‘Our pets kept us company, helped us through the pandemic’

Muzariah Mohamad, Sarifuddin Mohd Noor and their two sons are the proud owners of six different types of purebred British shorthair cats and one “unknown breed” fish.

We have Van Damme (lilac), Chinook (bicolor) Goku (golden shaded), Gvenia (Calico), Hakeem (chinchilla) and Fatcoom (blue cream). And the fish is called Baby, ”says Muzariah.

“We had a school of fish but only Baby survived, the rest all died,” she says.

Having their pets, says Sariffudin, helped them get through the pandemic.

“It was pretty stressful not being able to go out during the pandemic. There were no sensory activities available at home except our pets.

“Living in a high rise building can be stressful since there isn’t a garden, and you can’t just look over the wall or fence and talk to your neighbor,” he says.

“You’re cooped up in a pigeonhole, It’s just the four walls and your family members. You don’t have any interaction with the outside world.

“But there are your pets who are always there for you and they give you affection,” he adds.

“So having pets helped us get through the pandemic, they’re a stress reliever. You can talk, hug and stroke them. ”

“Our cats are well behaved and not naughty. When they’re hungry, they’ll ask for food. They have their own sandbox to relieve themselves. When they want to interact, they will come and sit next to you, ”he says.

Sarifuddin having a moment with VanDamme.Sarifuddin having a moment with VanDamme.On April 1, the country’s transition to the endemic phase began, but there isn’t much difference to Muzariah who has been working throughout the pandemic.

She isn’t too worried about the transition to the endemic phase because “life has to go on.”

The 52-year-old geophysicist consultant works offshore and was in Miri, Sarawak, at the time of the interview, and will be traveling to the Philippines for work next.

“Being in the oil and gas industry, we’re an essential service, so work goes on whether it’s the pandemic or endemic phase. It was only for several weeks during the first MCO that things were closed and we had to stay at home, ”she says.

“I’m not worried about the transition to endemic phase because life has to go on. The Covid-19 pandemic is something you can’t avoid – it’s a reality so you just have to adapt to the situation, ”she adds.

Sariffudin, 53, is a consultant and has been working from their home in Petaling Jaya, even before the pandemic.

“We avoid crowded areas, and if we have to go out, it’ll be earlier in the morning when there are fewer people,” says Sariffudin.

Muzariah and Sariffudin have two sons: Mirza, 24, who is doing his masters in university, and Adam, 20, a special needs child who has Down’s Syndrome. Both of them are currently studying from home.

‘They keep us sane’

To Sariffudin, their pets are like his children and they give him the motivation to get through each day.

“They keep us sane and our mind active.”

Two of their cats were rescues, the couple reveals.

“The first one was neglected by the breeder and in a bad condition. When I saw it, I felt very kesian (sympathetic) and told the breeder, never mind, just send it to me and I’ll pay for it and take care of it, ”she says.

“The other one was during the floods in Shah Alam. The pet shop owner couldn’t take care of the cat because the shop was flooded, so he asked me for help. He gave me the cat because circumstances made it difficult for him to look after it, ”she adds.

The couple reveals that looking after their pets isn’t an issue, even in the endemic phase when they may probably spend less time at home.

“It wasn’t a problem during the pandemic and we don’t anticipate any issues as we progress towards the endemic phase,” the couple said.

Baby, the lone fish in the family.Baby, the lone fish in the family.

“We take turns looking after them when Muza is at home,” says Sariffudin. Having pets is a commitment and you’ve to consider all the factors.

“We do what needs to be done like feeding the cats, changing the kitty litter, etc,” he says.

“Having cats at home is therapeutic. We initially got the cats for our two sons, especially our younger son because he’s at home most of the time. They are like friends for him to play with, ”says Muzariah.

“My younger boy was in a special needs school (before the pandemic) but now studies / learns at home,” she says.

“But it’s also therapeutic for us adults to have them around,” she adds.

According to Muzariah who is a hypertension patient, having contact with pets helps lower her blood pressure and manages stress.

“When you touch, hug, stroke, or carry your pets, it calms you down,” she says.

“Having pets helps manage stress, your personality changes and you become more empathetic, compassionate and patient because you’ve a small being to look after.

“Even pets that are naughty often make your day because you’ll laugh at their funny antics,” she adds and laughs.

“Even though we may go out more, we still look forward to going home to be with our pets because they’re family too,” Sariffudin concludes.


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