5 Lessons from The Mother of Chinchillas

A little while back, I had an illustration done of my little family by the amazing artist Christine Bernard. I had stalked her page and loved how her drawings expressed the essence of the people in them and was ecstatic to have her draw us. It was slap bang in the middle of exams and I had trouble keeping up with our correspondence but like I said Christine is amazing and she whipped my illustration up in a matter of hours! If you want to check her out – and you should, you can find her on Instagram here christinebernardauthor.

With that, I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you more about my family and what I have learnt being The Mother of Chinchillas.


Can somebody get me one of these?


1. Patience
Something le boyfriend will tell you I don’t have. I need instant gratification and I need it yesterday! But when the Chinchillas came along with their little pitter pattering feet I had no choice but to learn patience. As cute and cuddly as they may look, they are not cute and cuddly at all. Maybe ‘at all’ is a little bit of a stretch but to be honest they were a stark adjustment to dogs who will love and give you attention no matter what.

Chins, depending on what age you get them and their individual personalities show little affection and don’t really like being picked up and smothered in love. Our relationship is 80/20 with them showing affection very rarely. I had to learn a lot of patience with them and understand that the few fleeting moments they do show love are exceptionally special. Like the time I put Socrates on the plane to take him with me to Port Elizabeth because I was attending a wedding. I have no clue what transpired between the PE airport to OR Tambo but when I collected him at the BidAir Pet Lounge and took him out of his carrier he gave me the longest cuddle ever even if it did last all of 5 minutes!




2. Selflessness
I am not a human mom yet and I do not think I will be for a very long time but what my furbabies have taught me is to be selfless. I put them first at every point in my life. The Chinchillas each have their own cages which they spend most of the day in but need to come out regularly to play, dust bath and get some exercise. We usually do this at night as they are nocturnal animals and snooze during the day but some nights I could just not be bothered and would much rather sit on the couch and be a potato. But I signed up for this job and play time needs to be done so I make the effort even if I do not feel like it and put them first. Our road trip from hell which I might go into detail about in the future taught me this as well.

We were travelling from JHB to PE for Christmas a few years ago when we had the worst case of a series of unfortunate events and was stuck in a problematic car in the middle of the South African summer with 3 animals that could quite possibly die of heatstroke. It was one of the most stressful times in my life as we had to make it to our destination with a broken car, while le boyfriend did everything he could to get us on the road again I shifted into mother mode and made sure my boys were okay. I recall buying around 10 bags of ice from a garage in Middleburg, smashing them on the side of the road like a crazy person and separating bits of ice into smaller plastic bags and putting one into each Chins cage so they would not overheat.


3. Awareness
We got our Chins at a local pet shop. I had been looking for an animal to keep me company and was going to get a hamster but a week before we brought Socs home an aunt mentioned I should get a Chinchilla. At the time I knew very little about Chins and had never even seen one IRL. So when we walked into the pet shop a week later and we saw Chinchillas we knew this had to be fate. Around 9 months later we got Thor and Loki and that is how our family became complete. What I didn’t know was that pet shops are not the greatest place to get animals, all you need is the cash and they will hand over an animal just like that. As a kid, the best place to be at the mall was the pet shop I always loved animals but having Chinchillas opened my eyes to the truth about the pet trade.

I have read a lot of articles about the hash conditions animals face when they are put into breeding in order to keep up the demand for potential buyers at the pet shop and even though I got my boys at a pet shop I wouldn’t encourage the purchasing of animals from a store. I wish I knew then, what I know now, and even though my pet shop seemed legit I can’t imagine what horrors may be going on behind the scenes.

Now a big believer in adoption and if you want any kind of pet, this would be the best way to go. You not only give an animal a loving home but you can usually trust they have come from better conditions and rescue centres always do home checks! Another thing I didn’t like about the pet shop was the misinformation about animals. I was advised by worker at the pet shop, I could put a harness on Socs and take him out for walks, this was inaccurate and could have potentially ended badly because Chins mostly have cartilage and if I had put him on a harness and he started running (which he would have) he could have been badly hurt!


4. Teamwork
Our lives are a bit all over the place. With my studies and Gs work we don’t really have a set schedule. But the boys have taught us to be a bit more grounded. We take them out to play at least every second day and clean their cage together weekly. It is a team effort to look after our boys and we seem to be doing well. G feeds them each morning and night (he is brilliant) and I make sure they don’t get too many treats.

The Chins care ranges from medium to hard and we always have to be aware of health scares with them. We once purchased a different type of food for the boys when we couldn’t find our regular Chinchilla mix, Socs ate a little bit too much and I ended up having to rush him to the vet – if a Chinchilla gets bloated it can be fatal! I got hold of G and he rushed home from work and we took him to the vet. He ended up being okay and it was just a little tummyache from eating too much. He gave us a scare but the two of us worked together in order to keep him safe.


5. Happiness
The Chins may not be the type of pets I wanted in the affection department but they are definitely the ones I needed. They have taught me so much and I don’t believe that this is all for nothing there must be a greater purpose in life that the Chins are preparing me for or maybe this is all I will ever be, Mother of Chins and I do think that will be enough for me. My boys have filled my heart with happiness and made my house a home. They are cute, mischievous and also quite intelligent and they are the centre of my home.



Thanks for reading

XX Cass

Hi everyone, I hope you enjoyed this post about the Chinchillas. If you have any more questions or would like me to do more posts about my escapades with them let me know in the comments below. Do you have any pets, what have you learnt from them?

I think I need another illustration depicting me as the Mother of Chins any artists out there think that they can help me out?

How I became a student. Again.


Studying for THL Exam

At 27 it is kind of weird to be a student, especially when one of your closest friends that you met through studying just turned 21. I have always been studious and way back when, when I was in high-school I had dreams of becoming a lawyer (clearly this dream has not come true.) I got into University and as my friends say, I knew everything but forgot it all, the minute I wrote a test. My brain is the most outstanding organ. It works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from the day I was born… until I have to take a test or remember a name at a party – in one ear and out the other usually. I quit after 6 months. Family life, stress, anxiety and possibly depression as well the thought of wasting my parent’s money all lead me to dropping out.


Me, My 21 year old friend Cake (on her birthday) & Tazz a new friend through UNISA



The years in between my studying is a blur of life pushing me in all sorts of directions with weird bosses and experiences that I might share later on but for now, I am going just stick to my journey with studying. In 2011 just under 2 years after my first rodeo with University, I went back, with a bursary to back me up.  I thought I had made it but it was one of the toughest years I have ever had. The bursary fell through, I was only notified at the end of the year. Literally 9 months after it became obsolete. I was devastated and this is where I gave up and for the next 5 years I lived in a fog of depression. I had convinced myself that my desire to study and get a degree was not something that was going happen for me, I was getting too old and unfortunately, not everyone’s dreams come true and I was one of those unlucky ones.

It was in 2016 when the idea resurfaced. I was living in Johannesburg with my boyfriend while my best friend back in Port Elizabeth was talking about studying through Unisa. She wanted to pursue a career and the best way for her to do that was to get credentials but she also started planting the seed with me. I was, at the time, doing nothing really substantial with my life. I had not worked in two years because of the decision we made about my eye disease. I have Keratoconus and when we moved to JHB we decided that I would not go out to work. We found the best doctors and surgeons to diagnose and treat my incurable disease. I went for an operation, got fitted with hard contacts lens and truly saw for the very first time (before everything was a blur.) And it was around about the time where I needed to get back on track.

As the seed that my friend planted grew I started entertaining the idea. I still thought I was too old to study and fulfil a dream at this stage in my life and what about the cost? I had a lot of doubt about going back to studying but the desire outweighed the doubt and I looked into this crazy notion even more. I had the talk with G (le boyfriend) and asked what he thought, he thought it was a brilliant idea and was all for it and without skipping a beat offered to pay for the whole thing. I also spoke to friends and family and made sure that this was the right thing for me. Before I filled out the application we came to the decision (so many decisions) that this would benefit us in the long run, I’d be working towards a career I wanted to be in and when the time came the possibility of getting a better salary with a degree in my pocket sounded logical. So, I filled it out, sent it in and 5 months later I was a first-year Communication Science student.

Something I never thought would happen ever again. I am now currently full-fledged, full-time student with all the problems that come with it. I hate it most days and ask myself WHY? But to be honest this is where I want to be. I love learning, I love the idea that at this end of this I will achieve something I wanted for as long as I could remember. You may be wondering how I jumped from Law to Communications? Well, law will always have my heart but I believe am a writer. I have no clue at all what I want to do with this skill but I know it would be awesome to get paid for it or at least be in some part of the Media doing something creative and Communication Science will help me get there. I still do not know what exactly it is I want to do, and people keep telling me that, that is okay because not everyone does so I am just chilling, (at the time I wrote this) in second year hoping that I figure this out by the time I graduate. And even if  I don’t what I have learnt is, it never the end of the world and you are never too old to do what you love.

Thanks for reading

XX Cass

Hi readers, have you ever thought you were too old for something like I did? Leave me a comment and let me know, also if you have any questions about studying go ahead and ask, I know a thing or two and might be able to help or satisfy a burning question you have about me.