Saturday, January 29, 2011

Life in Cambodia- Part 3- Cats & Dogs

Many of you are pet owners, and I thought it might be interesting to report on my observations about pets (cats & dogs) on the other side of the world. 
Last year a British volunteer for the Ponheary Ly Foundation made the following blanket statement:  “All Cambodian dogs look alike.”  Take a look at the following pics, and you decide. 

We nicknamed him 'Earmuffs'

I will grant you her one thing….all Cambodian dogs act alike.  Almost anywhere you go, chances are you’ll see one sleeping - dog-tired and lazy from the heat.  I’ve even seen one sleeping in the middle of a main road at 3 am.  They invariably find a place in the shade or a cool pile of sand, or under a table… and they snooze.   
Cambodian dogs are either too tired (or indifferent) to raise their heads or move aside.  Occasionally, I’ve encountered a sleeping dog in the middle my path, and had to step over it…. and it neither blinked nor moved a whisker.  I still carry the caution of my youth about strange dogs, so if I see one with food, I give it a wide berth.  Still, in the entire time we’ve been here, I’ve yet to be challenged by any dog defending its territory or young.
Interestingly enough, all the female dogs we see have long teats, so they've obviously whelped several litters, but until a few weeks ago, we’d never seen puppies - never.  The puppies we’ve seen recently are either a special (pure?) breed, or found out in the countryside…. which leads me to wonder what happens to all the puppies?  Just saying…..
Even rarer than puppies are cats.  I don’t know if they’re just all out somewhere catching mice (or whatever vermin happens to be available), but I doesn’t seem to me that cats are generally kept as house pets here like dogs.  The first time I saw a Cambodian cat, I thought its tail had been slammed in a door, because it was short and all bent out of shape.   When most of the cats I saw after that had the same tails, I realized it must be some strange dominant gene.  They do look SO funny.  Occasionally I’ll see a long-tailed cat, but up till now, I’ve never seen a long-haired cat.  Maybe long hair just doesn’t cut it in this heat. 

OB Joyful - notice the crooked, cropped tail

Longer crooked tail

Normal tail 

The two orphanage cats at Honour Village are very different, and very special.  OB Happy(male) and OB Joyful (female) are still in the late kitten (or early teenage) stage.  They are house pets, in the same sense as we in North America have them, except they are so used to being constantly held and carried by children and staff alike, they have become totally spoiled.  OB Happy especially has to be part of the action, and insists on being cradled like a baby.
Khanit with OB Happy

I find it amusing to see cat and dog products (food, treats, shampoo, toys, etc) in all the stores.  These are obviously aimed at ex-pats, sinc there’s no way the average Cambodian could ever afford such lavish extravagance on a pet.  (Keep in mind the average Cambodian makes about $1/day, which often has to support an entire family.)  
Price = $6.00

Anyways, it is refreshing to see that OB Happy and OB Joyful are surviving well on the same thing we eat… rice, fish and vegetables.   Yum, yum!

1 comment:

  1. A Cambodian family has bought our home. We have an outside cat that comes inside if he needs to be petted or fed. He is neutered and up-to-date on his shots and we will have him groomed. The new family has asked if we might leave the cat with them when we move. Since we are moving to an apartment, he wouldn't be happy there.