Animal therapy for the petless.

I love animals. Until I moved to Japan at age 14, I had pets – multiple pets – at any given time. As a toddler, my family had two cats and two dogs. In China, we had a fluctuating population of fish, two dogs, a rescued cat, several hamsters (never more than two at a time) and two rabbits. I don’t know if we can count the rabbits, as we didn’t have them for very long; one caught an infection and the other broke their neck out of fear of my small dog, who thought the bunny was another one of her puppies.

Upon moving to Japan, I begged my parents to let me have pets. They didn’t want to get a dog, as they didn’t want to leave the poor dog home alone for hours at a time. (In China, like other expats, we had an aiyi –maid– who was at home during the day.) I couldn’t convince them to let me have a hamster either. To get my regular dose of furry cuddles, I took care of a family friend’s cats while they were away, and I sometimes walked a nearby family’s dog. I would have loved having my own pet though.

It’s even harder now, as my flat doesn’t have the space for me, let alone a pet. I want to move into somewhere larger, but even then, I’d have to negotiate with the landlord to have a pet. Plus, a pet is an extra cost and commitment. If I want to move to another country, it’s an extra hassle to organise either a rehoming or a migration.

I still want a pet though. I remember how my one dog in Shanghai used to come lie on my bed, somehow sensing when I needed a little comfort. She would just lie there next to me, a silent, supportive warmth. She loved me, and she didn’t judge or talk back. She just loved.

Anyway, getting to the point of all this, I want to share with you the Spice Kittens. You can watch them live here: http://new.livestream.com/FosterKittenCam/TheSpiceKittens

Here are a few teaser videos:

So why “munchkin”?

Munchkins are cats with shorter legs. It’s a hereditary trait, and unlike with Scottish folds, it does not come with a set of health problems. Munchkins can do everything a normal cat can do. They just happen to look much cuter doing it!

Munchkin kitten!

A munchkin kitten.

But why have I taken this name to heart?

Because I like differences, and munchkins represent ‘differentness’ in an absolutely adorable way. Just because munchkins don’t match our idea of a ‘normal’ cat, doesn’t mean they can’t do things that ‘normal’ cats can.

munchkin!

A dancing munchkin!

Other cute animals that are slightly atypical and therefore dear to me are:

Scottish folds.