Junior embraces life as a cat owner


Photo contributed by Elizabeth Tial

Hniang-Koh (left) and Madam (right) are sister strays cuddling with Hniang-Koh’s son, Leo, on May 2, 2021. They gave birth around the same time.

Junior Elizabeth Tial remembers taking care of an abandoned kitten eight years ago. She named the cat, Kapi, because she seemed older than other cats. Kapi means Grandma in her native language, which is Falam. 

This time in her life meant so much to her because before, when she lived in Myanmar, pets weren’t allowed inside the house. 

Now, Tial has six cats in total and finds happiness in each and every one of them. “…They have different personalities,” Tial said.

 When Tial took her first cat in, her mother, Emily Thiam, did not approve. Now, Tial’s mother has adapted to living with cats because Tial has committed to taking care of them.

2-year-old Sokka watches his owner during feeding time on April 10. He wears a bell so that others do not mistaken him for a stray. (Photo contributed by Elizabeth Tial)

She spends about $150 a month for food now that her cats have become adults. When they were kittens, it was more expensive due to the essential nutrients. The cats also visit FACE, a  low-Cost animal clinic. 

She is able to afford this because her older sibling helps and together, they divide the cost. Tial plans to get a job in the future so that she

can spoil her cats and buy better toys.

“At the end of the day, they all cuddle with me, so I don’t think working will hinder my relationship or my closure to my cats,’’ Tial said. 

Even though the finances can add up, Tial says it’s all worth it because she loves them. 

She remembers that during a winter storm, two of her cats, Hniang-Ko and Madam and their kittens stayed outside because they were not used to humans at the time. As she kept changing their water every so often, they soon became comfortable enough for her to pet and hold them.

“That made me realize that if I let them go, there might be some untrustable humans that do very bad things to cats,’’ Tial said. 

Through all this, Tial believes that the key to being a good cat owner is to take care of them properly and give them an abundant amount of love and respect.