Flopping down onto my bed last Saturday 3 am, I sort of expected to wake up under yet another day of pouring rain in June.
And tending to the remaining sick kitten, filling bottles with hot water to keep them warm, changing their blanket, feed the babies with syringe, quarrel with them about me pushing medicine into their throat without their consent (usually ended up with a few more claw stripes on my hand), mop the floor, clean the litter, changing light bulbs (to keep cages warm), disinfect the house, day in, day out.
My new routine, but it sinks to the bone faster than any day job I have ever been into these past 14 years.
Instead I wake up with the warm kiss of sunshine on my cheek.
With hangover syndrome still clinging over my head, I looked at the small clock right beside my bed. It’s 6:30 am.
I took a deep breath, and slowly force myself to sit on the bed. I wanted to make sure this isn’t a dream; and Goldie’s meowing on my window sill told me loud and clear that it isn’t.
Aside from that small clock beside my bed, Goldie has been the most punctual alarm in the whole world. She always sits on my window sill on 06:30 am, and 05:00 pm and sing “Oooo Sole Meooooow”, reminding me it’s meal time for everyone.
The best thing is? She is completely dry.
I wake up, made my bed, and open the bedroom door. Right there on my empty living room the kittens played chase with each other. Portos, Whitney, Freed, Whisper, Butterscotch, Sparky Terror, Tricia, Stevia…..
Some lounged at the windowsill looking outside, but whatever they do, they all rammed onto me as soon as they heard me on that door.
They don’t usually that cheerful if the rain is going to come later, so it dawned on me that summer had finally begin to arrive.
And so I started my day in a completely different mood. I feed them with extra width on my smile, and the cheerful air those kitties bring wiped my exhaustion away. The freshness of the morning wind brought me back to life as I opened all the windows, and the way the kittens lift their nose as the breeze rushes into the house evoke the gratefulness in my heart. How nice it is to be able to feel the grace of nature, especially after a long, tiring war that confine us to our house and beds.
It’s a brand new day, with a brand new hope, brand new dream.
After they all eat, unlike the other days, Estebel follows me outside to the cattery, and back again running and purring, calling all of her kitties, and my house is immediately empty as she lead a long line of kittens out to the backyard.
Reminds me of a folklore about a piper and the children.
Watching them enjoying the first sun of the summer is like a new breath is blown into my soul. As I continue my rigid medication scheme and diet, the sick cats seems to get better, and they don’t want to waste the sun to dry the rest of their runny nose. The trot with which they experience their first day out convince me that everything is going to be all right.
The war is almost over, though we still have a long way to go.
Our enemy at the other end is Chlamydophylla felis; a bacterium endemic among domestic cats worldwide, primarily causing inflammation of feline conjunctiva (red, swollen eyes), rhinitis (runny nose) and respiratory problems. It can affect any cats but it is more often seen in kittens between 5 and 9 months of age and cats in overcrowded or stressful environments.
The predominant clinical sign of C. Felis is conjunctivitis; an abnormal eye discharge due to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane lining the inside of the eyelid (it’s that second eyelids that cat have) and the the white part of the eye itself, (known as the sclera). The eyes initially develop a watery discharge, as the infection progresses, the conjunctiva becomes reddened and swollen and the discharge becomes thicker. It may start out with discharge from one eye, but usually spreads to both eyes. Symptoms usually appear around 5 days after exposure. Mild upper respiratory symptoms such as low grade fever, crusty nose and sneezing. It is possible for a cat to appear outwardly healthy but be shedding the bacteria which can be passed onto other cats through eye discharge.
Chlamydophila felis attach themselves to the mucosal cells of the conjunctiva, gastrointestinal and genital tracts. In young kittens chlamydiosis may cause pneumonia.
C. felis can be cured through aggressive antibiotic treatment, both orally and for the swollen eye. Since it can cause respiratory problems, cats can lose their appetite because they can’t smell their food well (cats eat mostly based on smell, not on taste), and if their lung is infected they will be too suffocated to even want to eat or drink. This can cause cats to be dehydrated, and later on, die.
There is a vaccination available for Chlamydophila felis. It can reduce the severity of symptoms but doesn’t prevent infection in the first place. There are side effects associated with a small percentage of cats including lethargy, lameness, depression, anorexia, fever and therefore it is only recommended for high risk situations. American Association of Feline Practitioners don’t recommend routine use of this vaccination.
When I am still working my day job, it is almost impossible for me to win against C.felis and their friends. The characteristic of the bacteria (respiratory problem, non eating cats, dehydration) required full attendance and I can’t possibly care for the cats, much less kittens while I have to work at the office. It is why I always go home to find dead cats or those that I have to let go because I am almost always late to get home. Now that I took the plunge into full time animal rescue, I have my confidence because I can stay with the sick cats. I can keep them hydrated, I do whatever I can to keep them comfortable, I made them eat, I give medicine regularly, I can keep my eyes open to any symptoms and immediately connected to any vet whose number is on my phone. I am still slow because I have to do everything by myself, but I don’t have to wait a half day sitting helplessly behind my office desk before taking action.
This first day of the summer is like mother nature switching side to my favour. C. felis lived inside the cell of their host (the cat), this made them vulnerable in open environment; and since all the kitties feel strong enough to go outside, they can get as many clean and fresh air as possible.
While the weather is still bad, however, I need to rigorously prevent the disease from going round from one cat after another and re-infect cured cat. That’s why after all those feeding and medicating warfare with the kittens, I clean, clean, clean. I bleached the litter box, I bleach and scrub their cage pans, I bleach the floor, and the mop, and the blankets, and the beds. They all changed colours and look terribly ugly, but I bleach them anyway. I even bleach the wall, and for this matter, I am very lucky that white paint is cheaper than other colour (hence the developer paint all their houses’ interior white). I bought imported sanitizing spray because it can kill cat flu virus that usually riding Chlamydiosis, and although it kills my wallet very fast, I bought and spray anyway.
A few months ago, I got Kuning (pronounced coo + nee (like “neat”) + ending with ng) from my vet. He was crushed by car right at his stomach and since has gastrointestinal problem. To help him digest food, I gave him special formula for people with the same disease, and this formula is my crucial weapon in this year’s warfare. It is a peptide formula. Peptide is a readily digested protein. It’s lactose free and gluten free, and also low fat. It is easily absorbed with the body and help the cats retain their energy because they almost don’t eat anything. It is mixed with drinking water (in room temperature) so the cats are drinking and eating at the same time.
For the kitten I got a newborn baby formula for medically needy newborn. AL-110 is also lactose free and sucrose free.
If you guessed these two are expensive (at least in Indonesia), you guess right. Both are imported from Switzerland, and ALL imported items in Indonesia got twice to three times their original price elsewhere. This is why Indonesian government is very rich, while their countrymen are very poor.
It’s a long, exhausting war, but I determine that I can save more lives this year than the past.
And I do save more, gratefully. I still lost many, but more than half of the Syndicate’s kitten made it through.
The excruciating price of the war is paid by these:
Taking one deep breath, then, I looked behind me. There are still three kittens awaiting for that amazing leap of recovery that comes with drier season, but from their progress, I know I want to keep the war on.
I once read it on twitter that war is like nuclear reactor produces super heroes. It is a rare occasion, but even though those superheroes always win, the event produces more damage than endowment.
I have no affinities with those brands shown. They do not sponsor me. I just bought those because it’s on sale and the size made it easy for me to carry everywhere.
A little bit on the personal side (though I use it for the Whiskers’ Syndicate’s sake):
It’s a low end, local China made tab that my brother sent me after my cellphone was dead last month (it was soaked under sudden rain along with me, remember?). The brand is “Eggpadz” (you said “huh?” I told you it’s low end…) I used it literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to communicate with vets and call pet shops to deliver cat food, mobile banking (pay the bills, the vets and pet shops), answering emails and updating shop and after one month of abusive slavery (the kitten like to sleep on it too, because it’s warm), it too died on me (*sigh*). So there’s no fast email reply after this folks, and no online everyday until I got enough money to buy new cell phone. A decent cell phone that probably won’t die in a month cost around USD 250 (*heavy breath*).
I am not kidding with all those pictures. I know it’s kind of “funny”. I am just trying to take my major broke-ness in a lighter and more positive way. I don’t want to fill this site with laments all the time.
I am also not kidding with that “major broke-ness”. The donation bar at the right side of this site seems to be stuck at 50%, and our Etsy shop has been quiet as well. So, it’s rather impossible to buy anything.
Even so, I believe that there’s a way somewhere out there and I believe that that way will be opened if I don’t quit.
Besides, those are not all of my loss. The casualties of this war worth more than anything money can buy. All the kittens that didn’t make it through to see that sun on my window sill will stay alive in my heart and mind all the time. I envy them for being able to slip through life that easily and ended up at the bosom of our most gracious Lord, without pain, without hunger, or abuse or suffering, while I am still left here on filthy earth holding on to hope. Those kittens are priceless, and their presence in my heart will be my motivation to reach out to more street cats, until there are no more.
Sources for Chlamidophyla felis and Feline Chlamydiosis is coming from:
Click respective site name for more information.