Sunday, December 14, 2008


Cats are like people. And oftentimes, they think like people.

It is simply amazing to see how mother cats act just like human mothers. I’ve observed my cats for 10 years now and I have seen that each female has her own ideas about mothering. But the unique ways with which they prepare for motherhood, give birth and raise their kittens really remind me of different women with children.

Here’s is a list of the various kinds of feline female behavior I have observed through the years:


This cat is the ideal mama. No one, neither elder cats nor concerned humans, teaches her how to take care of the babies yet she does it like a real pro. She gives birth alone, without any fuss or sound, and instinctively knows that she has to eat the umbilical cord and sack like her cousins do in the wild (no Lamaze lessons, no nurses, wet nurses nor doctors to assist at the moment of birth). She then grooms the newborns, lets them suckle and never leaves them for the first 24 hours.

cheira and toy
Like human teenage moms, cats less than a year old usually make bad mamas. They just aren’t mentally and emotionally prepared to be mothers. My white Persian cat Cheira got pregnant when she was just 7 months old. When she gave birth, she did not know what to do. She left the kittens in a corner and refused to nurse them despite my repeated attempts to force her to lie down and let them suckle. Needless to say, the babies lived for just a day. But when she gave birth again a year later, she knew exactly how to care for her babies.


Mama cats are very protective of their offspring. Like their wild cousins the lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc., they feel the need to protect the babies against predator species or, as in the case of my cats, from the other adult cats at home. In the wild, male lions kill cubs to eliminate competitors for food and females. So the mother lion keeps on changing dens to make sure her pups will not be found. My cats still follow this instinct. A few weeks after giving birth, they always move their kittens to a different area or room.


These mothers are so proud of their kittens that instead of sticking to their maternal instincts and hiding the babies, they bring out the litter and place them in an open area for all to see. It worries me when they do this a day or more after giving birth. My cat Mignonne is guilty of this. She enjoys the attention when the rest of the family come to check out her babies.


Kidnapping – or in this case, kittennapping - occurs when a cat is either about to give birth or has just given birth. Strangely, the mothers of the kidnapped kittens do not raise a fuss except for another white Persian, Xerea, who scolded her kitten and refused to let him suckle for a day when he (the kitten) agreed to stay with his aunt Bast and did not try to escape. When they are kidnapped, the reluctant and often screaming little victims are taken by the scruff of the neck by the expectant or new mother and brought to her chosen den. Perhaps the expecting mom is so excited about her coming babies that she gets impatient and decides to mother someone else’s kitten. The kidnapped kittens are then expected to babysit or teach the newborns a few things.


Ishtar, a pewter-colored Persian, trains her daughters to care for the babies. She makes them stay and watch over the kittens while she socializes with the other cats or inspects the house. The daughters usually don’t mind as long as they, too, get to suckle even if they are already six months old or more.


I first noticed this apparent agreement between feline mothers to cooperate and share responsibilities some seven years ago when sisters Mau and Bast gave birth at the same time to a litter of 3 kittens each. The sisters took turns eating so that one of them would always be with the kittens. They groomed and nursed each other’s babies.

Last year, the phenomenon was repeated when Filipino (or American Shorthair) cats Spider and Pouncival gave birth weeks apart. I had rescued Spider two years ago from under the back tire of a Pajero parked along Times Street in Quezon City. Pouncival, on the other hand, just walked into my garden one day and refused to leave. I gave her away to a neighbor but every morning I would find her back in my garage in time for breakfast. Like Bast and Mau, Spider and Pouncival care for each other’s litter, groom each other’s babies and watch over them.


Not all cats become attached to people. Some keep an independent attitude and do not wish to be petted nor stroked. But Barbie is quite the opposite. She always wants to be near me and makes sure that her babies become close to me. In fact, she moved her babies from under the bed to under the bedside table so they would always have easy access to me. Thus her three babies Aslan, Simba and Pocahontas grew up climbing in and out of my bed and even sleeping with me. But not all my female felines teach their kittens to be close to me.


ARTEMIS and her kittens
Some cats even go further by literally asking for help when they need it. Eleven-year-old Artemis always experiences a delay in kitten delivery. Her stomach gets so big and heavy that sometimes she doesn’t want to stand anymore. When it’s time to give birth yet her babies won’t come out yet, she comes to me for a healing. So I place my hands on her stomach and give it Reiki energy. Or I gently stroke and massage it. She loves it and usually wants to stay all day on the bed. The babies come out usually a day or two later.
BAST and her kitty

Her sister Bast also had the same idea. She usually keeps her babies hidden and well-protected. But one day, when a good friend who happens to be a doctor came to do acupuncture on our cat, Sam, Bast brought out her three babies and laid them out in front of him. It was the first and only time any of the cats did that to a visitor. We thought it was rather cute and we didn’t know what it meant at the time. It was only after the babies died two days later that we realized she was asking for medical or acupuncture help.


ISHTAR with Mau and Bast
This type of cat gives up whatever little food she has to her kittens. Not all mothers do this. But I’ve seen this admirable trait among some of my cats. When the kittens want more food or milk, Ishtar, Spider and Pouncival give them their share. It’s very much the same for human mothers. My mom does it for me. She buys clothes for herself and then gives them to me if I like them. Now that’s what I call the ultimate mother.

Motherhood, I am told, changes many women. I had the chance to observe this first hand with Xerea who used to be a timid cat who feared all the other cats. Xerea made her home in my bathroom perhaps thinking that the closed-in walls would provide her better protection from her siblings who just loved to tease and harass her. She often stayed on top of a tiled wall dividing the shower from the toilet area. For several years, none of our Prince Charming cats could lay their paws on Xerea, our “wall tower princess”. After giving birth to two kittens, Xerea first nursed them inside the bathroom cabinet and later moved them out to my room. More than a month later, she began making excursions to the dining room and kitchen. She must have liked it there because she brought her babies there. Now, Xerea goes all over the house. She has lost her fear of the other cats and she now fights back when they try to boss her around.
Animal behavior indeed mirrors human behavior. Or is it the other way around? And when it comes to mothering, humans do not have a monopoly on love for their babies. Mother cats and other species give the same attention and sacrifice to their offspring. Scientists may refer to it as the instinct to ensure “survival of the species”. But anyone who has the opportunity to observe animals up close will know that this is too simplistic an explanation. Animals are intelligent and they have a way of knowing which we do not completely comprehend. And mothering, for them, generally seems to be a special experience. (end)
Published in Mr. & Ms. magazine (May-June 2008) under my column: ANIMAL TOTEMS

(If you like this article, kindly share it through FB, Twitter, Google+ and/or others. )

Monday, March 10, 2008


By Khrysta Imperial Rara

Alternative healing methods are now legitimately practiced in the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan and China. In these places, hospital officials of state-run hospitals ask their patients whether they want to see regular doctors or alternative healers. The same goes for the animals. People can choose either to bring their pets to regular veterinarians or to alternative pet healers. A growing number of pet owners opt for the latter mainly because alternative healing turns out cheaper in the long term. Another reason is that more people are becoming health conscious and they no longer want to fill their pets’ bodies with chemical products (like antibiotics, chemical flea killers, de-wormers, etc…) Many pet owners would rather use natural ingredients and methods to heal their animal companions. Others combine homeopathic and allopathic methods. It all depends on what works best for you and your animal companion.

Healing pets the non-conventional way protects them from traumatic experiences.

A trip to the vet often causes fear and panic to an animal particularly if he or she had been previously subjected to injections, physical exams, blood tests and mishandling by a vet’s assistants.

Alternative healing methods also help humans bond with their animal friends. Everything that lives and exists in this world is composed of energy. Humans and animals are made up of energies, each vibrating at a different level. So when you try to heal a sick pet, he will immediately feel that you are trying to manipulate his energy field and he will love you the more for it.

I rarely go to the vet nowadays because it has become quite expensive. With 14 cats in the house, I have opted for energy healing to cut costs.

I practice several kinds of methods. My favorite is REIKI healing. Reiki, which means universal life energy in Japanese, is a method of healing that uses extremely fine energy tapped from the universal source. Practitioners are initiated so they can gain easy access to the life force. As a second-degree REIKI healer, I just put my hand on the part of the cat’s body that is bothering him and pass on healing energy to him. I can see the relief from pain in the cat’s eyes and actions. It’s either he falls asleep or he suddenly bounces off from my lap, completely energized. The results can be seen immediately or after a few sessions.

Sometimes, I do pranic healing. It’s basically the same principle of energy (prana) manipulation, but this time the pranic healer uses his hands to “sweep away” all negative energies within the animal’s energy field. Pranic healing is an ancient healing art. Animals tend to get impatient, though, so you might have to hold him with one hand while the other does the sweeping. Two of my cats have been healed with pranic energy. Aswad, a black stray cat, was going blind when he was dumped in my garage by some neighbors. His eyes were in a sorry state either because he didn’t get the proper care and nutrients or he had been scratched in the eyes. Veterinary doctors said both Aswad and Tuxedo, a black and white stray cat who had blood oozing from her eyes, were “hopeless” and would definitely go blind. Well, they did not. They recovered their eyesight within two weeks with the help of pranic healing and of course, a lot of love, attention and clean food. Fauna, a sleek jet black stray, was cured by REIKI energy – and Vitamin C. Another vet had taken her x-ray and said she was dying of lung and stomach infection. In 1999, my white Persian cat Horus suddenly started walking like a drunkard. He acquired a glazed look as if he were high on drugs and he could neither jump up nor come when called. The reason? A vet had prescribed a high dosage of antibiotic to stop his diarrhea. Well, the sickness stopped but Horus got even worse. I gave him lots of REIKI treatments and he is now one sweet fat independent cat.

Now, when my cats get diarrhea, I give homeopathic tablets in addition to the usual alternative treatments. Homeopathy cures an illness by treating the whole being rather than just the symptoms. It is holistic. Its medicines come from plant, mineral and animal sources and are used in extremely diluted amounts. The tablets I give my cats are for diarrhea and they are very effective.

My feline friends also love the spinal flush, so-called because it flushes the toxins out from the body. To do it, apply thumb pressure along the canals on both sides of the spine but not on the spine itself. Do this from the back of the neck all the way down to the edge of his body. To balance a pet’s energies when she’s feeling too aggressive or too weak, trace the number eight (8) sideways a few inches from her body. Do this several times.

Quartz crystals can also be a big help. When any of my Persian cats gets sick, I put the appropriate crystal in his or her sleeping corner. Once when pewter-haired Ishtar was stricken with diarrhea and throwing up everything she ate, I placed a pink quartz under her stomach while she slept the whole night. By the time I woke up the following morning, she was busy playing with her two-month kittens.

Often, like people, animals get sick due to stress. They are so sensitive to the energies around them that they easily get affected by negative energy waves. When there’s a lot of anger in the home, pet behavior can turn erratic. Some animals even absorb the negative energies released by their human companions. When this happens, stressed people usually say they always feel better when their pet is around. Problem is, it could be toxic for their animal friends.

Wildlife, or animals who don’t know you, are a different story. Long-distance mental healing would work best for them. When I was still a student in France, I used to spend my afternoons watching the swans as they gracefully glided along the Ill River in Strasbourg. I would give them bread and it came to a point when they would come rushing to shore as I approached the bridge. One day I noticed that one of the swans was limping and having a hard time coming to shore. For three days I did mental healing on him and at the same time I sent him a lot of love energy. I wasn’t sure I was getting anywhere but on the fourth day, he came to shore with the others and even stayed behind as if to thank me.

Sometimes, though, there are animals who can no longer be healed. For some of them, it’s simply time to leave. On such occasions, I just thank the animal for the love and company he shared with me. Often, they come back or reincarnate and end up with me again.

In China, Japan, Thailand, Australia, the United States and Europe, vets already use acupuncture on their animal patients. Acupuncture cures almost all diseases including arthritis and mental disorders. It is an ancient Chinese therapy that requires the insertion of needles into the skin at specific points in the body. Sluggish animals usually regain their energy after an acupuncture session.

There are still more kinds of alternative cures but nothing beat prevention. Exposure to the morning sun does a lot of good for the animals. And of course, lots of love and attention works wonders for them. It’s always the best way to heal – and protect – them from disease.