The sun rise atop the mountains that stretch across the island, and the first rays that marked new day set the mountain top ablaze with greens and yellows from the trees touched by light.
Somewhere in that small hillside town, just like Bandung, people rose from their bed and prepared for a new day. It is probably the same with two neighbors; Ratna (pronounced rat-nah, means “gem” in Sanskrit and is a common name for females in the past) and Josie.
Somewhere along their day, they would both care for street cats in their neighborhood, one of them is an old hag Calico they come to call Chiko (just in case, it’s pronounced cheek-o). Like most of animal carer in smaller town across the country, they only know Whiskas, Friskies, or pindang (pronounced pin-dang). Pindang is tuna boiled with salt. It’s a traditional laymen food, but just like the myth where people associate cat with milk (or fish), Pindang is associated with cats and people accept it without thinking.
We should know better; but we are not a sovereign country. We are the so called “third world” and in many part of this extensive archipelago, we do things and think things as if whatever happened in our lives are the right thing.
I want to guess that the two women know each other, maybe even neighbors. I want to guess that they would accompany each other going round the small town by the leg of the hill chatting and laughing, talking, telling stories of their family, children, and cats; but I never know, and I would probably will never know.
What I do know is that they have different mindset about animals and their place in this world. Josie would feed the cats who came to the house and walk away, but Ratna takes time for a little attention.
It really doesn’t make any difference, I guess, until one of the street cats, the old hag named Chiko, has open wound in her tummy. Open wound that become an ulcer, and grow wider, and larger.
Josie would still feed her, but she stop there. Ratna grew worry, and start looking for an insight through Facebook, a place that she seldom use, and only exist to sell her home made traditional food.
From one group to another, she came across Tyas (pronounced the same way you pronounced Diaz from Cameron Diaz), a young engineer, and a crazy cat lady who take Ratna and Chiko’s plea personally.
She guided Ratna into looking for a qualified vet, the best she can find in a small town, she called the vet, and ask for diagnosis.
Which is not good, obviously.
Chiko got mammary gland tumor because she breeds a little bit too many and the long time it takes before her condition is known make things worse. One part of her teats have burst open, and from the hole in the wall one can see her gastrointestinal equipments.
And then, like human enroaching the earth, tumors spread. Chiko needs to have an extensive surgery or she will literally turned into a living time bomb.
Not a good way to die.
With photos and a small paper detailing what is going on and what needed to be done and how much money it takes, Tyas then go from one group to another in facebook, fund raising.
One of the group where Tyas is a member somehow found The Whiskers’ Syndicate, and posted Chiko’s plea in haste, once upon a late Friday night.
It came in a wrong time, seriously. Donation had touched the lowest in December and many of our regular sponsor cancelled their monthly support. If anyone wants to know, I feel like totally alone, and of all things, God decided to test me.
I thought I would count on my Caturday post back then, planning and thinking and editing a little entry asking for help for my own sanctuary, but I really can’t turn around and pretend nothing happened.
So I reach back out to the one who send me the message and ask for detail. She told me the cat is not hers, and that she was touched by Chiko’s plea and wanted to help. She hooked Tyas to me, and walk away.
I decided to take the gamble with the sanctuary’s life as a bet after a friend of mine, Lisa, told me along the line that “It’s what rescue all about. Saving lives, helping others.
So instead of asking for a donation for my own shelter, I reached out and campaign for somebody else that I never know and probably never going to see. For the first time I compel myself to believe and have faith; convincing myself that all I need to do is lend a hand, and leave the rest to the Big Boss.
I told Tyas I am willing to help asking for donation, in exchange of a guarantee that Chiko will be adopted and given permanent home, is made into a full indoor cat, and is given good quality, healthy food, for as long as she lives.
Chiko hangs out Josie’s house more, but knowing that her neighbor won’t care too much, Ratna decided she will take over Chiko and turn her into a house cat; her cat.
The post went out on Saturday, a quiet day; but people come pledging and the USD 200 that was needed for the surgery (and a little bit more) turned into USD 250 within half an hour, most likely more if I didn’t stop the campaign.
Never happened in our history we get USD donation in less than half an hour. I envy Chiko somewhat; she gets the money that I also desperately need, in less time, with less the effort, but in term of desperate, her situation is a lot more grave than mine.
Her plea humbled me. It’s a gentle reminder from Heaven that I should look down below and not up all the time.
Chiko went to surgery, the vet ended up having to cut four big, nasty tumors and cleaned up the surrounding areas, which mean cut all nipples and completely remove her mammary gland. She will not be able to nurse anymore, hence while cutting her open, the vet also perform ovario- hysterectomy.
If she is sterilized, Chilo won’t go on heat, she won’t get pregnant, and she won’t need to nurse. She shouldn’t.
Don’t ask me about PicMix and how a vet still has time to use the app when he was on surgery; though I am very glad the vet decided to use a dark frame on the picture. Otherwise someone might have fainted.
Since Ratna has limited knowledge about caring for a cat, Chiko stayed in the clinic until she completely recovered and we paid to have her put on surveillance round the clock. Meanwhile Tyas has to make a long distance call and check with the vet regularly.
The first week, Chiko fared exquisitely. She has a healthy appetite, she takes her medicine without plenty of fuss, and she loves salmon.
We have Dachshund, the hot dog; we also have sausage cat. Chiko walks around the clinic a few days after the surgery.
A few days before I transferred the remaining donation, however, the vet noticed that she has liquid accumulating in her now (rather) empty abdomen. She is not allowed to go home per schedule, and instead, scheduled for a second surgery.
I do realize that with malignant tumor, it can spread, and that there will not be guarantee it won’t come back even after complete removal. In the other side, we know we should have expected it. Twelve years living on the street, exposed to the harshness of uncaring environment, eating who-knows-what, breeding excessively.
Even so, the fact that Chiko has to withstand the second surgery upset me and everyone else.
We can only pray, while thanking God the vet realize the situation very early and so we have better chance.
Chiko has to stay in the clinic, with drainage pipe intact, a cone, and a very bad mood.
We’re sorry for her, but we’re not sorry she retains her healthy appetite.
We do what we can. We give her the best food, the best care, best everything. The last one million Rupiah that was supposed to be for her food, is used for her second surgery, and we have to spend more for the food, but none of Tyas or I complained about it. Chiko has been through enough, and if we have to stretch just a little bit more to get her to better life, after twelve years on the street and two bout of surgeries, we’ll get her there.
One week later, Ratna herself posted on The Whiskers’ Syndicate page:
Ratna cannot speak English, so her message was very short, but it beats any best seller books in universe: