Major: Animal Science Hons | Age: 25
Joshua studied Animal Science under Senior Lecturer, Dr. med. vet. Yvonne Hemberger (PhD, Veterinary Public Health). Dr Hemberger is the Head of Department of Para-clinical Studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Neudamm Campus.
Joshua is a compassionate animal lover, and when he came home to his late fathers informal home in Otjomuise, he was saddened to see that his late fathers beloved cats had not been doing very well, since their caretakers passing. Two of the adolescent cats had serious injuries (a broken leg, and wound to the throat), and the female cat had had several litters. Instead of two cats, there were now seven.
A female cat can fall pregnant as from the age of 4 months, and she can have 3, sometimes 4 litters per year. Which is why sterilization is of the utmost importance. There are no homes, and little care for the new kittens being born.
Joshua reached out to Dr Hemberger for help immediately. However, since she was abroad at the time, she contacted HaH, and asked whether we would be able to assist Joshua.
This is when and how I (Anne) met Joshua.
Early on Wed 28 June 2023, I drove out to Otjomuise, in the freezing cold. It was during our first official cold front, and it was -2 that morning.
Getting hold of the 2 injured cats was our first priority, and we set out to try and catch them. It was not the easiest of tasks, because all 7 cats had unfortunately been mistreated, and thus did not trust people much.
The young male cat (4 to 6 months old) with the broken hind leg and wound to the throat was caught first. His brother, was a little more difficult to catch, and Joshua and I both ended up with injuries. Joshua, however, was determined to help the terrified cat (who had a wound on the inside of his broken hind leg), as he understood that the cat was aggressive only because it was so scared, but needed urgent medical attention.
Finally, the second cat was caught, and both were taken to the vet.
I had planned to go back for the other five cats in the following week, but on 10 July, Joshua sent me a heartbreaking video of the father cat. He too had ended up with a wound on his throat. The next morning, 11 July, I drove back out to Otjomuise but without a trap, we were unable to catch the father, who was absolutely terrified of people.
We were at least able to catch the smallest kitten.
The next day, Joshua and I were determined and prepared to succeed. I brought two cats traps, some tasty tuna, to lure the cats into the traps, and 2 extra carriers.
Not even 10 minutes after setting the traps, two cats had been caught! We were elated, we got the badly injured father cat, and one of the older kittens. After they were safely, and carefully transferred into cat carriers, (not an easy task) I took them to the vet. One cat remained… the mother. But she wasn’t always around, so I left a cat trap with Joshua, who by this time had ‘graduated’ with a masters in cat catching and trapping (HaH Namibia’s star community volunteer!)
A few hours later, my phone rang. It was an overly excited Joshua. The mother cat got into the trap, and was ready for pickup.
She too was taken to the vet. Windhoek Animal Hospital, gave the entire family a second chance by sterilizing them, vaccinating them against rabies, and deworming them. They are all set for happier, healthier, and brighter lives, with no prospect of expanding their family.
Joshua was the key in this rescue operation, and he saved 7 lives! He could very easily have turned a blind eye to their suffering, but he understood that had he left them to suffer, his community would have suffered as well. It has been proven that young children who witness animals suffering, can grow up to be troubled individuals.
After all, is it not the right of each and every child, no matter where they come from, to never have to witness cruelty, suffering, and violence?
Children in that area saw the help Joshua offered the cats, and they now know that kindness towards animals is the way forward.
Had it not been for his care, determination, and love for all animals, 7 cats would have had to endure physical suffering, while multiplying, and adding to the problem.
Joshua has since agreed to act as a cat drop off point, so that residents in his community can bring their beloved cats to him once a week, where they will be picked up, taken to the vet for sterilization, and taken back to their own homes.