One Dollar One Life

Starting this week, every day I will share a story about a street cat who found his/her way to us and are in need of special medical attention in order to stay alive. In their urgent plight I am re-enacting our One Dollar One Life Campaign earlier (I used to campaign on second semester of the year) in the hope that more people will be encouraged to help us turn desperation into hope.

One Dollar is not much. A cup of coffee or warm tea worth more, and if only one, might not mean anything. Yet, I believe in the power of that one Dollar because We are The Whiskers’ Syndicate. We turn the globe around by the power of everyday people. We do not save life by privilege or luxury. We change the world by empowering each other with compassion, love, and togetherness.

Join us. You will see that all these kitties worth more than their stories.

Josie T Liem

Hello Whiskers’ Syndicate!

There was 5.0 Richter Scale earthquake on Tuesday, yesterday about 5 pm. Some regions in Bandung and surrounding area can feel tremors and shakes, and we’re both out of the house for jobs and errands during the earthquake. However, we are glad to share the news that we are all unharmed and there was no damage on the shelter.

On our way home later that night, I spotted this little girl, alone and terrified, trying to find her way out from under a pile of coconuts. She was crying the whole night and hissing to everyone all morning, but when the sun is warming up she found herself cozy in our mop bucket.

You will all yawn on my next sentence: we are not suppose to add anymore cats; not a single one. We have had enough seniors, enough disabled adults and far too many sick kittens, each with their own baggage and challenges.

But if you were in my position at that time, what will you do? There was no adequate source of food in the surrounding area. It was a small road with very heavy traffic, there is no street light except from the residences’ porch light, and there was no mother, no sibling in sight.

The only food available is coconut.

Can a two months kitten survive on coconut; raw and green?

After all said and done and fed, I came to another finding that the whole day yesterday, no one come and send donation.

You read it right. No one; nobody. It’s wee 00:30 am on Wednesday when my Tuesday has not even done, and one more come to the top of my plate: produce USD 480 by the end of the week, or all of us can only have empty bowl to eat.

Here we are, strong and hopeful that 2019 will bring new and fresh breathe, it feels sarcastically, ironically funny that right at this high time, we miss our fundraising by more than three quarter way.

“Josie, Whiskers’ Syndicate is different”, I said to myself.

Yes it is. We are different because we are not powered by celebrities. We are not inundated by seven figures checks.
We are powered by everyday people who has compassion and love. We are motored by many small hands that takes turn running the wheel.

We do not believe in magic, but we made miracles.

I hope this time too, there is this chance for us to see that we will still be alive one more week, so more needing cats can feel the love they otherwise would never know exist.

~ Josie



Year in and year out he is fighting for his life on that little corner. Sometimes a small battle, sometimes just a struggle. Most criss crossing that crowded small road full of ignorant people.

If he needs a refugee, a barbershop not far when he turn to the left. It has two cats, free flow cheap dry food, just two bowls of water, often contaminated with a strain of hair, or two.

But if that moon above him belongs to the king, he is Odin. He owns it all, he runs it all.

Unless for a small wound that I thought was a bleeding nose, pestering long enough as it grows and trail his blood wherever he goes.

Call me a Valkyrie, but the fact is I am no match for him, even in my own persistent chase; I lost him, or would rather let him go than have him run crossing that crowded street every other step along our battle. People here have no mercy. Even if it is human, they would run a human over anyway. Everybody is the emperor here, others are dogs, or stone, or dirt. You know the story, I repeat it far too often.

That one afternoon, after a long while in longing, in wishing him well, in hoping it was just a bad scratch from some other Norse warrior, I saw him again; crossing that corner.

Bigger ulcer, raw face, more blood.

At four pm in the afternoon by the end of new year holiday season, when people hurl themselves on the road with grunt and groan as they angrily rush their cars and motorbikes, mourning their lazy days, and unwillingly accept that the pile of hell they call work is piling up on them (as with the bills); we are on hot pursuit by the road and in the middle or among all the hustle. To the back of a wooden stall, under a parking car, into that barbershop, through the underside of brand new motorcycles on display in a roadside dealer.

Call me a Valkyrie, because I am not giving up, I am not backing down.

He made a wrong jump toward a row of barbed wall. I made my daring move holding him back. Either barbed wall on my arm, or his nail on my face.

We put him in my bag, bring him home, and transfer him to a better place in a safety and warmth of a carrier. We haven’t eaten since morning, we are tired, we are thirsty, we are hungry. We were trapped and stuck from one traffic jam to another, we were burned by the hot sun that should not come in the rainy season.

But call us Valkyrie. A rescuer has to do what she has to do; and we are back on the road with headache and hunger, and low blood sugar, and crank growing in the depth of our soul.

He has Sporotrichosis.

Sporotrichosis (also known as “rose gardener’s disease”[1) is a disease caused by the infection of the fungus Sporothrix schenckii. This fungal disease usually affects the skin, although other rare forms can affect the lungs, joints, bones, and even the brain. Because roses can spread the disease, it is one of a few diseases referred to as rose-thorn or rose-gardeners’ disease.

Because S. schenckii is naturally found in soil, hay, sphagnum moss, and plants, it usually affects farmers, gardeners, and agricultural workers. It enters through small cuts and abrasions in the skin to cause the infection. In case of sporotrichosis affecting the lungs, the fungal spores enter through the respiratory pathways. Sporotrichosis can also be acquired from handling cats with the disease; it is an occupational hazard for veterinarians.

Sporotrichosis progresses slowly – the first symptoms may appear 1 to 12 weeks (average 3 weeks) after the initial exposure to the fungus. Serious complications can also develop in patients who have a compromised immune system.

A rescuer has to do, what a rescuer has to do. Our purpose in this world is to alleviate pain inflicted to abused and neglected animals. Most of the time it means get them away from death.

Once in a while, however, it means giving them death.

He was six to eight pounds when I first spotted him, he has nothing but bone when I last touch him.

He has the fungus eating half his cheek, and corroding his jaw, he has no gum, he has no nose, not even nose bone. He cannot eat, he cannot drink, he breathes with serious difficulties.

Call me Valkyrie, and I call death for my Viking.

I call death to end his suffering, I call death to bring him peace, I call death so he can be free.

After all, he was already too compromised, that one third of his proper dose was enough to send him to sleep.

And off he goes to the throne of Odin.

~ Josie

In world like ours, if something does not spell “human” something does not matter; but a rescuer has to do, what rescuer has to do. We do not have government support, our service runs solely by the generosity of caring individuals.

Without your help, street cats like Viking will die a slow and miserable death, but if everyone gives a little, many more like him might turn their tide for the better.


Little flash in the night, from the house next to our door. Christmas tree, blinking light, family gathering together; but I looked only briefly ,as I ran down the stairs at ten in the dark night.

Little flash in the night, from the corner of the street. Empty community garden, quiet small alleyway, a small field where factory workers made traffic light, just few days ago, just like any day before this holiday; but I look not for the people, I look for Tabby, and Francesca, whenever she slipped out of the house through the drain at the back of the house.

Little flash in the night, from incoming vehicle, rushing home, going away. Be it for Christmas, or not, everybody is enjoying the coming long weekend; but I look ignorantly as they pass. Since the jerk of the health and safety (plus animal control, he said) threatened Deliso, we came only late at night, because his office will be closed, and no one will harass us, nor our favorite entertainer, and many others, who run to us for their dinner; or perhaps the only meal they have for the day.

Little flash in the night, as we turn our parking ticket and turn away to go home.

Little flash in the night, from the dim porch light of closed shops. Tired of the day, but can’t die out before the end of the night.

Little flash in the night, from a small alley where she passed from one bundle of rubbish to the other, seeking life. Her little feet sore, her face tired, desperate, and hurting, but she walked anyway, though she stops often just to sigh, peering at her tail.

Little flash in the night, from our motorcycle, when we turn around and cross that merciless street where people and animals alike lost their lives because others care only about themselves.

Little flash in the night, as her eyes squint in the middle of that alley; but only little flash, as I rushed toward her, and removed her away from the grip of death. The car that was about to enter the alley stopped long enough, and patient enough to turn off its headlight, to give me the chance to save her.

Some body, some people, big or small, twisted her tail and it broke in the middle. There were no more wounds, no more blood, but she cannot lift her tail without a wince in her tiny eyes and pain that kills her spine.

We feel too sorry for her, we didn’t look. We thought she was male, and named her Flash; after the shape of her broken tail. We took her home, cleaned her and helped her heal.

Little flash in the night, from the field across our door. Firework, cellphone flash, people celebrate the coming new year; but I look only briefly as harsh, cold wind freezes my cheek.

At the far back side of the door behind me, we turned on the only heating pad we can afford to buy, and everybody cuddled to share a few. We do not have trumpets, we do not light fireworks. We ate simple food.

In the middle of the gathering, Flash slept with her tummy up, unlike others. A few hours from now, when people endure their hangover, she will be in the middle of another crowd, lining up for breakfast that our friends and family all over the world afford for us.

Little flash in the night, from the light of the porch, but that glisten was far closer. Far closer as I found out the glimmering bead was our little Flash, playing in the light.

~ Josie

Flash the little Flash to a life long and prosper:


This is Nellie. The first picture was taken just recently, the next on one of her first days at The Whiskers Syndicate.

It’s one year today since Josie found her, frightened, hungry, and alone, while the New Year crowds gathered for the fireworks that terrify so many of the cats. Here’s a link to her story.

But what a difference a year has made for this beautiful girl, and for many others. Happy, well fed, cared for and loved, they have a place here, and once they arrive they’re loved and looked after for the rest of their lives.

You have all helped do this. You lend us your help and strength, your kindness and compassion. We couldn’t do it without you, and with you, we truly are The Whiskers Syndicate 💚

We wish all of you every single joy in the coming year. May it be bright and happy, and may a fresh wind blow through to take away what troubles it can and refresh your strength to deal with others. May you have joy and hope, and may we go forward together.




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?