A pet is more than just a friend – and having one is like having an additional family member at home. Pets have their own set of needs and wants, so their owners will need to take those into consideration before making a lifetime vow to care for them like their own children.

Based on a research done by the National Institute of Health in the US, it was found that pets will not only steal our hearts but they also have the ability to contribute to our overall cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, cortisol and blood pressure levels. But what amazes us the most is that while many people might assume that only cats and dogs are able to comfort and love us, there are many other animals out there that can give you that same affection.

Baby, 10

Baby & Tong Bing Yu

“People assume that I’m a toy dog but let me tell you: we Maltese aren’t. Take a deeper look and you’d realise that we’re more like human beings. Personally, I’m very possessive and loyal to one person. I can be obedient if I want to but it also depends on where I am and who’s around me. I’m my mummy, Tong Bing Yu’s ‘bodyguard’ so wherever she goes, I’m with her (we’ve been to a lot of places together and I was able to be very quiet!).

I found mummy when I was three years old. I don’t like listening to harsh commands but if you talk to me nicely, I’ll listen to you (but uh, that also depends if I like you). I still remember the first time mummy had to travel for work. I was dying for her to come home and when she finally got back, I couldn’t stop showering her with sloppy kisses! I was so scared that she’d forgotten about me during her time away.

"We Maltese aren't toy dogs." – Baby

Mummy talks to me like I’m her son and I really appreciate that. In return, I’m super disciplined whenever she tells me to do something. I wish I can keep her to myself but unfortunately, I have to share her with my daddy, Kee Kai Loon. I know I play a huge role in mummy’s life and before the MCO started, she used to travel a lot to Singapore for shoots. I’m really thankful that she took the effort to come home to see me once every fortnight back then. Also, I’m not praising myself, but I’ve heard mummy say that I’ve transformed her into a patient person and filled her heart with love. Awww! I’m very glad that mummy admits it and I’m extremely grateful for her never-ending sacrifices for me.” – Baby

Ezra Shimiya Targaryen, 4

Ezra Shimiya Targaryen

“For starters, I’m a very shy and tame African pygmy hedgehog and I’d pick dark places over bright spots anytime. The moment you switch on the light, I tend to freeze and dash to the nearest dark zone that I can find. My utmost favourite treat is a bowl of insects and I LOVE belly rubs! I don’t mind it when people touch my cheeks and ears, but nothing beats the feeling of getting a good belly rub. Ahhh!

Thanks to my age, I’m actually quite chill and I tend to sleep a lot nowadays. Usually, I’ll start to get active after my mum, Mardhiah returns from work at around 8pm. She is well aware of my age and I really appreciate how she places me inside my bonding pouch and on her bed when she’s at home. I eat at odd hours, so my mealtime is between 8pm and 1am.

I wish people knew that I’m shy and I have very poor eyesight. If you’re a new hedgehog owner, I think that it’s only wise for you to get one version of me instead of two. Reason being that housing two hedgehogs together will make us fight and this can go on until one of us passes away. Our wheels should have a minimum diameter of 28cm and a non-dusty bed made from recycled (brown) paper pellets. We love Kibbles, and when petting us for the first time, please consider how we would feel because just like you, we’re not in favour of having strangers touch us as they like. Also, since we’re considered exotic, it’s best for you to survey if the vets around your place have the basic necessities to care for us when we’re unwell. Take it from my mum: our medical bills can be extremely high compared to cats and dogs.” – Ezra

Hannah, 4 years 3 months & Jarvis, 3 years 6 months

Jarvis & Hannah

“My name is Hannah and I’m very gentle, independent and playful. My mum, Charmaine got me as she has always wanted a husky as her companion and I’m proud to say that she’s a responsible owner as she only decided to get me after doing all her research and was financially and mentally ready to have me be part of her family. As for my brother, Jarvis, he was a blessing in disguise for mum and me. He came into our home after his previous owner (mum’s sister-in-law) encountered some family problems.

Mum’s life isn’t easy with both of us around as she needs to vacuum and use the lint roller daily to get all our fur off everything we come near (sorry, mumsy!). But I’m so proud to say that mum always puts our interests first and takes us for our evening and weekend walks without fail. We’re aware of the big hole in her pocket that we’re causing as she needs to pay for our food, our groomers and other additional expenses. The one thing that gets us really excited is when we get our treats (hello, bones!) and when we get to run around the park freely and peek into other people’s homes. In a nutshell, our daily routine is to eat, play, howl and nap – and repeat them all over again!

"We love it whenever we get our treats!" – Hannah

So far, life has been rosy for me. However, the most traumatic experience that I’ve been through was when I had a miscarriage right before I was due and lost all four of my pups. It was such a dark period for me. I went through a scary surgery and that feeling of loss will forever be in my heart.

"I'm very protective of Hannah and at times, I get FOMO too." – Jarvis

We know that we are beautiful but please don’t adopt huskies just because of our looks. Be prepared to hear us talk all day long and shower us with a lot of attention too. I know many people have said that we can withstand cold weather, but we are flexible and can adapt easily so you don’t have to worry about placing us only in air-conditioned rooms our entire lives. We have a LOT of reserved energy in us so be prepared for the extreme workout that you’re going to get! But don’t worry about us destroying your household items when we’re exhausted because just like you, all we want to do then is sleep like babies.” – Hannah

Joaquin Lobo, 3

Joaquin Lobo

“People tend to jump to the conclusion that I’m an albino but in reality, I’m not. I’m proud to say that I’m the only one of my type in Malaysia – a blazing blizzard morph, which is a type of leopard gecko. My siblings out there all have spots on their body but I’m a unique breed and the result of a few mixed morphs. The other thing that differentiates me from albinos is the colour of my eyes. Albinos usually have red eyes but I’m like a regular leopard gecko who has green eyes. Daddy, Adam Lobo, was first attracted to me when he saw that I have eyelids. And the other thing that made him adopt me was when he realised that I have a constant smiley face – win! On top of that, daddy loves the colour white so when he saw me, it was almost as if he’s found the LOHL.

Here’s a fun fact: I’m a reptile. I know daddy loves me a lot but by nature, my breed doesn’t let me show him much affection. I’m thankful that he knows about it and the most I can do after daddy comes home from a long day at work is to smile which I know calms him down tremendously. I don’t bite (unless someone stresses me out a lot and I’ll let go of my tail like a lizard!), I only eat super worms and crickets, and I don’t have webbed feet. That's why daddy is so confident of leaving me in a tank and has the assurance that I won’t disappear. I have clawed feet which help me stay put. I don’t really need much attention and as long as daddy says hello to me once in a while and feeds me food, I’m pretty content with my life. I love my me-time and am thankful that I managed to find an owner like daddy who's always on the go and isn’t too clingy!” – Joaquin

Leyla Rami, 7

Leyla Rami

“One of the things I hate the most is when people judge me for my looks. It hurts as hell whenever someone sees me for the first time and goes, ‘OMG, such an ugly animal!’ but what’s worse is how upset and angry papa, Zuhairie Sahrom gets whenever anyone says that to my face. I agree with papa that these are the worst type of people because in reality, I’m a very affectionate Sphynx – and yes, I’m a cat. I love to cuddle all the time and for extra comfort, I love to sleep under papa’s armpit.

I’m very social but on the few occasions when I met my same breed, I was quite taken aback for some reason. People think that they can put anything on my skin just to make me look pretty but I seriously dislike it! If it’s for a while say, for a photoshoot (which I’ve done many of), I’m okay with it. But think about it, if you had to wear a collar around your neck 24/7, wouldn’t you be annoyed too? Since I was born without fur, my body oils tend to transfer to fabrics easily and as a result, papa has set up different areas around the house with fabrics so that I can go and sleep there anytime.

People assume that I’m fierce cos of my RBF but the truth is that I really love human beings. I need the constant flow of affection and won’t settle for anything less! I tend to be very energetic and as a result, papa has transformed his apartment to be Sphynx-friendly just for me. I’m truly grateful for everything that he has done for me, even if he has to spend part of his pay cheque to buy me shampoo, moisturisers and SPF (yes, I love sunbathing but it’s dangerous for my skin, hence why I need SPF) from Johnson & Johnson.

Whenever we go out, he takes the effort to bring along a cat bag filled with all these products so that I'll be comfortable. Nothing beats my papa’s love and if you’re considering adopting a Sphynx cat, be very sure that you’re willing to dedicate your time the way my papa does as we need to feel loved constantly. Fun fact: forget about holding me in the shower the way YouTubers do because let me tell you – that’s impossible and papa can vouch for it!” – Leyla

Xiao Ding Dang (Doraemon), Charlie, Dorami, Shizuka & Suneo

Xiao Ding Dang

“I’d like to think that I’m the king of the house as I assist daddy, Sheng Saw, to take care of all my siblings when he’s busy. I was born on 14th February 2017 and I know that everyone is attracted to my adorable looks. Believe it or not, I’m a dog but I love to play with birds and chickens too! My sister, Dorami was also born in 2017 and daddy adopted her from one of his friends. She’s the complete opposite of me as she’s a diva. She’s feisty on the outside but very loving towards all of us behind closed doors. She can be quite possessive too and we’re not allowed to go near daddy if she wants him all to herself!


On the other hand, I ‘rescued’ Shizuka from the streets when daddy and I went out for a walk one day. He gave her some food and she followed us to the door of our elevator so I nodded and daddy took her in immediately. She loves car rides and is daddy’s companion whenever he goes grocery shopping. Then comes my other sibling called Charlie. Daddy bumped into him at the carpark of a market and after watching his antics, daddy decided to adopt him too. Although he looks grumpy most of the time (thanks to his Charlie Chaplin-meets-Hitler looks), he’s got a lot of charisma and our home is filled with life when he’s around!

From left: Suneo, Xiao Ding Dang & Shizuka

Suneo is my other grey sibling that daddy rescued during the MCO in Penang and she needed a lot of attention, so daddy took the effort to hand-feed her food for months. Initially, daddy intended to put her up for adoption but his heart softened after a while so he decided to adopt her himself! We all live under one roof and believe me when I say that there’s no such thing as ‘cats and dogs can’t live together’ – because clearly, we can. Daddy has told me multiple times that his life has changed after taking all of us in. He’s become less stressed and depressed, and we’d like to think that it’s thanks to us – we’re like his antidepressants!

On some days, he goes through a lot at work and we can sense that the moment he’s home. So, what we do is sit around him and he calms down quickly. Daddy went through quite a hard time getting us to bond with one another, but after convincing us that no one gets left behind, we accepted everyone for who they are. Daddy had always wanted to adopt a kid but slowly, he learnt to accept that we are now his kids and he is our pawrent. You have no idea how proud we are whenever daddy says that at times, pets can give more love than human beings.

Dorami & Charlie

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that if you ever thought that pets are dirty, think again. If all cats and dogs are as lucky as us to have a daddy like ours, you’ll never come across dirty animals roaming the streets!” – Xiao Ding Dang

Photography: Tan Guo Xiang
Zariel Zahann
Outfits & accessories: All pets' own

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