Living with 14 animals — this couple tells us how they do it!
Birds are often seen as animals that do not return affection the way cats and dogs do, but these winged creatures – be they budgies or cockatoos – are curious and intellectual, and owners can bond with them through hand-feeding, hand-training and playing music they can sing along to.
But imagine living with 14 animals (10 of whom are birds), and still maintaining a squeaky clean home! It is truly a testament to designers Benjamin & Dilys Soh’s patience and devotion to animals. Ben shares with us how they do it.
Photo credits: Benjamin Soh
Name some of the animals you have at home.
Our growing family includes four pairs of lovebirds, two red whiskered bulbul birds, one Siamese kitten, and a chinchilla! Our silky terrier lives with my parents and, unfortunately, our senior dwarf rabbit passed away some time ago. I’ve always liked animals and started by raising chicks and fighting fishes at a young age – you can say I’m quite the kampong boy!
How do you integrate pet cages and play areas in your home stylishly?
My wife and I are minimalists, and having no clutter helps to avoid accidents. The cages we chose have evolved over the years, from plain and functional to stylish ones that match our interior design. The Vision bird cage and an igloo-like cat pee pen are some examples.
What concerns come with having so many animals in the house?
Cleanliness, especially because Dilys has asthma. We change the bird cage lining every two days, and clean the other cages daily to prevent buildup of fur in the house. Dyson fans and air purifiers keep the air clean and fresh, too. We also counter the noise by covering each bird cage with a cloth between 10pm and 7.30am.
What special care do you take for your birds?
We adopted Maccha from an owner who had trouble domesticating her, and took on the challenge of improving her behaviour and easing her boredom by finding her a mate. A foreign and neutral environment, such as a date at Serangoon North where fellow parrot enthusiasts would meet, helped her bond with our fellow parrot, Kiko.
Additionally, we bought a lownoise vacuum so as not to scare the birds, and grow plants like basil and lemongrass to ward off flies. We also don’t take chances – we don’t leave Mew, our kitten, and the birds unsupervised; Mew follows Dilys to work and we don’t buy feathery toys.