MA SARAH

It’s not easy to be the messenger of doom. There’ll be rock on one side, and hard places on the other, sharp pins all over.
Most will just go with the standard “It is with great sadness/sorrow/grief…” and go on from there, as formal as possible.
Those news fell onto me as generic, distant.
Bland.
So I never use it in my writing, especially not for my Ma Sarah Dunning.

Two months ago when she told me she had lung cancer, we knew it’s coming. I knew that one day in a not so distant future, I will be writing about her passing. We came into terms, then, as an active and faithful Catholics, that no matter how bad things seems to be, God knows best.

Yet since the day I learned from my Pa, to the day of her memorial service at the end of the same month, whenever I sat in front of the computer, nothing comes out but tears and emotions.
Ma Sarah and I exchanged messages and emails rarely. We have half of the whole world between us; time difference and everything that comes with it. She came to find Whiskers’ Syndicate three or four years ago – maybe more, since time seems to run double speed in my life – on a date I can no longer remember. I just remembered that it flowed like a river. I feel as if she is my mother, likewise, she felt as if I was her daughter. The many sameness in our view toward animal welfare, the angers we share toward the injustice, the questions we have of God’s apparent ignorance. Fighting for animal welfare is not as simple as moving mountains.

My admiration is to her strength to keep standing at the front line to fight for the animal welfare, even at the dusk of her age. Her ultimate resolution in her faith that our Father in heaven endowed toward us the dominion (not domination) among other creatures that should be respected instead of abused, much less taken for granted. Her sheer and unwavering conviction that all creatures deserve kindness, grace and love with which God had created humans.
My growing bond with Ma Sarah is from her cards. Every Easter, and every Christmas, on my birthday: cramming as much as she can in the small space between the prints, and I would do the same. Her well wishes, her words of wisdom, her encouragements. The strength she sent all the way to a daughter far away across the ocean who fights a lonely battle of saving animals in a land that never respected their God beyond the source of riches and power. It has been lonelier since her passing, and I will surely miss her card when my birthday comes next October 25th.

In the days prior to her memorial service, I was given a link for the event should I decided to watch online, due to the space and health restrictions that sweeps the world. In such a graceful way Pa reminded me that Ma’s was a life well lived, and that her memorial should be a celebration instead of sorrow.
I was notified that instead of flowers, Ma Sarah would love if her family and friends would give to two of her most beloved charities, Whiskers’ Syndicate being one of them. Just when I thought I reached the edges of this sea of grief, I was drowned in the ocean of humility. In her death, Ma Sarah did not go further. She is even closer. She did not leave, she stays near. She made sure that even after she moves to the other plain the cats will not be bereft of a benefactor they would never get in their own country.

Even when I can no longer see her, touch her, read her words, listen to her, Ma Sarah made sure that this lonely fight shall not be lost. That subtle nudge that the baton is now in my hand, and that like her, I should continue to give my all in our fight for animal rights.

This morning when I finally typed her name the first time after her passing, I know that Ma’s legacy is not mansions, titles, merits, awards. Ma Sarah’s legacy is the people who inherit her spirit in the liberty, egality and fraternity of all creatures. Ma’s legacy is the bond that connected everyone she left behind into a union of faith, of love, of kindness, of hope, and mutual passion in carrying the flame she always keep burning in her heart:
That all creatures are created with the same love, and therefore should live with the same love.

Chapeau, Ma.
~Josie

Pictures:
My beloved Ma Sarah Dunning, and two of the cats she sponsored at The Whiskers’ Syndicate: Rufus (lost one ear) and Timmy White

FIVE DAY’S JOURNEY

September 17, 2021
When I first got to know my vets some ten years ago, they had just lost their mentor. He was known as “Dr. Doolittle of Bandung” for his great passion for animals. Through the years, they are not only my vets, but they are also my friends. That friendship gave me the privilege of walking right through the back door and cut the line. I used that great privilege when I carried our girl that day. She had all the praises for staying still while the vets were trying to clean her jaw. Some parts were still raw and swollen. She had jaundice, and her skin was pale, almost white; so our vet took blood samples to find the cause. Our girl went home that night with a pain-killer, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotics that helped her sleep better.

September 18, 2021
Our girl turned out to be a boy. He was so thin we took his balls in the wrong way. Someone mentioned a character in DC comics with a deformed half of his face, and everyone started calling him Jonah Hex. I complained because our boy is too cute, too kind, and too gentle for a rough and tough Jonah Hex, but nobody cared. His inflammation was gone, though. Jonah can eat better, drink better, and gain more strength as he continues his battle for a second chance in life. The blood test result returned. Prolonged infection on his jaw gave Jonah a bit of blood poisoning, so he went home with yet another medicine to help him detoxify his blood, and allow his liver and kidney to work better.

September 19, 2021
War against parasites: de-worming, flea medication, and another antibiotic to fight gastrointestinal parasites that gave him pungent, bright, runny stool and smelly, yellow, thick urine. Detoxification is ongoing.

September 20, 2021
No more fleas, lots of worm purging, and the sweetest Jonah Hex is grooming, wandering around, and is playing with kittens.

September 21, 2021
Our vets removed one and a half teaspoons of rotting meat from Jonah’s jaw. We are glad to find out that despite all the infections, Jonah’s gum and most of his teeth are still in good condition.

September 24, 2021
Jonah eats normally. He can chew, he can drink, he can lick, he can jump to the kitchen counter to cut the line and get his favorite steamed chicken breast before the others. Jonah uses the litter box, he runs and jumps and plays, he follows me everywhere.
Unfortunately, there is no way for his cheek to grow back. Jonah will live with a hole over half his face forever, but he is wonderful to have around and is still the most handsome champion ever.

I still don’t understand why the best cat in the world should be named after an antihero (he could have been named after an angel) but there was one Jonah who went into the whale’s belly and got his second chance, so I’ll forget that Hex thing and be happy with just Jonah.

We’ll see the vet again in the morrow. For now, here is our champion greeting you all and smiles his biggest gratitude to everyone who made his journey possible.

~ Josie

It cost us USD 850 to give Jonah his second chance in life. We raised USD 425 throughout his journey to recovery; USD 375 in vet debt. If you haven’t got the chance to join Jonah’s quest to his new life, he will be grateful if you would be generous to contribute toward his well-deserved safety.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Urgent call to fund treatment

Sisters, Brothers, Friends,

I am on my way to ER with this little girl, whose half of her mouth was rotten. She also has an upper respiratory infection and gastrointestinal disease. Other tests are most likely necessary as she smells like a carcass already.

I doubt whatever treatment necessary will only cost USD 100 (that’s all I have in my wallet right now), but her life is definitely worth fighting beyond money can buy, so if you have a little bit left in your weekly allowance; if you find a dime or two between your sofa pillow or under your car seat, please help. Please donate, and also share and urge your friends or family to help as well.

And please, send your best prayers for her.

She only has you.

~Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Soyo

“I’m the logistic driver who often responds to your delivery bookings,” the man said. “It appeared to me that you genuinely love animals. I love picking up your goods and deliver them to your customers. Not all of them are nice, but you are always nice to people like us.”
The man in that logistic uniform went on to tell me that his family loves cats and that they have two.
A few days ago, one of their two cats suddenly had seizures. Nobody knew what to do; they can only hold each other and cry in horror as their little kitty slammed and threw himself on the ground. Blood and foamy saliva streamed on the floor when the little cat bit his tongue.

When the same terrifying event repeated throughout the next few days, he drove as fast as he could to my shop for help.
I suggested he brought his cat to a vet clinic downtown, knowing he won’t have much. I called my vets to explain what’s happening and hope they can help a struggling blue-collar man keep his family cat.
He came back with his cat in his arm that evening, telling me that after all those seizures at the vet, despite all help given, Soyo was paralyzed.

I agreed to keep Soyo on his behalf, and I promised him he can come and visit anytime. The man is the sole breadwinner of the family. His job was devastated by COVID, and he has two children and another cat who count on them to survive.
That night I found out that Soyo has otitis. The next day I found that he lost half of his teeth. Soyo’s back was hard as iron. He can’t bend his body.

Still another day after, I found a large abscess on his abdomen.
That afternoon I went to the clinic myself and spoke to a senior veterinarian.
It appeared that Soyo has either been kicked, hit with a heavy item, or run over by a vehicle. He managed to run back home, but since everyone in the house was busy with chores, jobs, or school, nobody realized what was happening.
An X-ray showed that a disk in his vertebrae was dislocated. It was that trauma that gave him his seizures, and the nerve damage eventually paralyzed him.

The only thing that stays alive in that four-month-old baby is his indomitable spirit and curiosity that beats hurdles. Soyo drags himself with his front legs to a pee pad nearby to relieve himself when I am too far away to hear him calling. He leans on other cats so he can bend as much as he can to groom himself. If one of our mama cats is near, he’ll crawl to her for a mother-kitten moment.
Soyo eats everything. From supplements to medicine, he takes them without complaint.

I started to give Soyo epilepsy medication at the urging of my vet but, after two days, Soyo the energetic kitten became vegetables. Soyo eats less and sleeps more. He became so lethargic he discharges where he lays and gets himself dirty all the time. He was less and less responsive.

I stopped his regimen despite my vet’s objections the day he stopped calling me and just stared blankly at the ceiling the whole day.
I was confident that Soyo did not suffer from epilepsy.
It was the result of the damage caused by the dislocated disk.
It was the trauma he suffered as a result of whatever evil he encountered that destroyed his life.
It made a stupid decision, and it almost cost Soyo the life he was fighting for.

Crying over spilled milk won’t give us another glass, so we started over. Good quality protein, Omega, Taurine, nerve strengthening supplements, probiotic, immune booster. One day at a time, one foot after another.
I got Soyo’s voice back. I see him grooming. Soon Soyo is strong enough to lift his head. Then he tries to move his limbs, then he tries to sit on his tummy. He still stares blankly at times, but he responds to most of my gestures.
Next, we went to see the vet last Friday to try acupuncture. He seemed to feel better right away, so I plan for more sessions.
His second session gave Soyo enough to swat some flies, and for the first time after three weeks as stiff as a rock, he can curl himself to sleep.

I don’t know how much acupuncture will help Soyo heal; for now, he is getting better. Although I don’t know how far we can go, for now, we have hope.
I don’t know where I will find the means to support his treatment, I don’t know where else I should seek to provide for his need. I don’t know who else I should turn to.
But for now, we try our best.

~ Josie

Help for Soyo: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

LONG JOURNEY HOME

It was mid-January when I read about a cat shot and left in a box, with rotten legs and back. It was too late; the vet had to remove her rotting half to keep her alive.
I told my long-lost friend I’d take the cat, but it wasn’t until March that I got more news about her. Perhaps the recuperation process takes longer than it should; maybe it’s the whole clinic and their doubt and objection that a cat that costs millions to the rescuer would end up in a shelter.

It’s not the tenth time people look down on me, despite my reputation, yet none of them want to adopt the cat themselves, citing work, lack of funds, lack of time, family, all the cliches.

Then my friend got COVID, so Fortune the cat stayed in a small pen alone in that overfilled, cramped clinic and joined Whiskers’ Syndicate in June.

Though only half of her remains, Fortune the cat keeps all her nine lives. She appointed herself the new boss of my petshop, running across the whole place faster than a speeding bullet and making everyone know she is in charge and giving commands. She shook the world when one day she slipped out of the door to have a picnic on a patch of green grass just by the corner. A woman screamed in horror seeing her, caught in hysteria, while Fortune and I watch the stupidity unfurl with raised eyebrows.

But for the ultimate safety, Fortune is banned from taking a walk even to the front of the house. She has toys, she has food, and she finds a new kind of sport: chasing flies across the shop.

Fortune and I have long arguments about it, but like it or not, she uses diapers so she won’t drag her exposed bottom in the dirt and get an infection, and I don’t need to mop the shop every three minutes because she leaks everywhere, causing the whole shop to reek of urine.

When no one is watching, though, we’re just two girls trying to get by with life. I’d sit on the stairs, and she’d climb over, and we’d talk like best friends. We’d talk about how different we are and how the world outcasts us just because we are different.
We also talk about how her devilish, commanding presence draws the strings of many stiffened hearts. The couriers who come and go to pick up and deliver goods would crack open and tell us about their cat(s), guys who got mocked because their inclination toward cats is not macho. Lady drivers told us they always carry a bag of cat food whenever she is on duty (we gave her a free bag of food for our friends out there). Two best friends, both motorbike taxi drivers, hide packets of Whiskas and sneak a minute or two to feed street cats in every parking lot they visit (they also have a few bags for our parking lot cats).

When it’s time to call it a business day, I leave Fortune in the shop. She doesn’t want to get along with others, and others are irritated by her mega ultra brattitude. She chooses a cat carrier as her flat, so I lined the carrier with warm fleece, provide plenty of food and water, and she’d stay in the shop with our outdoor cats, travelling strays, and a few wildlife creatures, spending the night in the warmth of my shop.

Tomorrow is another day. So good night to all, and to all, a good night.
~Josie

There are 160 other cats like Fortune in this little house on the hills, who try to leave their horrific past of abuse, neglect, hunger, and disease. Help me reverse their bad luck and keep them safe, cared and loved. paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Roof update

It seems like I will have to replace the fiberglass roof sooner.

Now chubby and round, Deliso stepped on one of the cracks on the roof and fell right through. Though I am a bit concerned about his bleeding jaw (he slammed his jaw onto a table on his way down), I am glad he is otherwise all right.
Tonight we can all see the full moon from our laundry room. We can all feel the fresh, cool breeze and gaze upon the stars all night long.
It will be warmer in the morning, though, and cats won’t be able to cozy up under the sun because it will be too bright and hot.

But the best thing is: we matched the challenge because all of us put our efforts together and brought the grassroots magic of The Whiskers’ Syndicate to the cats one more time.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to continue caring for these deserving cats. Thank you for helping me protect them from the elements and the dangers that entails. Thank you for giving them one more chance to have a safe, secure home.
Thank you.
I am now going to post a vacancy for a repairman, so no more cats should fell down the roof like Santa Claus, much less break their jaw on their way down.
Thank you.

~ Josie

If you missed the chance to match the challenge, there is still time to go to paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate to help me bring Deliso to see a vet and make sure he’s all right after 2.5 m (8.2 ft) crash landing (we can replace the broken plates later)