In loving memory of Cow Mau (an album spanning 18 years)

It has taken me about a day to sieve through the many thousands of photos and memories of Cow Mau since the day he was rescued from the roadside. And while I was doing it, I paused so many times to recall the particular incident that came with each set of photos.

They are all such wonderful memories! I definitely smiled more than I cried.

Let’s start from the day they were rescued….

The rescue of Cow Mau, Bunny and Pole

They were my first-ever rescues. I noticed them on the wet grass by the side of the road in the after-rain morning of 7th May 2006. They were all huddled up together and I said to myself that I would walk one more round and if the mother-cat had not come to take them, I would have to take them home. When I came back, Cow Mau had wandered off from Bunny and Pole and it really looked like he was trying to get help. They were just born (because they later only opened their eyes after 14 days). Despite having zero experience in nursing neonates, having not touched a cat in my entire life, and having two dogs at home, I took them back home and from then, learnt the ropes of looking after newborns….

Bobby was very curious and yet, very caring towards them. He helped me raise them.

Even as a tiny little kitten, it was always Cow Mau who would detach from the group, walk all the way out to the living room to “tell” us that they were hungry.

Cow Mau helped to look after Tiger 

About three months later, word got out that I could nurse newborns and someone brought a little kitten to me. That would be Tiger, our fourth kitten. Cow Mau took it upon himself to teach Tiger “how to be a cat”.

“That’s what you have to do, Tiger, you scratch, scratch, scratch…”

“And you eat, eat, eat….”

Growing up in the early years

In our old house, there was no way we could confine them inside the house, so they were CNRM cats, they had the freedom to roam and play in the outdoors.

But Cow Mau would always come home and keep me company. That’s him sitting on my chair waiting for me. If you look closer, you will see a round patch of wound in his rear end. This would be Cow Mau’s first outdoor fight where he came back with an open wound the size of a round 50 sen coin. It took three surgeries to finally close up the wound. The reason? The first two times it was done, he got out of the e-collar and bit off all the stitches.

Cow Mau was a fighter and a warrior. Together with Bunny, they ruled our entire street, one brother at each alley. No other cat dared to come into our street. They were true-blue CNRM cats.

The two brothers watched television too!

This classic photo actually won a prize in some contest but it wasn’t submitted by us. Someone lifted off the photo from the blog and submitted it without telling us. Oh well…


He got into numerous fights; too many to list down! In one of the fights, he came back with “purple jelly” on his neck (or was it his paw, I forget now). We were always rushing him to the vet’s for treatment. There was one where he got his each notched too, and it was a “V”! And there was another one where we had to soak his paw in warm salt water every day and it took Ming-Yi, Jia-Wen and I to hold him down.

There were so, so many fights. I think he won them all. “You should have seen the other guy”, he would say. Not only did he fight with outside cats, he also fought with his own brother, Bunny. It must be from these fights that Cow and Bunny both ended up being FIV-positive.

But I remember once when I tried to break up a ferocious fight between Cow and Bunny by stupidly using my leg, I got bitten really badly by Cow. I remember seeing blood spurting out of the bite wound, like a fountain!!

Looking after Uncle Bobby

Towards the final years of Bobby’s life, Bobby became blind and clumsy. It was Cow Mau, Bunny and Tiger who rose to the occasion to take care of Bobby. It was clearly an act of gratitude to Uncle Bobby.

Cow Mau’s duty was to take Bobby to his food bowl every day. Then, Cow Mau had to start eating first, only then would Bobby eat.

One day, Cow was fell sick. So sick that he had to just rest all day, but yet…

He still did his duty and took Bobby to his food bowl. What a wonderful cat he was…

As good and kind-hearted as he was, Cow Mau had petting aggression. You could not pet him for more than three seconds at a time; he would bite! It was just one of those things and we lived with that and respected that. It was only in his later years that the petting aggression subsided completely and he became a super manja cat!

The manja cat that he was

When I wrote my very first book, Cow Mau graced the front cover!

Becoming a totally indoor cat

When we moved to our present house in Jan 2012, we brought along all seven of our cats (Cow Mau, Bunny, Pole, Cleo, Tiger, Indy and Tabs). We had to build a catio using the back room, the back pantry and the entire back garden to confine the cats. So all our cats learnt to become indoor cats. They had an air-conditioned room, a pantry and garden where there is earth, plants, grass and sunshine.

Cow Mau was always a big cat. In his hey day, he weighed more than 6kg!

Cow continued getting into fights with Indy and Bunny in our new house and we would have to take them to the vet’s very often. Then, we had to feed them medicine. That was a huge challenge. I had to get creative and think of various ways to pill Cow. One was to put him into a carrier and then open his mouth and plonk the pill in. Another was to put him into the carrier, then into the car and then only plonk the pill in!

Yes, I had to get really creative!

The Royal Guards

Cow Mau and Indy (both black-and-white) formed what is known as “They Royal Guards” in our house. They guarded their catio (called “Bunny’s Place”) with diligence.

But sometimes, the Royal Guards fought with each other too! There were so many Cow-Indy fights. So, so many, and each one ended with me taking both to the vet’s!

When Cow Mau almost lost his eye

It was in one of the many Cow-Indy fights where Indy did a bullseye scratch of Cow’s eye. Cow Mau’s eye was badly injured and I was very sick at that time. Ming-Yi had to take Cow Mau to a vet to get his eye treated and the vet (a very senior one too) said he had to have the third eye-lid operation. So that was done and Cow Mau had to be on the e-collar for a full 21 days. That was one experience I would never forget! Having a very high pain threshold, Cow Mau bravely endured the 21 days.

Finally, the vet said the operation was a success and we rejoiced, but little did we know that it was not. The eye injury came back and this time, I had to take Cow back to our regular vet (also a senior one) for a second opinion. It was discovered that the first vet had overlooked a loose flap inside his eye. That is why it couldn’t heal. This time this vet did a debridement of the eye and he said it would heal and….thankfully, it did!

So many fights!!

Cow Mau had so many vet visits because of so many fights!!

He often fought with Bunny too. We raised warriors!!

Cow Mau was a big, big cat!!

That’s Cow Mau fending off Mr Zurik. He fought with the younger Mr Zurik too.

Looking after Bunny

As much as they fought as siblings, when Bunny fell ill, Cow Mau always stayed by his brother’s side. We believe that Cow Mau had a outburst issue (anger management?) which was tied to his petting aggression too. But deep down, he was a very, very kind-hearted and empathetic cat.

“You’re not heavy, you’re my brother…”

The famous Chinese New Year photo. Doesn’t the pattern resemble three fishes swimming in a Chinese painting?

My most empathetic friend

Cow Mau was my most empathetic friend. Whenever I was sad, he would know instantly and he would comfort me. His empath powers were amazingly accurate. He would just know.

When no human knew, he knew.

Cow Mau with young children

With old age, Cow Mau truly mell0wed down. All the petting aggression was completely gone. He let Jayden pet and play with him. I didn’t have to worry at all.

Cow’s stoicism in his final weeks

Cow Mau was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (also generally known as congestive heart failure) in September 2023. His days were numbered. Initially he showed no signs of slowing down at all, but slowly, the symptoms surfaced.

He continued being the very caring cat that he was. He mingled and socialised with all of us. And he still ate very well. Cow Mau had a fantastic appetite.

When the mouth pain (inflammation due to being FIV+) became bad, he could only eat a few bites each time, but he made up for it by asking for many meals a day. I’m so glad I was always home to cater to all his requests!

Cow Mau went through acupuncture for pain management too.

And laser therapy, also for pain management. I gave him RetroMAD1 the moment I found out that it does help very much with gingivostomatitis, but the prognosis is better if it is only caused by the calicivirus without the complication of FIV.

At the end of the day, home care mattered the most.

Cow Mau was very weak on the the morning of 18th March. So weak that we thought that was the end. But very surprisingly, he bounced back up and gave us another five days to spend caring for him.

This was the final morning, his last day with us.

Cow Mau passed away peacefully at home, in the company of all of us, on 23rd March 2024, after we returned home from his 3rd laser therapy.

18 years is a very long time, especially when they are filled with so many exciting and happy memories.

I have lost my oldest cat, my first-ever rescue and my most empathetic and loyal friend. I accept that everyone will die one day and that there is no escape from this. I am somewhat comforted that Cow Mau did not have any prolonged suffering from his failing heart. He was stoic and very strong up until the end. He maintained his dignity and we gave him the respect that he deserved. I am also comforted and grateful that I could spend all day looking after him in his final weeks when he needed care. In this final days, all he wanted was to stay by me and just look at me.

The many memories we have of the time spent together will always be preciously preserved and rejoiced upon in my heart.

You live on in us, dearest Cow Mau!

Thank you so, so much for being a wonderful part of our lives.







6 responses to “In loving memory of Cow Mau (an album spanning 18 years)”

  1. KLW

    Condolences to you for the loss of your much beloved Cow Mau. I’ve been following Myanimalcare for a long, long time now. Stories of your rescues, your Bobby and the cats were such a joy to read growing up. Fast forward ~16 years on, I am now in my mid 30s – a cat mom of 3, and my husband and I have fostered 5 cats for a local cat rescue in the US. If we are lucky, we can leave an impact like you have, and our cats will have long and happy lives like Cow Mau, Bunny, Pole, Indy! You gave them an amazing life and I hope the days bring you happy memories to look back on amidst the pain.

    1. chankahyein

      Thank you so very much for your kind words, KL. It means the world to me. Thank you for sharing Cow Mau’s journey with us.

  2. Mei Li Powell

    What wonderful memories of a long life well lived, much loved by the whole family. I am so so sorry for you loss, Kah Yein. Cow Mau lives on from across the rainbow bridge.

    1. chankahyein

      Thank you very much, dear cousin!

  3. Mervin Ravindran P. Loovigaratnam

    My deepest sympathies and condolences 🙏 ☹️ 😔 😢 😥 😿. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.

    1. chankahyein

      Thank you very much for your kindness, Dr Mervin. It means the world to me.

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