September 8, 2021
Tzu Chi launches cat adoption program
By Joy Rojas
When Marlene Serrano learned that the Tzu Chi Foundation had put 22 cats in its compound up for adoption, she went to the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila, to have her pick of the litter.
“I chose the ones that we were able to catch,” says Serrano with a hearty laugh of a white cat with black markings and blue and green eyes she named Chi Chi, and a striped tabby she calls Cat Cat. The two are the newest additions to Serrano’s pet cats—about 10 at last count.
If the businesswoman from Bulacan can’t forget her first cat from 30 years ago, it isn’t just because it was of mixed breed. “That’s also when my luck began!” she exclaims. “Cats are really lucky. I don’t know but when I see a cat with unique colors, I want to get it right away.”
Serrano was the first to respond to BTCC’s cat adoption program, published in a Chinese newspaper. “She called right away on a Sunday, inquiring,” says Kimberly Tiu, a staff member of BTCC Admin Department. “I told her to come on a weekday, so someone could attend to her.”
News of Chi Chi and Cat Cat’s adoption is bittersweet (“the staff was attached to one of them because he was so tame,” says Tiu), but she knows it’s all for the best. “The new owner looks like she’s the type to take care of them,” she says.
BTCC’s cat community began with just two kittens, says Dina Obidos, certified Tzu Chi volunteer and member of BTCC’s Logistics Department. The number grew as strays that entered the compound found humans to feed them and a safe place to stay. Obidos also couldn’t refuse the kittens that people threw mercilessly from atop a nearby bridge.
“The cats being thrown from the bridge are bigger now, and we don’t have the heart not to feed them, especially when we’re eating and they’re right next to us,” she says. “Someone threw three kittens by the coconut tree. Roque [Baytan, Tzu Chi volunteer and BTCC Logistics Department staffer] had to climb up the tree to get them because we could hear them crying at night.”
So concerned were BTCC’s cat custodians of their felines’ welfares that they sacrifice their weekends to watch over them. “When he would go home, I would stay; when I go home, he would stay,” says Obidos. “Because no one would feed them on Sundays. The smaller ones were killed by a dog when no one was watching over them.”
Whether she’s spending her Sundays looking after BTCC’s cats or simply showing them affection, Obidos remembers what Dharma Master Cheng Yen said: “For as long as something has life, you should take care of it.” This commissioner Felix Uy affirmed when he chanced upon the volunteer tending to the cats that were dropped from the bridge.
“Thank you for rescuing the lives of these cats,” he said.
At Tzu Chi, embracing vegetarianism isn’t the only way to show compassion for animals. Simply looking after them, by giving them a proper home and healthy food to eat shows love and respect for all living creatures, thus yielding good karma.
BTCC takes in dogs and cats that have either wandered into the compound or are abandoned by their owners. Of late, their population has increased. If you wish to give a dog or cat a good home or make them part of your family, please call 8714-1188 or 0915-456-9555.