problems and encouraged me to enter the cattery where I could pick out another cat. As I entered the cattery, a cat ran right past me and I took a step back, stomping on another cat’s tail, resulting a huge scratch on my calf. I looked around further and didn’t seem to find any cat that I had the same connection with as Gigs.
My whole family was inside the cattery except one of my brothers who sat outside sulking. Sensing something was wrong, I went to have a talk with him outside the cattery. He told me that he didn’t really like cats and if I had to adopt one, he wanted the fattest and biggest one that was like a dog. He pointed to Ruben...the cat whose tail I stepped on. I saw that the rest of my family seemed to like him as well. Simply because he was fat and cute. Though he wasn’t exactly my “first choice”, I decided to adopt Ruben as I wanted the entire family to love my new pet and I would grow to like him. During the adoption procedures, I found out that Ruben had been been sent to the SPCA thrice as previous adopters either changed their minds or had an allergic reaction to him. I was the third person to adopt him. I knew then that I had to treat him well and not let him go through the emotional torture of getting sent back again. However, I did not like the name Ruben at all. Being all round and cute, we decided to change his name to Chubby.
He was the sweetest cat ever. He would follow me around the house all the time, sit quietly by my side when I was sad, “meow” me in the morning as my alarm clock and “scold” me whenever I came home late. Of course, like all cats, he has his irritating moments as well, like refusing to go through his cat flap and meowing outside the door for me to open the door for him like a king, plonking his furry on my face while I am asleep and the occasional meowing in the middle of the night, wanting to go outside to play. With his little quirks and irresistibly cute actions, it was not long before Chubby captured my heart. Everyday, I look forward to forging new memories with him.
One of the most unforgettable experiences we shared was on the 8 August, 2010. It was one of those nights where Chubby was being a brat...or so i thought. He was meowing in my ear incessantly. At that time, Chubby was making it a habit to wake me up every other night to play and I was resolved not to spoil him and not accede to his “midnight galavanting” requests before it became a permanent cycle. I pretended to be asleep and ignored his meows but it just got louder and louder, until it was almost as if he was screaming at the top of his lungs. I got up and looked at my clock. It was 3:35 a.m.. Irritated that he woke me up from my beauty sleep, I scolded him and tried to go back to sleep. Chubby continued meowing and started to lick my face. When his attempts to get me out of bed failed, he used his paw to push my face. All of a sudden, he stopped and I heard him dash out of the room through the cat flap. At that time, I thought I had won the “battle”. Perseverance has paid off. In less than 2 minutes however, Chubby was back. This time, much louder and sounding a lot more urgent. I was tired and needed my sleep badly and decided to give in and just let him out of the house before going back to bed.
I walked out of my room, intending to let him out of the house to play. As I walked out of my room, I sensed that something was not right. I looked to the area where we had our fish tanks and realized that it was much brighter than usual. It was then that it hit me. My house was on fire! I ran to all the different rooms, banging on all the doors to wake everyone up. When my mum opened her door, there was thick black smoke flowing out. Being still half asleep my mum was totally oblivious to it. Her room was just above the area on fire and the air emerging from her room was scorching hot. We immediately called the police and tried to put out the fire. After about half an hour, we managed to extinguish the flames. It was such a close call and our house was very close to exploding as we realized that the fire was only about 1 meter away from a gas tank that powered a machine that chased mosquitos away. Well they say that a cat has nine lives. That night, Chubby saved the nine human lives in the house.
After the fire was put out, the worst was not over. The fire started due to an overloading of the power points at the fish tank area. As my dad’s hobby is to rear fishes, we have over 30 fish tanks with pumps and lights. The overloading of plugs created a short circuit and an electrical fire. Although the fire was put out and some of the fishes were “barbecued” or “steamed” there were still about a hundred of them which were still alive but were starting to suffocate as the pumps were no longer working. As my dad was overseas for work, we were at a loss. Chubby kept meowing around one of the tanks which led us to call the aquarium which we purchased that fish from. Not only did the owners of the aquarium not ignore our calls for help in the middle of the night, they came to our house from the other side of Singapore with temporary power and pumps to help us with the disaster at hand. All the remaining fishes managed to survive the ordeal. While we were dealing with the disaster, Chubby never left us...except for that short while that he disappeared. Poor Chubby was so afraid that he ran to the litter box to clear his bowels before continuing to alert me of the impending danger. He could have ran off when I opened the door but he sat there and watched quietly, supporting us from the side.
Suddenly, Chubby was our hero. It was strange because before that incident, I’ve always had a recurring dream that my house was on fire and a cat woke me up to save the family. It was a dream I started to have when I was 6 and long before I ever decided to have a cat. After the incident, I never had the dream again. My brother who didn’t like cats and used to avoid Chubby, started to pat him on his head and buy treats for him. Chubby is now a legend in the family and we whenever visitors come to our house, this story is repeated over and over again.
Contributed by Audrey Ong