EASY MAGAZINE: Kitty kingdom
SHE STARTS her days at 4 a.m. taking care of them. She spends more than $400 monthly on them. Whenever she returns home, she is greeted by them. And at night, like one big, happy family, they all huddle in her warm bed.
Aletha Jobe’s face lights up whenever she speaks about her 14 cats. The Vincentian professional caretaker says it all started three years ago when she was given a cat she named Star.
She was told it was male but one day she realised Star was heavier than usual. “She was pregnant and had kittens; she had four kittens,” Jobe recalls.
“The rest is history.”
In all, more than 20 cats have lived under her roof over the past three years.
“Some of the other cats here are strays,” she readily admits. “But I feed them and care for them as if they were part of my original cat family.”
She fondly recollects how she came into contact with one of her pets about a year ago: “One morning I went walking. I heard this sound and when
I checked, it was a kitten in the bushes. I took it up and brought it home. That one later had four kittens.”
The cats come and go as they please since Jobe has made minor alterations to her home to facilitate their movement.
When Easy magazine visited the cat lover and her charges around 2 p.m. last Monday, it was “playtime” for the felines who had just been fed.
The mother of three, who migrated here in 1976, recently lost one of the cats and described the death as “akin to losing a family member”.
“I came home after 7 p.m. Sunday and saw a cat in the road,” she remarks. “I drove around it. When I got home, my neighbour told me a car driver had just killed my cat. It hurt me deeply.
“Funny enough, that same neighbour is the one who found that cat as a kitten by the hospital bus stop and brought it here to me. I cared for it and watched it grow. She, in turn, had three kittens.”
Jobe says she is touched by their show of affection towards her, especially when she is not well.
“They are very good companions, very sensible and sensitive,” she points out. “A few climb up on me and fall asleep in my lap. Some are special and only eat on the table. Others eat anywhere I put the food. But one thing is they don’t like strangers. When people come to the house they shy away, [going] outside or in corners.”
The kitty chow alone costs $70 and only lasts a week. The vitamins and worm medicine for the cats add up to more than $100 a month. The kitty litter is $17 a bag and she uses two a month.
Jobe also takes it upon her self to feed stray chickens and ducks that wander onto her property.
The 58-year-old, who celebrates her birthday next month, is by no means using the pets to substitute for human contact.
Jobe provides private home help daily, leaving her home at Skeete’s Road, Jackman’s, St Michael, and journeying to Maxwell, Christ Church, where she is paid to take care of the needs of an amputee.
However, Jobe extends that care to the patient’s mother, who has problems with her vision. She also takes the care outside of the home to the backyard, where she cuts the grass and does other tasks which she is not required to do.
“I bathe the mother and comb her hair although it’s the daughter who is my responsibility,” she says. “These are people who can’t do it for themselves and they don’t have anyone to do it. Some people need help.”
It is not in her nature to turn a blind eye to someone in need.
“If I see someone needs help, I just can’t sit by and say that is not my job,” she admits. “I can’t live that way. I am not looking for money. I just expect what I work for, what I am supposed to get.”
In recent times she has even spent the night at her patient’s home to offer whatever care the situation demanded.
“Some nights I stay over by the family and do as much as I can to help,” she says. “I love people. I would just like people to love me back the same way. I find sometimes I don’t get the treatment from people that I think I deserve. But that doesn’t stop me from doing good.”