From listing their pets on their wills to spending big bucks to give their pets VIP treatments, these city women spoke to Daily Nation about why pets make for great partners.

Naomi Mutua, 40s, PR Practitioner, Nairobi, has five cats

“I grew up on a farm. Our home was also the home to several cats and dogs. I was however more attached to the cats.

I have always owned a cat. When house hunting, one of the questions I ask is, ‘do you allow pets here?’ There is no compromise. Cats are my family.

For the last 20 years, I have owned nine cats. One lived for 17 grand years. Her name was Sami Sofapaka. When she died in 2016, it felt like I had lost a best friend.

I mourned her for a long time and still miss her. I still find it difficult to delete her Twitter account — yes, she had one, @Sofa_Paka

Currently, I have five — Chui, Tangawizi, Cosmo, Bailey, and Ari. Tangawizi is ginger-coloured; Cosmo because he is my world (cosmos); Bailey, because I always wanted a pet with that name, and Ari, coined from Riara, the road where he was found. All five are rescues.

Each time I see a homeless cat, I think to myself, ‘I could squeeze my space for one more cat’, but I cannot afford to take care of all the homeless cats.

COST

I foster others and then find them homes. Presently, I have a kitten who was found at the delicate age of one week. Her name is Meep because she was always making those sounds, ‘Meep! Meep!’

I consider myself as their ‘hu-mom’. As their sole caregiver. Taking care of pets can be a costly affair. I spend about Sh10,000 every month on food and cat litter.

The veterinary bill is a whole new conversation. Let us just say, between my cats and the various rescues I make, the vet makes a tidy sum off me each year. ‘You bring the cat; let us talk about payments of the bills later.’ My vet says.

They are my children. Many times, I go to the supermarket to buy something for myself but end up meeting their needs first.

And sometimes I spoil them with fancy cat collars, toys, bowls, and fleece blankets among other things. There is this time I forgot to buy them food and I had to drive to a 24-hour supermarket at 2am. There is nothing louder than a hungry cat.

‘All these cats? Are you lonely? Is it because you do not have children?’ Some ask.

PERSONALITIES

Frankly, that is a rude assumption. I do not have cats because I am lonely. I just happen to love them very much.

Attachment to a pet does not mean they are a substitute for a human. People who have significant others have pets too, right?

People who do not like cats are not welcome in my house because I cannot change how I am. And, it includes my dating life — if you do not like animals, we cannot be together.

Some of my past relationships have been tested because of my love for cats.

Many people say cats are difficult to live with — they are hard to train, poo and pee anywhere, scratch your furniture, and do not love you back. I beg to differ.

Just like any other being, they have personalities and emotions. Chui, for instance, follows me everywhere and is quite attached and vocal.

Cosmo, on the other hand, comes for attention at certain times. Ari and Tangawizi go about their business but always come to me for petting and cuddling in the evening. Bailey is super shy, but he will occasionally let you pet him.

EMERGENCY

My pets are extremely loyal and loving. They will keep you laughing with their quirky antics. They have a place in my heart that no other being can fill. It is just what it is.

Taking care of pets is like taking care of a small baby. You never stop worrying about them.

There is this time Bailey, who is almost completely blind, extremely nervous and shy, got out of the apartment into the yard and hid in my neighbour’s car engine. He drove off to the mall and a guard spotted him and alerted my neighbour who called me.

I panicked, knowing how lost he must be and left the office in a rush. It was a fast drive and I kept hoping he was unharmed. It took two vets, the security guard and three KSPCA staff to get him. This was after a three-hour attempt!

Cats are creatures of habit. I had a cat named Baby Boy, who was resistant to my moving house. I had moved from Buruburu to South C and he walked back to my former home where neighbours alerted me. He refused to move out for a week.

INHERITANCE

When I travel, my nephew stays over or my housekeeper drops in every day. One time I had to pay my housekeeper to stay in for two months to take care of them as I was travelling. Costly? yes, but I like them comfortable.

My five cats are part of my will and I have already identified one of my sisters and my best friend to take care of them after my death.

They have pets too, so they understand why I love them. If I were filthy rich, I would leave all my money to animal welfare institutions.”

Maryanne Gicobi, 30, Communications Consultant, has one dog

“On the day my puppy, Minnie, was delivered, I was so excited. I had even bought her a beautiful pink collar to welcome her home. She leaned on my shoulders calmly, and at that moment I knew I had found a new friend.

I named her Minnie in remembrance of a dog we lost many years back. I grew up in a home where we had cats and dogs. She is fluffy and looks like a teddy bear.

If I take longer than usual in the shower, Minnie will start knocking or scratching the door. Minnie will whine and make sad sounds when I lock her up in another room.

Our bond gets stronger by the day. When I come home from running an errand, she will jump and wag her tail, her way of welcoming me home.

She makes me feel appreciated. When I am sleeping on the couch, she gives me sweet snuggles.

For a long time, I wanted to bring a puppy home but I was working full time. Now, it is much easier as I work flexible hours.

When I got her, I did not even tell my husband. He just came home and there she was. You should have seen how surprised he was.

My mother, however, finds it crazy that I spent so much money to get her. ‘Maryanne, how can you keep a dog in an apartment?’

To her, dogs are for security and they are outdoor animals.

To ensure there is no mess in the house, I keep a regular feeding timetable. I also have had to monitor her sleeping time — if she sleeps too much during the day, she loses sleep and demands play in the wee hours of the morning.

PLANNING

I cannot just wake up and travel. I have to plan what she will eat and who will take care of her.

She chews everything from shoes, electricity cables, my potted flowers, rummages dustbin and drags anything and everything into the house. Therefore, I have to keep everything out of her reach.

Many are the times I make sacrifices to meet her needs first. I spend Sh400 every fortnight to buy meat and Sh1,000 to buy dog food.

I also had to spend on her hair drier, leash, toys, vaccines, flea spray. Minnie does not replace human interaction, but she makes me feel fulfilled in a way.

Will I leave her something when writing my will? The truth is I have not thought of writing my will yet.

Source: Daily Nation