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There are many businesses and jobs that allow animals in the workplace. Many offices will have an office dog or cat, maybe even a fish. But did you ever expect a bus driver to have a work buddy? A man working his usual bus route found a poor starving kitten on the side of the road, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.

Basallote and bus

Where was the kitten found?

This story takes place in the city of Mandaue, in Cebu. Where is this you ask? Mandaue City, in the region of Cebu, is in the Philippines. Mandaue City is a city full of culture, different ethnic foods, and lots of things to do in local parks and museums. How do people get around? In a variety of ways actually: mini-buses, bikes, utility vehicles, mini cabs, and trisikads. 

map of cebu

Image by Mike Gonzalez via Wikipedia

Joel Basallote is a mini-bus driver in Mandaue. At least seven times a day, Joel will travel the same Mandaue-Ayala route. In January 2022 however, that route was about to get a little disrupted. As he was eating breakfast at a roadside food stand near the Cebu Business Park, he saw a kitten. Sadly, the kitten was lying with its deceased mother on the side of the road. Basallote felt upset for the kitten and knew he had to do something.

Ayala

“Ayala loves to play while Basallote works.” Doris C. Bongcac. Image via Cebu Daily News

“I felt pity for her that I was unable to immediately take my meal. I then took her and bought her milk,” he said. “I thought that maybe if I would take care of her, and if she will be well and survive that will be great.”

milk bottle

“Mini bus driver Joel Basallote makes sure to bring a bottle of milk for his pet cat when they leave for work.”Doris C. Bongcac, Cebu Daily News

After buying the little kitten some milk, he named her Ayala after the area where she was found.

Note: As Cole and Marmalade fans know, cow milk is not a good idea for cats and can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea. 

Don’t worry, Ayala soon began eating cat food. She especially loves sharing Basallote’s fish meals now that she’s older!

“She joins me when I eat.  Even if she is asleep, she would wake up in time for our meal.  She has started to develop this habit,” he said.

Can I come too, dad?

Ayala certainly isn’t one to be left home alone. The little kitten would cry every time Basallote would have to head to work. To help her out, he just decided to take her along with him. With him, he could supervise how well she was growing.

“If she notices that I am already headed for work, she would start to cry so I decided to bring her along with me.”

Keeping Ayala Safe

But how does she stay safe? Go to the bathroom? Well, Basallote keeps a helmet that’s attached to the bus near the windshield where Ayala loves to hang out and sleep if she’s not on his lap or playing with passengers. For potty trips, Ayala will either meow to get her dad’s attention or hop down herself into a little plastic container full of sand to do her business.

Ayala pail

Kitten Bus Buddy

Ayala has become quite popular, many of Basallote’s frequent passengers will ask about her if they don’t immediately see her around on the bus. How adorable!

“If there are passengers who will be startled by her, she will tease them more.  She would start to play with their shoelaces. But if my passengers do not seem to mind her presence, she will just continue to play on her own.” 

ayala playing on bus

Ayala isn’t the only kitty Basallote has though. She is actually the tenth cat he has rescued and all of them have been rescued from the streets of Metro Cebu. Ayala, however, is the youngest of them. Basallote has said he loves rescuing cats because if no one will help them, then who will? We have to do everything we can as humans to help them survive right?

Video below via Cebu Daily News:

Wonderful Update on Ayala and Joel

In a Twitter post, the Cebu Daily News shared some adorable pictures of Ayala all grown up. Best of all, she’s still with Joel Basallote and being well-cared for.

“Remember, Ayala? She finally got spayed on Sunday, April 24. Her owner, Joel Basallote, is confident that he will now get to keep and take better care of his pet. Bassalote found Ayala more than four months ago, near a food stall located across the Ayala Terminal at the Cebu Business Park,” they shared.

Ayala with Joel Basallote

Credit: Twitter/CDN Digital

“And as she grew bigger, he felt the need to have her spayed. He said that some of his adult pet cats have left their home in Mandaue City to find a mate. | photos courtesy of Zee Zahra via Doris Bongcac.”

Ayala the cat who rides a bus in the Philippines

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