My dear colleagues and family in The Whiskers’ Syndicate,

Today is the first day I come back to the Internet after I break myself open to run away from the kidnapping and hostage of my borderline bipolar’s depressive cycle. I wrote with double vision, so there will be typos and occasional grammatical errors, but I am not giving in to the grip of depression, why give in to double vision? Let my good intention be my defense, and let my sincerity speak through as my weapon.

I find it funny that I have to call you all “colleagues and family in The Whiskers’ Syndicate” as if we are part of a community. Maybe we are, but for me, it has never been. Whiskers’ Syndicate is indeed a community, Whiskers’ Syndicate is some sort of institution, and everyone has a life separate from it, but Whiskers’ Syndicate is my life. It breathes in and out with me, it spends the day and night with me, although its life or death is in our hands. Ours; you and me. So I shouldn’t need to say “colleagues and families in Whiskers’ Syndicate” because you are “colleagues and families” of me; no separation.

In most sincere honesty, I don’t know where it all began, much less, where it all went wrong. We all can only do the best in the certain circumstances that we are put into, with whatever we have.

When Spots’ health won’t improve, I had the premonition that he won’t grow into grey haired (how can? he is white) old man spending his retirement looking out of window with a scarf around his neck. I knew it will be somewhat violent, but I am sure it will be long winding.

I also know, however, that I shouldn’t make a great fuss about it. Harrowing drama is not in his character. Spots is like a cowboy. If he likes the sun, he goes out. If he doesn’t like it anymore, he goes in. If he loves the wind, he’d jump three metres (six feet) down to flirt with it, but when the missus said it’s enough and stand by the door with her hand on her hip, he’d come to me with his round, purely innocent eyes. Once in a while he will keep riding horses until my patience runs thin and I scream his name at the top of my lungs to echo across the mountain, but hey, that’s my cowboy.

I know that it’s excruciating for him to have to wear diapers everywhere and drag his rear to places, but he’s a cowboy. He has his pride but for now, he choose his will. So I am standing by to guarantee him that right to live, until he decided he’d just go jump on horses and go ride the wind.

It means constant checking, constant nannying, constant serving, but he is my cowboy.

I had forgotten how Artemis came into my life, at least for now, but he was jet black with pointy ear like a witch cat in a Japanese anime. He came along with droves of kitty season and whoosh, six years later, he is still jet black with pointy ears and bright, yellowish green eyes.

It’s just that, his skin had turned yellow. For a cat with leukemia, it means the day not anymore long winding down. It means, the final countdown and there might never been the day after tomorrow. Although he still jump from place to place, Artemis starts missing his landing point. It will take a crash for me to drop everything, running down to him and gift him a lift to where he wants to. I don’t mind, really, because when he claim his moon throne, he’d be god, I won’t be able to carry him like football anymore.

And still we have Sassy. She came as an adult after former lifetime as an attendant of a fried rice stalls up the hill. She is unique and I have very rarely seen a dilute blue tortie in the country. She sure has a value in her so she can’t just be fixed and returned where she always running away back to. It’s a life in prison for her, but life in prison is better than life in a mill.

Sure, I should just move on and put that heck of a hormone spay story behind, but it just keeps haunting me, now that all the half-spayed kitties grow older. Sandi had a change of character (she becomes neurotic), Blossom cost me USD 700 that whacked me on the face when I am already in the dirt scraping for money.

Sassy, grows bumps.

I had hoped that it will be gone by itself, because some cysts, so I am told, can resolve on its on. I kind of wonder how it is, but Malaya had cyst and it resolves on its own (with Whis-craft of various herbs and supplements and honey, and strains after strains of stress), so maybe Sassy can do the same magic.

It seems like it’s not her magic.

So off to the vet she went. I have no idea how I am going to pay for her treatment because currently I live hand to mouth, from zero penny to zero penny, but gambling her on mammary gland tumor? no, seriously.

Well, it turned out to be hernia (because of sloppy job stitches) and of course, baby tumors. Vet said, it’s good that they are taken out while they are baby, because they can multiply faster and more than the cats itself. She took out the infected, leftover part, and return home with a bad hangover. Talking about an angry drunk old hag! The vet rolled her eyes and I slap my forehead, but she is all right now. After two days of tantrums and vomits, Sassy is all right now. She filed a complaint for her overly sticky band aid across her tummy, but I can only stand by her and say “Sue me Sassy, you won’t get anything, I am penniless”

And with Sassy, the little girl with raw tail went too. She has digestion so bad the vet are not sure she can handle surgery, but much a ado about that tail of her. It needs amputation or septicemia.

Again, I just come both hand in the air to the vet and downright told her I don’t have money. All of the avenues I tried for fundraising had failed and my God had forsaken me. Even my faith is in pawn shop right now and it won’t give me any Dollar.

Vet just smiled. “I’ll take care of her”

Boy ain’t that vet an angel.

There was this guy; handsome, charismatic, soft spoken, contacting me a few months ago, telling me that he is a worm farmer. He made worm meal and was wondering if I would like to try worm meal as an additive for cat food to bump up the protein level, because worm meal is 70% protein and it contains 34 of 37 minerals needed by cats.

I know his meal is pure because it’s friggin smelly. I can only use one teaspoon for the whole bucket or the whole house smells like panleukopenia and the cats won’t eat it.

Toward the end of March, he sent me message that one Saturday he will be in Bandung and he would like to go on visit. I was a little bit confident because I have the cleaner now and my house looks a little bit more decent, so I said OK.

He talked about this opportunity to formulate a supplement, his worm meal and my 110 secret spice of mixed vitamins herbs to help cats and especially rescue cats has better nutrition, because cats here has nothing but filler in their food. We would donate part of our profit to rescues and shelters so we can hep more.

Sounds like a great idea.

I am not Colonel Sanders though. So I asked him to send me more worm meal so I can send it to the lab to have nutritional facts establish, then I am going to mix it and have the ingredients cross matched with AAFCO or European Pet Food organization standard, then we’re talking business. Like, design, packaging, venue to sell, etcetera.

He said, “Sounds like a good idea”

But, as soon as he was gone, came his barrage of whatsapp messages about articles, magazine screencaptures, non-scientific journal about cat meal, cat supplements, packaging, brands of supplements whatever, whatever, whatever, that sometimes I didn’t sleep replying and answering and explaining.

It is becoming clear to me that he just can’t wait to get down to business and reap money, because no one else in Indonesia has this sort of supplement before.

Every single time, I just return the ball to him by asking for his lab samples, but he is evasive. He is good. He spoke convincingly like JFK.

It might be the company he is working for: APP. Yes, that world giant paper mill. They have been playing devil’s advocate here for decades and was cutting Indonesia’s rain forest and decimating our conservation, until my current president stand by our new minister of environment and slap four million Dollar fine and close down local wood companies that turned out to be their spawn (and our president got bad mouthed and sworn at by petitions signed by some of you, dear friends). That four million USD is now a replanted four million square kilometers of conservation (and parks and anti illegal logging campaign). APP was given two choices, use sustainable resources, or take a hike.

That’s a sidepoint though. I can brag about my country a little, after all, if you read all the petitions calling us names and all the degradation, you’d find it appealing to throw some chair to the air too. Talking about human rights!

The point is, almost all of APP’s employees are like that. Like Keanu Reeve’s cold, stoic act when he plays a movie character by the same title.

Had he came to me a little bit further toward April, I probably be blinded by poverty already I’d just follow him like zombie. It’s just so happened that he became so (although discreetly) blatant about it that I sniffed he just wanted to rush me along, get the formula, and run with it while I am watching him from behind either still with starry eyes or biting my hand.

If there is ever any formula (I have B.S in Pharmacy and that BS is not abbreviated Bull Shit), I would of course do it the smart way and patented it under my name first before submitting it to him, as a guarantee that the supplements produced will truly be used for charity purposes and not purely commercial.

I have been on the top of the world before and I am not in the dirt, do you think I am going to let him run away with my intellectual property that would rob the cats for life?

I cut him off. Samples, labs, scientific documents, legal arrangement, THEN business.

He never contact me again.

That’s OK. Good riddance. I need my energy elsewhere.

And that energy was supposed to be for the other businesses that I have been yapping about yet never happened even until today. That businesses has to always put to the side because at the end of every day, I have to clean up after the guy I pay to clean for me.

I continue to offer him clemency, give him plea bargain, the benefit of the doubt, whatever, but my advocates finally win. Close friends, families, all of you, win me over.

It’s final countdown. I followed him to the back (to take trash bag, actually) and saw him spraying poop all over the wall.

Susan had wondered aloud to me, why that particular corner always have poop on it. One of the perpetrators? Tango. She has neurological damage. She cannot walk straight, sometimes when she tried to go into the box she face planted into it. Of course, when one cat do it outside the box, the other will follow. This is a cat shelter, everyone is fighting for some corner.

However, now that the place is clean, I handle it and it stopped. Everybody is back to the box, and Tango has special arrangement. It’s clean. Well, sometimes, she still goes back to the corner if I have morning shift and haven’t clean the box when her nature calls, but it will only be hers. Just one.

I know. Nobody likes poop, right? But what about hosing it down the drain and clean it with long handled brush first instead of immediately spray it onto the wall? It’s not that I asked him to touch it with his hand!

The result is the same, the poop is gone, but guess what? Poop has smell. We probably can’t smell it but cats have six times the strength of a nose we have and if smells sticks…

And so, everyone started all over again.

My cleaner didn’t know that I was right behind him that day, watching him spraying and poop flying to the air like lottery ball in a human size blower tube on TV.

I was really going to defy you all and give him one more chance, but as you know it, I just took that garbage bag, go inside, put his salary in the envelope, and cut him off.

He spoke like an angel. He was polite and gentle and nice and everything, and I am just as merry. He sang many different songs, saying that he likes it here and that I am kind and generous and he likes the job.

But you know, all the judges can say yes but if Simon Cowell say no…

He can come back another day, if I am running out of options.

I would never have thought that an idiot will burn my last wick and drove me into exhaustion. It’s peaceful the next day, but I stopped eating.

That’s one key to handle depression. Look for clues. It’s not with circumstances, it’s not with situation, it’s not with events, or memories. It is seen and tangible. It’s different in everyone. Some suddenly sleepy all day, some went to movie binge, some went on impulse shopping, some suddenly spend twelve hours on the gym. Mine is eating. If I stop eating, my depression is coming in.

Problem is, my depression coming over on Thursday, when I was supposed to go crazy chasing the fundraising goal.

So there I was again, the joke of universe. Just when I was about to start my life, I was made to fall over and everyone up there laugh to tears.

Spots helps. He taught me strength. Artemis helps; he taught me grace. The kittens helps, they taught me resilience.

Heck, even our black Yoda helps. Look at that face, look at him. He is grotesque, he is ugly, and his eyes squinting. But Charlie, as I named him after Christine Alice’s recently departed kitty, Charlie taught me life.

It doesn’t matter what other cats are thinking of him, he just brush it off, stare it down, wag his tail and try again. If others hiss, or meow, or swat, he brush it off, stare it down, wag his tail, and try again. His flat face never changed. I never see him down, I never seen him sad, never seen him hurt, not in those eyes. He just keep wagging, trot here and there and have himself a good time, be comfortable in whatever skin he has. He knows he is different and others are not comfortable with him yet, but he brush it off, stare it down, wag his tail, life goes on.

So this morning, on tuna day, I watch the little fishes on my lotus bucket, feasting on their food, no one is going to make a ripple if not myself. You can catch the ripple, you can follow it, you can break it apart, but once the ripple is there, it left me, it’s no longer mine in the most part.

It’s just too bad that one idiot can drive me so far into exhaustion; it’s just too bad that someone can go so low to try and prey on a charity maker who try to help, but it could be anyone, it could be anything. But like they can push me down, I can go back up. It’s up to me.

So here I am, burnt out, disappointed, exhausted, double vision; but you won’t answer why does the sun go on shining, or why does the bird fly to shore.

You can cheer for me, but I have to get up by myself. You can run with me, but I have to run for myself. You can stand by me, but I have to fight my own war.

The good thing is, as much as I have things for myself, there are also things that we can do together.

I am taking my stand now, in front of you, colleagues and families. Tomorrow is Sunday where I am, it is the last day of the week. My time is running out, but yours might not. It will still be Saturday or even Friday night for you, you have the chance of our life in your hand.

We raised, magically, USD 452 to date. It means only USD 148 to go to reach the goal.

Please help me catch up with life for all of us. Please help me get up and go back running. Please there be a dozen of people donate USD 10 and save our lives for the next seven days.

The dark force may be strong, but let us follow Charlie’s lead. Let us brush it off, let us stare it down, wag our tail, and try again.

~ 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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