Image: Rojak Daily/Syamil
Cats are arguably one of the best animals to ever exist in the universe. Regardless of their scheming plans for world domination and human-mind control, you’ve got to admit; cats are really just fluffy felines that bring joy to the world.
Like seriously, how many times in a day have you caught yourself watching viral cat videos and smiling, before sharing it with your family and friends?
A lot of people generally like cats, some even take them as pets.
But for this family, their love and devotion for cats bear a new meaning.
Meet Natasha and Natalia Nazli Shah
, or known as Tasha and Alia, two doting sisters from a family of five whose love for cats has reached an indefinite height.
When we heard the story about their cats, we were excited to pay them a visit. Upon arriving at their house, we were literally swept away by the big enclosure!
If you went through our photos on our phones, you might think we’re at some cat café, but nope; it’s all in the comfort of their own home.
As a matter of fact, the place is very well put-together and looks better than the cat cafés you can find in Klang Valley.
The cosy place is equipped with fans, an air conditioner, an air purifier, extractor fans, isolation cages
(for whenever one of the cats are sick or recovering from surgery), ample food supply, wooden platforms
so they can climb and play, as well as a small staircase that leads up to a lounge area for the cats.
Oh, For The Love of Cats!
When we found out that they were taking care of over 80 cats
at their home, we were really impressed!
The cats were really friendly, tame, manja
, well-groomed, and well-fed.
“People always get excited when they come over, even relatives. They’re more excited to see the cats than us, to be honest,”
We know, you must be curious how on Earth did they manage to take in over 80 cats as pets?
Well for Tasha and Alia, their love for cats has actually seeped through generations. Their family have been long-time cat lovers for the past three generations.
However, it hasn’t always been this many. The number of cats started to grow about 10 years ago thanks to their noble hearts.
“When we were little, we only had like three to four cats. But it all changed 10 years ago. One day, a scrawny kitten waltzed into our home and adopted us. That's how it all started,” Tasha told Rojak Daily
“We usually find them on roadsides, drains, mosques, mamak stalls, and petrol stations
. Also some 'kind souls' will generously leave us kittens in a box. Most of them came frail and sick, some are just homeless. There were also cases when we actually bought them from the pet store because we were so kesian
of how small the cage that they were put in.”
From then on, the number of cats kept growing over the years. But besides rescuing the cats, some cats actually showed up on their doorsteps as if they knew that Tasha and Alia’s family members are cat lovers.
To date, their family has taken care of approximately 250 cats of all ages, colours, sizes, and breeds
. The oldest one to date is aged 12. Among the breeds that they have are Persian, domestic short-hair, Persian + maine coon, Siamese, and Persian + rag doll.
“It’s like a never-ending cycle, when one of them dies, another one mysteriously shows up,” Alia added.
Well, since they say cats have nine lives, maybe they came back in another form? Who knows?
Can They Even Remember All of Their Names?
We were intrigued to know if they did and the answer is yes!
Interestingly, each cat has a name that relates to their background story on how they were found or adopted.
For example, this is Wednesday. Not related to Wednesday Addams, but this furry ball of happiness was found during lunchtime at a restaurant on a… you guessed it, Wednesday!
When the Rojak Daily
team needed some assistance to gather the cats for some photos, Tasha and Alia proved that it was truly an easy feat for them as they could identify each cat and call their names immediately.
Their great memory is really a great advantage as they can sense if something is off or if one of the cats goes missing.
“Each cat has a personality. Some are very active and loud, some just like to chill. We can also know which cat is meowing at us every time we come home,” says Tasha.
"Some are just a little more quiet and timid than others, so those are the ones we keep a closer eye on,” added Alia.
What Happens When They Die?
Well, apart from going to cat heaven, their family will bury their cats within the house compound at a tree. There’s a rock to signify each cat that’s buried there.
And if you’re a true cat lover, you’ll know what’s the most heart-breaking process in this event – crying and trying to mourn in private.
"There was a year where the kittens kept dying of a fatal, incurable disease (FIP), it was indeed a rough year for all of us. It wasn’t easy but we got through it”
, told Alia.
Does It Cost A Bomb to Take Care of Them?
If we told you the actual cost, you’d be surprised and say, “are you kitten me?” Well appaw-rently, not.
The expenses for the cats costs them about RM3,000 a month
, excluding vet fees.
“If it’s a good month, there will be no vet visits, other than the yearly vaccinations. If they get sick, the bill could fetch up to RM4,000
. At one point, it shot up to RM10,000
because one of the cats was terminally ill,” chimed Tasha and Alia’s mom.
About RM2,000 to RM2,300 is spent on food and around RM600 for cat litter.
As for grooming, they prefer to do it themselves. Only on certain occasions that they will send the cats to a grooming centre.
Some people might have the perception of “why are you spending so much money on cats? Isn’t it a waste?”
Well for Tasha, her family’s love for cats has transcended the value of money.
“Well I think we need to see it from both sides. For people like us, it's something we're used to. We've lived with cats all our lives. You grow up with them. You grow to love them to the point that they become family. Anyone who loves their pets would understand that. And you'd do your best to give them the best life possible.
“But to people who haven't had that experience or are not exposed to animals, they won’t understand that and it’s okay. I think what's important is that people aren't cruel to animals.”
Growing Old with Our Purr-fect Friends
So, what does the future hold for these cats and Tasha and Alia’s family?
Their family can foresee that they will continue to take care a great number of cats in the future. The family's dream is to create and own a cat sanctuary where their cats can roam and jump around anywhere they like
. With ample space, they can take on more cats and care for them.
Alia jokingly told us although she fears that she’ll end up sounding like a crazy cat lady (aren’t we all though?), she will always look after her cats to her best capabilities.
Their family is very particular when it comes to caring after cats which is why they will never sell off or giveaway their cats.
“We’ve cared for them since they were a few days old or when they were found sick. I worry that people might not be as committed when it comes to taking care of sick or chronically ill cats as it requires a lot of time and patience.
Plus, we’re really attached to all of them”, Alia told us.
Caring for cats may seem easy but it is indeed the polar opposite. It takes a lot of dedication, love, commitment, effort, and time into making sure these cats are well cared of; physically and mentally.
We applaud Natasha and Natalia’s family for their noble efforts and also treating their cats like their own family members. They are truly indeed Malaysia's ultimate cat family!
Know someone else who loves cats and takes care of them like this family does? Share your story with us in the comment section!