Girls Interrupted

Even hours after, my house still smells like carnage. Alcohol, disinfectant, antiseptic, medicine, pus, urine, the diminishing fume of two cups of warm green tea.

And this thick, sickening stench of blood.

It’s everywhere. In my cup of tea, on my clothes, on my skin, sticking into my nose clotting my brain.

The vet had long been free from the lingering choke, when she bid her farewell and on her way to her next client; and I should be able to run away as well, though I am still confined here, too tired to move.

For six hours we had been struggling to free one street cat from tangling, messy death; and it’s not a landslide victory.

Numerous times I have been taking a deep breath, hoping that fresh air will unwind my cluttered mind. What had happened was hard to understand, if it can be understood at all.

I remembered talking to Lori about it earlier, and she tried to give me an answer; but she was not here. She did not touch the cats for herself, she did not see it  just a few inches away with her own eyes, and she did not know the cat the way I do. She was tired and sleepy when I talked to her, and I don’t blame her at all. It was meant to be mine to deal with.

About three weeks ago I caught a glimpse of a street cat who walked stealthily with her rectum outside. It knew she was urgent. I have tried to follow her but I missed her when she slipped under a morgue cart in a clinic up the hill, at the back of my housing block. I was on my way home from paying a visit to the community authority who have just lost his mother-in-law.

When I thought they have calmed a bit, I came to visit again with a pot of Chrysanthemum and talked to his wife about the street cat who seems to have extra “meat” behind him. She told me she knew what I mean. Both her and the wife of another leader likes cats. They allow street cats to visit and give them food and not harm them, but that’s it. I don’t mind.

She told me she thought that cat has tumor and that the cat was going to be dead soon. Neither of the ladies want that cat to die in their house so they too have been keeping distance from the doomed cat.

At the beginning of the long weekend holiday last Thursday I found out that one of the cats in the colony I have been taking care of dripped blood from her vagina. She is still young, so my guess was that she got her first estrus and something went wrong. Since she was familiar with me I have no problem snatching her when she eats; and before she knew what was going on, she was already in my backpack, and I rushed to go home.


With antibiotics and herbal medication, her bloody rear seemed to get better; so I didn’t bring her to the vet when I rushed Liam to emergency. Besides, it is very hard to hold onto two restless cats when you ride a motorcycle.

The blood came back on Saturday so I contacted my traveling vet and asked if she can come on Sunday. She said she was out of town but will be coming Monday. I hung up and went to the market for some tuna.

By noon, the wife of that local authority told me that the sick cat I have been looking for is around. She gave the cat enough food and the cat is currently resting in an empty lot in front of her house, and she cover the cat with a big bamboo basket so she won’t go away.

I hid the tuna under the shoe rack at the porch and went to her house to retrieve the cat. The woman told me that the cat is female, not male as I thought she was.

She was a gentle cat. A bit skittish but she is sweet; familiar with human touch. I figured she belonged to someone but was abandoned when she has trouble with her rectum. When I release her in the living room she went direct to a basket in the corner and curl up there, watching around, until Tortie lazily drag herself over, yawned, and asked her to leave. That basket is Tortie’s after all. Then she just curl herself up in the corner and watch the other cats walked around.


I texted my vet again and told her there will be another patient with a prolapsed rectum who everyone thought has tumor. She asked me if it’s a new case, I said the rectum was dried outside and was exposed too long. She said ok.

At 8 pm I went around the hillside doling food for the colonies. It was quiet because everyone always wait until the very last second to go back home regardless they will be tired in the office the next day, but that’s how Indonesian, especially Sundanese, goes. They are national icon of laziness and carelessness.

I noticed that the tabby road had migrated higher into the hill, but I am not surprised. They live too near to the house of that brat who likes to throw stones at us whenever I feed the cats and like the way Sundanese goes, he was protected by his parents, which gives them the idea that whatever he does is correct.

When I turned around to feed the cats in the side yard, I noticed that the black and white cat in that colony has weird looking mouth. It was dark, so I cannot be sure, but I feel uneasy about leaving her, especially since she seems to try to draw my attention, so she went to my backpack carrier and went home with me.

It was late so I didn’t tell the vet she has another patient. I just send message to Lori about what happened and told her I won’t be around the next day.

I woke up earlier today, clean the house, feed the cats, and prepare for the surgeries. The vet came, I summarize what she ought to do, and she choose the prolapsed kitty first.

She was sedated, with a little bit of a riot. We put her on the table thinking that we will be cutting some rectum, stitching some intestines, and if condition allow, spay another street cat.

But upon closer inspection, we found out that it was not her rectum that stuck out.

It was her uterine that was somehow pushed out of her body and since it was exposed for who knows how long, dried out, got infected, and well, become a tumor.

I tried to joke that God tried to upgrade my vet tech skill by giving me harder cases. Still, it’s not much different. Instead of some rectum, we have to cut the protruding uterine, cut her open, cut the other part of uterine that was inside, leave a part of it, made a new vagina by sewing what is left of her uterine to the opening on her rear, and sew her back shut.

But blood was spurting and flowing like Niagara falls when we cut the tumorous uterine. Vet put a lot of clamps but she is still bleeding and her blood was damn smelly. It’s not fresh blood. It’s very dark, almost black, and it is very thick and sticky. We had so much trouble that I left the vet and bring a set of human sized hemostat clamps  that I have been using to turn my toys to the right side when I finished sewing them.

Her uterine was already so damaged, it start to stick together. If we just sew it she will have a new vagina but she won’t be able to pee, so we have to first sew the part of healthy uterine and then made her a new pee hole, then connect that new pee hole to the other parts.

l hope you can get what I mean.

If you don’t, bottom line is, we have a big surgery that supposed to be done in a hospital, with slabs of lab tests, breathed in anesthesia, laser cutter, skin glue, and probably a magnifying glass and a flash light strapped onto the vet’s forehead.

But we don’t have a hospital and we don’t have those fancy labs and flashlight, and we don’t have blood transfusion for cats, and we don’t have time. So we do all the procedures with three sets of surgical tools, injection anesthesia, scalpel, catgut thread and suture needles of various sizes, bottles of antibiotics, peeled eyes, desk lamp, all the swiftness in our souls and a lot of prayers.

And we made her a new set of urinating apparatus, tumor free, in six hours of surgery while keeping our own gut from throwing out.

When the vet finally said we’re done, she hold the cat in her arms and cradle her to a mat nearby. I told her that we might just perform the nastiest and craziest surgery in history.

We drank our teas in big gulps to calm our racing heartbeats and count on our fortunes.

We ran out of those fortunes on the next case.

I don’t know how it happened and who did it, but I know I would rather not find out.

The cat from the colony who got bloody mouth has her upper lips cut off. Her body was full of bruises from some blunt force, and the other bruises indicated she was dragged.

I don’t know how she survived either, but remembering how she greeted me so cheerfully the night before gave me a very hard time holding my tears. It must be painful. To have your mouth cut that you can’t eat or drink anymore, and beaten, and dragged. And she greeted me as if nothing happened.


Across the table, my vet was knitting her eyebrow, while stroking the cat who was sitting on the table. I thought she might be trying to digest what had been done to this cat and how to fix it. I tried not to get angry about what happened and I barely succeed; so I know how hard it must be for my vet, herself a cat lady, to try to understand what was going on and how to undo so much damage with very little technology that we have.

The cat looked at my vet and give her a soft head butt.

She understand I said slowly. The vet looked at me. I think she understand, I said again.

I told my vet how she cheerfully greeted me last night, and she sighed.

I know you want to save her as soon as possible, I said, We have to save her as soon as possible.

But part of that saving her should begin with clear mind and good concept of how it supposed to be done, and knowing that she will be able to endure whatever procedures that can be done.

I try to smile.

In front of me, I see my vet’s contorted body, stiff and small, expanded in relief.

I am glad you understand, she sighed, most people who call themselves rescuers won’t. Their best interest is announcing to the world what cruelty that has been done, as gruesome as possible, and that they save the cat. Whether or not the cat will live just another day or three years after.

Well this cat ain’t going anywhere. I shrugged. She wouldn’t be able to eat or drink without an upper lips and she was torn apart by all these wounds. I am not sure she is going to hold on even if we can fix her and do another six hours surgery. Even if she is, she won’t be going back to the street that way I guess.

Looking at the cat with pity, my vet delivers her verdict, She’ll be a baby. You will have to prepare a semi liquid food for her, you will have to drip that food into her mouth until she stops bleeding, you will have to bump up her weight and let all the smaller wounds heal. Meanwhile I will contact all the senior vets I know if they can help with her cut up lips or if we have enough technology and expertise to transplant some of her other parts to form a new upper lip.

I seriously can’t digest what people are thinking and how they come to have an idea to do what they do to this cat.

I replied honestly, Me neither, but she is here now, so I am going to just do it.

It will cost you a lot.

We’ll see about that, but I am not going to answer her cheerful greetings to me – despite her pain – with hopelessness and despair.

The vet dug her backpack, pull out various bottles and start to teach me what to give, where to give, how much, and when to give. It’s going to be an ensemble, but if it brings hope to this new resident of The Whiskers’ Syndicate, I’ll play that ensemble.

Vet will come again next week to check on the other cat, and her progress.

Let’s see what I can do meanwhile.

~ Josie

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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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