I WILL

While Sheilla and I agree about all things, we always approach them from opposite directions. I am always skeptical; she is always practical. I am far and deep; she is here and now, I am always theoretical, literary; she is otherwise.

Long story short, we had a big fight; and I mean big, big fight. I was already under pressure because of all the shelter things, and she is under pressure because of the “ancient one” who keeps chasing her back.

I left her without thinking; and when I was out of that pet shop, there was only me, the sky, the heavy street at the end of the year, so I start walking.

A few hundred meters down the road, I saw the flattened remain of a white and yellow kitten. There was nothing left of it but that dirty fur, so I keep on walking.

Another kilometer (1 kilometer = 0.6 mile), I saw what used to be a calico kitten. Red and black patch, with white shoes. There was nothing left of her, but from the position of that piece of fur, she was either sleeping on her side, or licking her paw, crushed from behind. I keep on walking.

Then, there were two round patches of black and white on the edge of a U turn. Two kittens, obviously siblings, side by side. From their placement, they were crushed by one big tire: definitely a car. There was nothing left of them, but two silent patches stuck on the road, so I kept on walking.

I crossed path with a bunch of kids; maybe ten, around ten and twelve years old, speaking like the lowest of social caste in this town. One hit bamboo stick along the pedestrian, one carried socks filled with sharp rock, another hold stone, and one has a snapped out guitar string, with two small stones on each end.

“What do you want to do with those?” I stopped them on their tracks.

“To hit a dog!” the one with the stick said, “Lots of people let their dog out at night”

That is true, but most of the dogs won’t be going too far from the fence, the furthest will be few steps away. Dogs here are not stupid. They sense the danger of the street, and of their surrounding, unlike cats, much less kittens.

“I can strangle a cat!” the other one said, “I put this around the neck and let them dangle to death, like shown on movies on TV”

“My brother use this on people” the kid swung around his rock filled socks like Thor and his Mjolnir. “He did it to people from motorcycle, and then he got money”

I was so fast, they didn’t realize anything until a few seconds later; their eyes popped because I had all their toys in my hand.

“You all should go home”, I said, I was sour from my own fight, but now I am bitter and spicy. “Go to the mosque and learn from your Imam, or do your homework, or do something more useful than inflicting harm to others”

They tried to gang fight me, but I walked away to a bright parking lot of KFC counter by the corner and the security looked at them like a hawk.

I keep on walking.

A few days ago this week, I saw a white kitten like Mark, flattened just by the roadside of a kitchen appliances store. There was nothing left of it, but that patch of soft, yet filthy fur, so I said nothing.

How people love to abandon kittens in parking lots of any shop, with self-enforced understanding (I read it “complete ignorance”) that they can live on their own, because they are cats.

As we rode a few hundred meters ahead, I saw an adult cat: tortoiseshell, with long, fluffy fur, chubby like Gata. She was crushed on the middle, and there was nothing left but minced meat in that part, but her head down to her front legs are complete and intact, and her hind legs down to her long, fan like tail was complete and intact. Her eyes were bulging out in horror, her mouth was opened, her tongue lifted to the middle of her mouth, as if she was roaring to that coming death, but lost the fight even before she start.

I screamed. I don’t care people looking at me with mocking eyes as if Sheilla is riding with a mad woman, but I screamed, and cried. All the way, fourty five minutes back to town; and when we got home, Sheilla’s back was wet and salty.

A loud, long horn hacked me back to the present, and two motorcycles, each with a young couple, each definitely in the height of their holiday madness, were swearing at each other. There was nothing I want to do with them, so I keep walking.

I keep walking until that fourty five degree hike that would be the last journey to my home; and on top of that hill hike, I saw the silhouette of a thin cat, dancing and bounding in mid air.

I screamed. I screamed and run regardless of the steep hike and I keep screaming until every passerby stopped their vehicle on the road side.

There, on the top, in the middle of the road, a cat was bouncing, spattering his blood all over places.

I screamed and I hold him, I ran across the street. A lady on the back of motorcycle in her pajamas was trying to stop me and convince me, in her panic and worry, that I should just put that cat on the road side. I ran past her and climbed the stairs like Harpies and their bleeding prey. I slammed the front door like bull on fire.

That cat was white with grey tabby patch.

That cat look at me for two seconds, and died in my arm.

I looked at the twinkles of this undying town as Sheilla and I cleaned all the blood spatter that trailed all the way into the house.

I did not sleep because every time I closed my eyes, I saw that white and yellow kitten, I saw that calico little girl, I saw the two black and white brothers, I saw the white baby. I saw the beautiful cat, cut into three in her middle, still staring blankly to incoming vehicle;

I saw that cat dancing his death in ultimate misery spattering his blood like voodoo.

That night when Sheilla hold me, and told me how much she was worried something had happened to me, even in her anger, I told her:

That I became a rescuer because I can feel them.

They never asked to be born, I never asked to be born.

They cannot choose where they are born into, I cannot choose where I was born into. I cannot choose who gave birth to me.

They never know what they do wrong. They just try to live, but they have to bear the mocking look, the kick, the hit, the spraying hot water, the incoming vehicle, the hand that dropped them away from their mother in the middle of nowhere.
I never know what I do wrong. I just try to live the right way. I did not do anyone any harm, but I have to bear the mocking look, the demeaning names, the harassment, the heart that push me away from society.

Because we are different.

When Sheilla told me to let them go, because there was nothing we can do, I told her:

Back then, as I walked home from Ace Hardware, twenty miles from home, I was the same as them. I have no identity, I have no status, I have no money, I have nothing. Everything was in the bag and the bag is with Sheilla.

No one knows me, like no one knows them. No one acknowledges me, like no one acknowledges them. No one cared about me, like no one cared about them. And if any harm was down upon us, no one will defend me, like no one defends them.

They were horrible in life, as I am horrible in life.

I cannot let those memories go. I will not let the memories go

Because as horrible as it is, as torturing as they are; those drying patches of dirty fur, that staring carcass, the tortured death dance, are the only evidence of their existence.

If no one would acknowledge them, I will. If no one would care about them, I will.

If no one loves them, I will.

~ Josie

If no one would love these cats, I will. What about you?
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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ONE, TWO, THREE

There was only one kitten, walking left to right and back again in distress. At the background of that platform where she was swallowed in panic, are public toilets, almost too full, and too dirty by the use of the sorts of crowds in our dilapidated bus terminal: The homeless, the desperate, the miserable.

Homeless, desperate, miserable, just like her. All over her body should be white fur, like the pristine clouds in the opening of the fogs every morning. Those spots should be gray tabby, and red tabby, but all of her, in one word, is “filthy”

I asked my motorbike taxi rider to stop. I know that jumping off motorbikes before they completely stop posed danger to the rider and to me, especially with piles of groceries and whatever in between bulking on the front and to the back; but even a glimpse of watching two months old kitten running back and forth as if hell is upon her is more than enough to wipe me off my calm and quiet.

I have been in that place much too often.

When I was there, with toes so close she can step on it, my back bent and my arm reached out, I saw another kitten, tortie and just as filthy, curling motionless, dying like the plant where she leaned on; too much urine, too much garbage, not enough compost.

So there were two in my arms, and as I look around, saw no more.

It will anger my home mate when she returned from her duty, to see all sort of thing scattered in the living room, but I did just that. I dropped the groceries, the soaps, and detergents and who knows what, and I tried my best to make the two of them comfortable. I know I didn’t have much time, that I have already lost the battle; but I am not jumping in to win the battle.

I jumped in because I love cats, because all lives are worth it, and I am a rescuer. It’s not over until the fat lady sing, and the only fat lady in the house who can sing is me.

They were clean two days later, they run around two days later, they were two little devils ready to take over the world; but the third day over, they are dead.

Panleukopenia.

So it’s over even without the fat lady singing.

With a bundle of two ex-joys in my arms, I went around that terminal once again. It’s a habit. I don’t know it’s good or bad, but whenever I can, if a cat died, I would pass the place where I found them one more time, with them in my arm, and then deliver them to the crematorium.

Just two steps away from where I stood that day I picked up the calico baby, there was another one. Sitting motionlessly, his dirty and sticky fur camouflaged him perfectly with another planter with a dying plant that drink too much urine, suffocated by too much garbage,

Surrounded by those who don’t even give a damn.

He cannot stand, he just looked at me with two round eyes, and expression I cannot explain. Part of them was helplessness, the other part peace and acceptance, that he will die there, just like the heart of those who neglect them there.

When I bent to pick him up, and put him on my bundle, he meowed. He rubbed his sticky and filthy cheek on the fleece, and looked at me.

This time, I understand.

I understand that no matter what God will work mysteriously, that universe moves in its own way, and that for every Pandora’s box that was opened to a hell broke lose, one hope remains.

That hope was two months old, with broken hind legs, infection, parasites, and all hell broke lose upon him.

I rode with him to the crematorium.

I let him watch me send away his siblings.

He let me carry him in my jacket as I walked down that green meadow with row and row of headstones and butterflies.

It’s too late for his leg to be reformed the way it should be, and even if there is a way, he is too small to endure God knows how much surgeries. Whatever crushed him expelled him to the wall of that public toilet and with pain and innocence of a two months old kitten he dragged himself to the safest place in his immature opinion.

So, I choose to trust his system. I choose to let him use his magical kitten healing power, even if it means he will walk with a limp. We removed the infection that bulging out of his leg. It was candy. We removed the parasites that sucked his life out alive. We dipped him in a warm bath because there is no way we apply flea and tick killer without killing him.

We give him the best food and the best supplement, so he can deal with the persistent diarrhea that almost convince me he had the same disease as his passing siblings.

I asked for help because I was overwhelmed with sick kittens, sick kittens’ vet bills, and sick kittens’ prescriptions invoice.

I was overwhelmed with Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year where everyone indulges each other for the birth of Jesus, who was supposed to born for the likes of him.

I was overwhelmed with the realization that this Christmas, I will give him my heart but the very next day he might take it away despite all my effort.

And then again, God works mysteriously, the universe moves in its own way, and a path was opened when I was gambling with three talents that a friend promised me and secured enough for a matching challenge. If I had this chance, I’d pay all the overwhelming bills and invoices, and live long enough to gamble my life for kibbles in the bowl.

Mark walked with a limp and ran around in a funny way, but he is a bundle of joy that hope brings to me when the Pandora’s box swallowed another two.

Mark sounds like a trumpet with his peculiar voice asking for food, asking for food, asking for scratches, asking for play, asking for food, asking for cradles, asking for food.

Still the day is long and the night is treacherous. Mark is two months old and has the whole life ahead of him.

A whole life that I failed on his two siblings; so I better not fail on him.

And the only thing that is certain is that God works mysteriously, the universe moves on its own way

That I only know to do my best.

~ Josie

Help me help Mark grow to own the whole life that is ahead of him:paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS

It felt outlandish; going home at the end of this Christmas day. Walking through an empty road that hours ago was bustling with holiday-goers merry making throughout the long weekend.

My house is on that hills, among quiet others. Just as quiet, a little bit dark. There was no one around, no sound abound. No sparkling light, no bunting, no mistletoe, no wreath hanging, no Christmas tree.

Only a pair of green eyes glistening, and a wisp of hair, flying to greet me.

It’s just as outlandish when I bent on my knee and open my arms to embrace that lush, fluffy fur, heavy tummy and loud purr.

Gata was a different cat; six months ago. She was a friendly stray who roamed a long alley where a resident feed her on the roadside, encourage her to mate and mate, giving her a place to give birth on the porch, and when her children were old enough to be weaned, taken away to be sold.

She lived with persisting pain that came from her infected uterus, slowly spread to her intestine. She was abused by kids neglected and uneducated by their parents, busy for other worldly goods that seem to worth more than filial piety.

She endured in silence until a young woman took her away from those abusing children, and waited long enough until my hands were both free after another urgent and grisly rescue on the opposite side of town.

She has nothing to lose, because all that she has, were already lost.

Yet she lived on that one remaining life through three surgeries, months of recovery, multiple injections daily, endless amount of medicines and supplements, food that comes in syringe, and riotous kittens coming and going, running all over her hurting bones and lethargic limbs.

And her first Christmas is here. Her first Christmas without pain, without rain over her head, with full bowl ready just a few steps away, with cuddles, without kittens.

It was no longer outlandish, when I stand back on my feet. That empty living room, the silhouettes of my home, the soft humming sound of exhaust fans.

Six months ago, the days that follow, just like today, I don’t know where I am going.

I don’t know where life would lead me, I don’t even know if we will live another day.

One day it’s one thing, the other day, other things.

Like Gata, I only know how to live. Like Gata, I only know how to walk, one step after another, until the end comes to sight.

Like Gata, I only know how to give it one more try.

~ Josie

Like Gata we can only do what we can. Alone it’s a little, together it changes the world. Help us save many more Gata:
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Making our own cat food

As more and more cats become familiar with household surroundings, they are exposed to many things they are most unlikely come across in the wild. House plants are one of many examples; guilty pleasure (human) treats are the other, and greed and ignorance is yet another on the list.

While their sharp instinct will often save them from jeopardy, their curiosity kills them just as often, and it is our responsibility as ‘cat parents’ to take care of our family members.

In June 2014, Whiskers’ Syndicate experienced the worse food poisoning outbreak in our decade of history. We trusted a pet store and a commercial brand (Pro Plan, at that time) to fill the ‘life tank’ of our cats for years. When suddenly stocks were dwindling and I was ready to move on, magically some sacks appeared in the stock and the pet supplies store was happy to send in ten large bags to our shelter.

It turned out that those bags were recalled in Hong Kong, and a little bit of sweet talk and the lure of cheap price (which means large margin) blinded our partner. No less than sixty cats who resided in our sanctuary got Aflatoxin poisoning.

Although there were no life casualties, it was an expensive lesson for me.

All sixty cats made a full recovery, but one of our superstars, Sage, had extreme rashes and allergic reactions that made him scratch himself to a bloody pulp. Walking him through his agony as he underwent treatments scratched my heart to bloody pulp. Sage did not have any allergies before, but after the incident, is allergic to corn and grain (except for oat). A tiny bit will send him back to his scratching frenzy.

Sage has permanent scars on his upper part of his body that always remind me of the bitter lesson. Ever since, I have been researching and consulting many vets about providing adequate and complete nutrition through home made food, partly because people here are well known to be able to lie and kill with the smile of an angel. With the help of our friends and family all over the world and guidance from various experts, we have successfully switched to nutritionally balanced home made food since March 2016.

Home made food is time consuming and more expensive, but the lives of our charges  are worth more than anything.

Read the story of our journey to recovery here:
https://www.facebook.com/wearethewhiskerssyndicate/posts/250283358502740

Caring for ninety cats inside, and about sixty two cats outside with only two persons is no less life challenging; especially in a place where animals (and earth) has no value beyond rocks and dirt. Those who follow our quest know that we are no daredevils, we are simple women with love for all creatures alive. For one decade now, all of us at Whiskers’ Syndicate have shown the world that it doesn’t take a lottery winning to start saving lives. Our average donation amount is USD 10. We have proven that half the globe is not a hindrance, that the willpower of small people, bunched together, moves mountains, turn tides, and again, saves lives.

If you haven’t already, I invite you to join our quest and empower us to do more every day.

Start here: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

These pictures were taken in June 2014, when Sage was the only cat still suffering from the food poisoning described above.

Happy Holidays, Whiskers’ Syndicate!

Here comes “the most wonderful time of the year” when everyone of you is preparing to celebrate the moment with family and friends.

At Whiskers’ Syndicate, we have a lot to celebrate! Through a decade, we have touched the lives of no less than 847 cats in need. Some of them, despite all our efforts, did not make it. The other ones thrive and get a second start in life in their own colony. Ninety two remains with us, waiting to heal completely before they return to their original place, waiting to be spayed or neutered before they start a new life as a healthy, worry free, litter-free kitties, or just to hang around and spend their days enriching our daily life.

Out of six colonies that we cared for, only two remains. Four have collapsed on its own due to aging or force of nature. While it is heart breaking for us when we realize that stray or feral cats in Bandung has average five years of age (that’s very short compared to other places abroad), we believe that whether it’s five or less or more, every one of them count; every single one is worth it.

If there is any regret, it will be Belle, Indy and a wee baby we call Mark. Last week I sent out a plea for help for a fund to give Belle and Indy an opportunity to regain their vision. Belle through plasma treatment, Indy through surgery.
I asked for help to raise USD 350 for two cats, but the rest of the week only produced USD 220 and the weekly fundraising produced nearly nothing.

Not so long after, I asked Christine Alice to ask for help for an eight weeks old baby cat with broken leg, destroyed teeth and ulcerated gum, among other things. He was with his two siblings, one calico, one tuxedo, but both were very sick and did not make it through, while Mark, despite all his external and internal injuries, survived and started to heal.

Mark will walk with a limp for the rest of his life. One of his legs that was crushed by passing vehicle (and expelled him to the wall of nearby security post) will be (about) twenty percent smaller than the other, because other than those, there was also growth on that leg as result of infection.

He will have difficulties eating because he was not immediately found and all the wound in his mouth had become infected and ulcerated. I can barely see him in that corner, on a mound of dirt and sand, waiting to die.

But I saw him regardless, and there is still a chance to save him.

Although we are running out of time for Belle and Indy before the damage in their eyes becomes permanent, we still can help them, if we hurry.

A kind Syndicate mobstress who takes time to contact me personally to learn about my situation offered to sponsor a matching challenge of USD 250, which I use to pitch other sponsors. We end up with a USD 500 matching challenge.

If we match the challenge, USD 1,000 is not enough to cover all the medical expenses. I have already scheduled many jobs to do throughout the holiday, so I will not be with the cats, nor with family on Christmas. I will be working so they will not have to stay in the cold like the little match girl, whose dream never came true in her short real life.

Five years or less or more, every life worth it, and I will do all in my capability to give them the best chance for a first Christmas away from rain and under a warm blanket with a full tummy.

I don’t know if there will be a second Christmas for them, I do not know if there will be new year for us, but I know, and I know you know, that here at Whiskers’ Syndicate, we do not need lottery winnings to save lives. Here at Whiskers’ Syndicate, wars and battles are won by the power and virtue of small people. Here at Whiskers’ Syndicate, love, not money, not power, triumph.

Here at Whiskers’ Syndicate, better future of abused, neglected and stray cats are not something to wish for, it is something that we make happen with our hand, and the magic of our love.

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it, and Happy Holiday to every one of you of other beliefs. Wishing you peace and joy through the festivities of the day.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Kitten season

Among many factors that contribute to the estrus cycle of female cats, light (that affect temperature) is one. Cats need at least 10 hours a day to stay fertile, which is why kitty season happens during spring or summer.

Cats also breeds faster in temperate climates, and Indonesia is tropical country. We have kitty season all day long, even during rainy season.

This year is particularly bad for us, because monsoon coincides with URI and scabies outbreak in town. Unfortunately, nothing is done due to the lack of animal welfare law.

In the past monsoon, we have taken more than sixty kittens who lost their mother due to illness or traffic accidents. These six kittens were born on top of a waste pool of a pulmonary clinic and subsequently lost their mother. They have no choice but to inhale all sort of diseases and were suffering from many breathing difficulties.

Only three of these six babies survived their critical first month.. We are heart broken to lose so many, but of all who come through our door, we do our best to give them a chance.

Help us help them survive; they only have us: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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