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‘Pets help us stave off corona loneliness’

Jeremy, Njeri and Chui.
Jeremy, Njeri and Chui. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Stuck at home with her husband and two old cats following coronavirus stay-at-home orders, Lucy Owuor, a 41-year-old started craving for another pet that was more playful; a feline that would add life to their house.

A few weeks ago, she got a three-weeks-old kitten with bluish eyes.

Her newfound joy, she says, is passing time by watching the snow-white kitten play, hide from the other older cats marking their territory by scratching it, feeding it, and occasionally taking it to the veterinarian, which allows her to go outdoors and drive a few kilometres from her house.

As the coronavirus spread comes with more stringent measures, pets are offering companionship to many people who now have no social lives.

Njeri and Jeremy Ogembo are feline lovers. Their love started with their love from cats.

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In their home in Nairobi, they have a cat called Chui, which they consider a gem especially during this time of Covid-19.

“There's something peaceful about cats that makes me have a different perspective about life. Because we give him all the attention, we’re able to focus on something other than ourselves and the pandemic and also be grateful that we're still strong and standing,” Njeri says.

Being at home for an indefinite period can be overwhelming. But their furry friend, which has no idea what is happening to the world around it, is helping keep them calm.

“Cats are amazing. They’re adorable and they do funny silly things, keeping you amused and entertained. You can talk to them, and they pretend to listen. In the evening, Chui miaow at the door, waiting for me. It's such a good feeling,” says Jeremy.

Keep children busy

For Beatrice Lugadiru's family-of-four, they have a dog that gives them daily joy.

“Our dog’s name is Fluffy. He’s three years old,” says Yanza, who is five years old.

The Lugadirus love animals. Before Fluffy, they had two hamsters.

“With four children at home, Fluffy ensures they don't get bored. We now spend all day with him unlike before when we’d play with Fluffy only in the evenings and weekends," she says.

“Unfortunately, we don't let him outside the gate as much as before,” adds Asangara, who is seven and loves dancing to pass time.

Closest companion

The children attend online classes and the dog is always waiting to play with them during ‘breaktime.’

“It teaches them responsibility, giving and receiving love, commitment, and perseverance, life-skills, and values that we need during this time,” Beatrice says.

As the children bath or feed Fluffy, Beatrice can also complete a task or two without being interrupted.

Another person grateful to have pets during this period is Simon Walsh.

“I was a real believer that dogs belong outdoors,” he says.

But when he got Flora about 10 years ago, he changed his mind. Now he has four dogs.

As a bachelor, working from home, his dogs are his closest companions.

“They keep me company. My favourite times are when I’m watching TV and all four of them just come, sit on me and I get to cuddle them,” he says.

“It gives me joy. Watching them sometimes makes me laugh. This relaxes me and eases the loneliness. The dogs also offer great security and are incredible food recycling machines. I have an almost zero-food waste lifestyle,” he says.

With extra time on his hands, he now takes them for long walks, helping him surpass his exercise target.

Any post-Covid-19 plans? “Of course. We’ll get Chui a wife. Life’s too short to be alone,” Jeremy says.

And Simon says, “I’ll probably think about getting a partner. Hope my dogs won’t mind,” he says.

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