Two years is a long journey; but it’s a longer journey for Gata, biding her days on the street, with meager to no food, with polluted water, and little place to hide when there came the rain, the cold, the thunder, the sun.
When she was pregnant, it was impossible. No one would offer even a tiny corner; maybe just one house, whose rubbish bin she often rummaged if any, but even that came with a price. They will take her babies, fluffy and puff with luxurious hair, just like her.
And they will kindly shove her out their door once she managed to raise her children, barely enough to wean them, and sell her kittens.
Every four months, over and again.
She would then come back to the streets of that alley, to an unwelcomed bunch of children who would play with her. Put a rope around her neck and drag her just like those other people with their dogs, poke her with a stick, pull her tail and swing her around.
She was less and less keen to keep her stance. She wouldn’t have enough power anyway.
Four years old, she was just 8 ounces and then a little bit more, when a new member of that alley; young and educated, came with a stern look and drove the children away. Put her in a box, brought her to the vet, and sent a message to The Whiskers’ Syndicate.
When I held her for that first time, limp and lifeless, I promised her that if she held on long enough to wake up the next day, she would come to see a different world.
The very next day she woke up to a steamed porridge of minced chicken and pork, soft and fragrant.
The next few days she would have egg stirred into soup with crab and fish.
We got rid of her parasite first, as it already started to damage her liver.
The next month we made it to the vet, and for the next four weeks, Gata endured three surgeries. First for her intestinal damage, second for her displaced shoulder blade, third for another intestinal surgery and spay.
When she came back home, after three months long crusade back to health, she was 3 kilograms (6 lbs) and something. She then gained another two pounds on her way.
We went to parks where she can roll over on the grass without a stick poking on her sides. We run back and forth chasing ball all the way from one end of our halls to the other. We stayed awake all night, weeks and weeks, hand feeding abandoned newborns and raise them all into kittens, and then to a cat.
We pouted our lips at bad cat food, according to Gata, and we ate dinner together, her with the best food I can afford; she approves, and me with the rest of the money, if any left from those bags of cat food.
We saw many sunrises, and weathered many storms. Days when we rejoice for a new bag of food,a newcomer who rose from their illnesses, those who are kind. Storms when there were much ado but we have nothing.
Tragedy when a neighbouring wall leaked into our kitchen, a gruelling three months of dust and dirt, worrying about food safety, cooking in the living room because there was only enough money to fix our home one bit at a time, and the victory when somehow the magic of love brought us enough to see a new kitchen.
All the laughter we share, all the tears, all the pain we went through together when Gata’s battered and tired body just wouldn’t hold up, and her health was steadily declining.
We knew what’s coming. Of many sun rises that we watch together, there will one day be one sunset.
We walk through that sunset yesterday, and see the new sunrise today; still together, just on a different side.
When Gata joined Whiskers’ Syndicate, I can only afford to feed 20 street cats a day. Today I have a chance to reach out to more like Gata then: abused, neglected, street cats and offer them the better world Gata had left us to cultivate.
For two cans of cat food we manage to raise, a pet food company will donate one more. There is no limit to the cat food we can raise, but today is the last day of the challenge.
Help me honor Gata’s legacy, and pass her good life so there will be less like her in the past, and more like her when she pass.