Alice Sarmiento: Kitten foster parent
Not a lot of people are aware that stray animals – especially cats – on the streets need love and attention, too, and when properly cared for, can become sweet and lovable companions.
Alice Sarmiento is a part-time lecturer for basic apparel design and construction under the Clothing Technology program at the University of the Philippines, College of Home Economics. She is also a freelance writer and curator who works with artists and galleries and is also foster cat parent who does humane education with The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
What does being a foster cat parent entail?
“As fosterers, we only take the animals when they’re at their most vulnerable, which usually means when they’re between zero to six months of age for cats,” Sarmiento said. “I rarely work with dogs because they are generally easier to adopt out and culturally more acceptable as pets – although cats are catching up, thanks to the Internet.”
Finding her calling
Sarmiento has always been an animal lover — her house is filled with cats and dogs. She told us about how she decided to foster kittens and become involved in animal welfare activities.
“The first time I ever took in a kitten was out of pity. I literally had to peel her off a sidewalk, where she was sleeping from (what I assume was) exhaustion. I had no idea how to care for cats because I’ve always been deathly allergic to them (I still am, I just take a lot of antihistamines and keep my apartment clean),” she said. “My first kitten, Strawberry, died after a few weeks, but within that short period I had gotten so attached to her that seeing her suffer just broke my heart. I tried to donate her stuff to PAWS, but after learning how much they needed volunteers, I ended up taking home another kitten instead.”
“From there, I worked to correct my mistakes with Strawberry, and let their vet and admin staff guide me through the process of raising small kittens to be mighty cats. I ended up adopting my first foster cat, Sandwich, and he is now a gwapo but very territorial dude.”
Sarmiento decided to work specifically with cats, mainly because there are so many of them. “There are about 75 dogs and anywhere between 250 and maybe 280 cats at PAWS on any given day.
She also feels a stronger connection to cats. “People are always saying that cats are disloyal, indifferent, and aggressive when provoked, but I have the feeling that those are people who have never really spent time with cats and just buy into the stereotype,” Sarmiento said.
Animal welfare advocate
Being an animal welfare advocate can be tough, and it’s usually because of other people (the animals themselves are fine). “We get a lot of negative and mean-spirited remarks about how we’re wasting our time caring for animals when people are suffering, too. This is baffling and misguided, because compassion knows no species and just because you advocate to care for one does not mean you can’t care for the other,” Sarmiento said.
Sarmiento currently lives with three kittens and seven cats. “It’s rewarding and heartwarming, but no pressure if you don’t like cats. That’s totally fine, just don’t hurt them.”