Kristina Vesk is the Chief Executive Officer of Cat Protection Society NSW. She has lived with cats all her life. When she was 10, Kristina took home a starving stray kitten called Tina. She was living proof that former street cats can make the most wonderful, loyal and loving pets. Kristina now has Lucy, adopted from Cat Protection Society NSW of course.
Kristina says pets are a vital part of our social fabric. She shares her tips for choosing a cat or two to be your life-long furry friend.
Who’s the Boss? When did your passion for the feline species start?
Kristina: I’ve lived with cats all my life and loved them since I can remember. After my first childhood cat, Blackie (a gorgeous tuxedo boy) passed, we had a lovely tabby called Tiger who was later joined by Tina, also tabby, a starving stray kitten I picked up on my way home from school when I was 10. She was living proof that former street cats can make the most wonderful, loyal and loving pets. Beyond primary school fantasies of becoming a vet I’d never considered a career with animals; my house always had cats but my work was public affairs and social policy. When this role came up, it was an exceptional opportunity to bring together all these passions. Cats – pets – are a vital part of our social fabric. They matter individually; they matter to individuals; and because of that, they matter to society.
Who’s the Boss? How did you choose your current cat, Lucy?
Kristina: We adopted Lucy in late 2006. Her mum was a stray who came to Cat Protection with her kittens. Lucy was the last to be adopted as she was the last to be desexed, owing to being so small. She was a tiny black and white dynamo and my daughter and I adored her spirit. A feisty girl; that was going to work for us.
Who’s the Boss? What’s your cat’s personality like?
Kristina: She is more of a lady now, her figure is perhaps a little matronly, but her face still conveys very strong opinions on pretty much everything. And when there’s catnip about, she is full of kitten spirit.
Who’s the Boss? Who’s the boss in your household?
Kristina: You even ask?
Who’s the Boss? What are your 3 tips for choosing a cat?
Kristina: With the exception of longhair versus shorthair (which matters because you must consider whether you’re prepared for daily grooming) don’t think about appearance. White cats, black cats, tabbies, calicos, moggies or pedigrees … they’re all gorgeous but it is the personality that matters! If you want a life-long friend, you don’t choose by their looks, whether the friend is human or feline.
- Take the time to see whether the cat likes you – cats also have preferences and these should be respected. Even traumatised, shy and ‘difficult’ cats will still respond better to some people than others. At Cat Protection, we see our cats as equal partners in the adoption process; if they instinctively dislike someone, it’s unlikely they will change their mind. It’s not a judgement on the person per se. Something about the person might trigger a bad memory in the cat, they might have a scent that disturbs the cat … Whatever it is, bonding is more likely to be successful when cats and people get off to a good start, so respect the cat’s instincts and listen to your own.
- Your lifestyle matters very much and you need to consider your future plans. Raising kittens and kids together is a traditional path and an awesome one; they share their active and playful years then when the children are older and studying and going out, the cats are more into chasing the sun for the best sleeping spots throughout the day. If you have future plans to travel, think about adopting a senior cat so they can enjoy their last few years at loving home.
- If you want two cats (and who doesn’t) adopt kitten siblings or a bonded adult pair together, it’s much easier than managing later introductions. And if you want just one cat, then please choose a cat who has been identified as a solo cat so you don’t end up with one lonely cat.