This is the cat who lives in our building lobby. He goes by several names, but we like to call him Needy Cat, because he likes to hog all the cuddles from the residents.


He has been spayed, so he became very chubby.  The janitors feed him on the sly, because building rules prohibit feeding strays. Obviously he’s not a stray anymore.  This is how he likes to sit, even though he doesn’t know where to put his belly.


I really like Needy Cat. He comes when I call. I wave my hand and make meowing noises and then he runs to me. He loves being petted. I love petting him, feeling that round tummy.



This is our little budgerigar, Snowball. He’s been with us just over a month.  We got him as a freebie when my sister bought a blue one. Sadly, the blue budgie was returned to the breeder after a few days because it was unhappy and was tearing its own feathers out. We decided to keep Snowball, as he is a sweeter, better-behaved bird.  He likes “grooming” our fingers, and enjoys having his head and neck gently scratched. There are days he’s stand-offish, and days when he would chitter away in protest that we’re not paying him enough attention.  He has a swing and a brass bell toy, a rope ladder and his favorite, the toilet roll tube. Everyone in the family is charmed by him. He is a smarter, more interactive pet than our late guinea pig, Walnut.

Daily Prompt: Protest



This is Putol (Filipino for “cut”), named so because of his stubby tail.  He obliged my niece with a Christmas photo shoot one afternoon.


He is one of the cats which hang around our building. People feed the cats secretly because there is a rule about not letting stray cats proliferate.  He likes my niece.  They play often.


I love that faraway look in his eyes.




Walnut the guinea pig crossed the Rainbow Bridge last Sunday. She was with us for 4 years and 9 months. She died peacefully, of old age. By then she could barely see; her eyes looked like they had cataracts, and we suspect she found her food and water by smell, in her last days.

She had been a very pretty long-haired guinea pig, a Sheltie. She wasn’t very affectionate, unlike our previous guinea pig Moonball. She was territorial, for one thing, and for the while they were living together we had to place them in different, but neighboring, enclosures. She was skittish and wary of strangers. She also liked to chew up the newspaper lining her space. As pets went, she was pretty low-maintenance – she was an eating machine that we would admire and try to pet occasionally.

Guinea pigs live for an average of 4-5 years. Moonball, our American short-hair, lasted for 4 years, but she contracted a kind of pneumonia and did not survive it. I still miss her greeting me very enthusiastically in the mornings, and nuzzling against me when I had her on my lap.

My eleven-year-old niece then asked hopefully if we could get a dog next. My sister was not prepared to take on a more vigorous pet that required the attention one would give to a growing child. So instead she got an albino budgie-parakeet, named Snowball. He requires a lot of attention, but is not as rambunctious as a dog would be, and is quite entertaining to boot. Budgies tend to live for about 5 to 8 years, so we expect to enjoy him that long.

Daily Prompt: Vigor


wheatgrass-01At the end of February, my sister Joy started a new project – growing wheatgrass for our pets Moonball and Walnut.  We live in a condo building, and usually have a hard time getting fresh grass.  We do mostly small container gardening in the balconies.  We give our guinea pigs some inexpensive leafy vegetables, but they’re not a substitute for fresh, sweet grass.  So Joy did her homework, and discovered a very good tutorial on  There are also many blogs that have excellent how-to videos and directions as well.

It was a challenge finding the seeds.  At first Joy went to a feed store and bought oat groats, but only a small percentage of that sprouted and grew.  She later remembered that Healthy Options Shangri-la had a selection of organic grains for sale.  She found some Bob’s Red Mill brand “Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries” and “Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries” which were being sold for P169 per 2-lb pack.  Oddly this was a better price than what was being offered at Manila Seedling Bank.

The grains are soaked (and drained, and soaked, and drained) for anywhere from 8 hours to 18 hours.  They are later spread on potting mix or shredded newspaper in small recycled take-out containers, and left to grow, covered, in a dark area until they sprout and etiolate (grow pale grass shoots without sunlight).  After some time the shoots are transferred to an area with indirect sunlight, and the grass shoots eventually turn green.  They are spray-watered several times a day.  By the time the grass reaches 5-7″ it is ready to harvest. Joy does staggered plantings so she has a harvest every day, or every other day.  A serving of wheatgrass in a low take-out tray is enough to feed the guinea pigs – it’s only meant to be a treat, since they have pellets for daily sustenance.

wheatgrass-02One day instead of cutting the wheatgrass and putting it in a bowl, we decided to give Moonball and Walnut the entire tray.  They loved it!

wheatgrass-03wheatgrass-04The mowed-down grass, root system and potting mix are then shredded and returned to our little compost bin for later re-use.  We’ve tried growing some wheatgrass in A4-sized low plastic containers for wheatgrass juice, but the yield was quite low – after a spell in a Jack Lalanne juicer, we only produced about 5 oz for 2 containers’ worth of grass!  We fed the discarded grass from the juicer to Moonball and Walnut, so nothing was wasted.  That was worth a try anyway 🙂


Last Sunday, my sister Joy surprised me with a text.  “Check your email for important bulletin!” I was so intrigued I immediately opened my email.

I saw this:


A walking ball of fur with eyes!  “Her name is Walnut.”  Our other guinea pig, Moonball, is an American shorthaired cavy, so the prospect of caring for a fancier breed was exciting.  Walnut is approximately 4 months old, what they call a Sheltie or Silkie.  A cavy with Justin Bieber hair.  My brother-in-law Tristan picked her out of a lineup at the Northeast Greenhills Sunday Market, and paid P500.  He says he was enamored by her black button eyes and teddy bear looks.

Joy and Tristan decided to get another cavy to keep Moonball company, because they’d read that cavies are social animals.  Moonball is now a year and a half old, so it was interesting to see how she’d bond with another cavy half her size.  Walnut was skittish, and tended to run away everytime Moonball would attempt to smell or lick her.  Good thing we had a couple of shelters – a huge PVC T-joint and an overturned plastic basket with cut-out sides – inside what we like to call the cavy-tat.

walnut-01Eventually, Walnut’s hunger forced her to leave the T-joint and join Moonball (and her bulk) at the food bowl.

walnut-05walnut-02walnut-03At first we were concerned that Moonball would hog the food bowl, but Walnut managed to get her share of pellets.

Tristan would occasionally capture Walnut so Joy could give her a dose of Vitamin C from a syringe, and so Walnut would get used to handling and grooming.  Right now she fits on Tristan’s palm:


Joy also rebuilt the cavy-tat from a 2×3 to a 2×4 Stack-and-Rack cage held together with cable ties with a coro-plast box inside.  The coro-plast (corrugated plastic) box is lined with an extra-large garbage bag and old newspapers, followed by a green plastic mesh floor where poop and urine could pass through.  This makes it easy for us to collect the poop and newspapers for my mom’s composting needs.

cavytatIn the evenings after dinner we like to sit on the sofa and watch Walnut and Moonball run around or eat.  Since they’re still getting acquainted, there’s a lot of chasing going on.  Walnut is a perky little thing; despite being wary of the bigger Moonball, she has learned to spend more time out in the open instead of hiding in the T-joint all the time.

Right now Moonball is about 800 grams and is about as big as a puppy.  She is well socialized with humans, so she actually enjoys being picked up and cuddled every so often.  She’s also potty-trained – she only pees and poops on the old newspaper folded in the corners of the cavy-tat.  We’re hoping Walnut catches on.

Cavies have a lifespan of about 4-6 years, given the best possible care.  We plan to enjoy these two pets for as long as we can.