As Christmas was approaching back in 2013, everyone’s eyes were fixed on TV. A mega typhoon, called Haiyan, was forming atop Australia.

As it grew larger and larger, all experts were certain that the typhoon will sweep the country mercilessly, and everyone was bracing for the worse. It was like Armageddon, to some extent; and there was no Christmas spirit left among us, especially since Christians and Catholics are a minority here.

We can do nothing but pray, and in every mass we prayed that the birth of our Lord will bring salvation to us.

At the last minute, the typhoon changed course, and it’s head hit part of Philippines. It’s main body went to the ocean between us, but the tail hit us, Bandung, square on the face.

Our cattery was drowned. Eventually it had to be demolished, and it took us a little over three months to complete the renovation that cost us over USD 5,000.

While waiting for the flood to subside, these cages saved lives. Not one, not nine; sixty. Every single time the flood rose high, everyone flocked into the house.

Every morning when the dawn broke, everyone went into the house. They crammed into these cages, from 6:30 to 5:30, while the group of builders we hired worked hard to rebuild our sanctuary.

Sage spent his kittenhood in these cages, Stubby (named for her tail) went missing, but she eventually found her way back, and she gave birth to Einstein in the green little cage.

Isaac Newton was born in the Chrome one. He lost his brother, in that cage, and was abandoned by his mother in that cage.

After the renovation was done, they hosted four of our most panicky cats; most of them will try to get out of the house and jeopardize their lives because they will climb and cannot go down (ever), darting all over places like a pinball, slamming themselves onto everything as they run haphazardly and get themselves bloody pulp, or enter the drain pipes, and spend days and weeks there before coming out at the other side of the cluster (and it took Sassy longer and longer to find her way out). They have to stay in cages, maybe for life, but it keeps them safe.

Every so often, they will host pregnant mothers who fell into the cracks of life and couldn’t come out. They deliver their babies, raise them, and see them grow up to face the world, safe and secure, unlike theirs.

Yes, and soon it will be Malaya’s turn.

At other time, they will keep sick cats warm; each in their quarantine.

As these cages – the largest available in our market – see lives, so too, they become the last bed for those who departed. So many (especially during outbreaks), I could no longer count.

Today I look at them again, but there is only sighs as memories flashed back as I dismantle them, one by one.

Four years of soap, disinfectant, water, bleach, brush, scrubber, all the way back to urine, feces, vomit, sneezes.

Some of them had lost their legs, some got prosthetic, though it won’t last them much longer. Some had collapsed to one side, because half of their body decayed to rust, some so brittle, a kitty bump would snap their bars and become hazard.

I tried my best to keep them; for the old time sake. They have been my heroes, but sooner than later, I had to let them go, before they snap and hurt unsuspecting kittens who play hide and seek below them, or a senior cat who climbed onto them for a little peace of mind.

There are plans to replace them; especially for our group of manic panic. I know the new cages will be just as heroic as their predecessors. I should be able to save and skimp here and there; but only if the fundraising goes well.

Alas, as soon as the matching challenges are over, the finances are back in limbo.

I know that it’s hard everywhere, so I try not to lament about it too much. I know that each and every friends and family of The Whiskers’ Syndicate do their best, so I am exercising patience and observation. Whenever a leg buckled, I made sure there are enough bricks to hold it level. Whenever a bar snaps, I made sure there is enough duct tape to keep it from stabbing cats.

I know that if I keep trying, one day, hopefully in time, there will be proper dismissal of my heroes, and the welcoming of the new generation that will guard and host each of the incoming and outgoing cats with as much sturdiness and endurance as the ones before them.

I know that if I keep hoping, somewhere, somehow, someone (or more) will listen to our prayers.

~ 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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