A kind-hearted bus driver in the Philippines saved a stray kitten he spotted during one of his routes, now she joins him on every journey.
Joel Basallote is a mini bus driver who has been working the Mandaue-Ayala route in the Cebu region of the Philippines for many years.
Basallote thought he knew everything about his daily route and what it had to offer until the day the route brought a kitten-in-need into his life.
A tragic scene
Basallote told Cebu Daily News that he encountered the little kitten while grabbing breakfast at a roadside food stall in January 2022.
Heartbreakingly, Basallote spotted the kitten on the roadside, huddled beside the body of a deceased cat whom he assumed was its mother.
Knowing that he couldn’t leave the poor orphaned kitten to fend for herself on the busy highway, Basallote decided that he would remove her from the tragic scene and try to give her a better life, he explained:
“I felt pity for her that I was unable to immediately take my meal. I then took her and bought her milk. I thought that maybe if I would take care of her, and if she will be well and survive that will be great.”
A new passenger on board
After buying some milk for the kitten, Basallote tucked her safely into a cardboard box and kept her with him on his bus as he completed his daily route.
Once the day was done, he took her home with him and named the orphaned kitten Ayala, in honor of the route during which she was found.
Having no other pets at home, Basallote had lots of space and devotion to offer little Ayala and he shared that she quickly took to her new home and settled right in.
A born explorer
However, Joel Basallote soon discovered that even though Ayala loved her new home she did not enjoy him leaving her every day to drive his bus route, he explained:
“If she notices that I am already headed for work, she would start to cry so I decided to bring her along with me.”
Not wanting the little orphan to spend her days alone, Basallote began bringing Ayala to work with him, much to the joy and surprise of his unsuspecting passengers.
He shared with Cebu Daily News how the kitten reacts to the passengers who board his bus:
“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 the bus cat
The little kitten who is still only a few months old has become a local star in the Cebu region and is referred to as ‘Ayala the bus cat’ by those who have shared their daily commute with her.
Joel Basallote has assured those that might be concerned about Ayala’s comfort and safety on the bus, that she has access to a litter tray and a quiet and secure place to sleep.
Ayala now spends her days sharing the joy that her rescuer gave her by brightening up the journey of every commuter that she meets.