You Better Watch Out, Santa Claus Is Moving Out Of Town!

as appeared in a feature in EFA/Etsy For Animals’ blog
by Nicole Planchon of Brizel4Animals

Goodday EFA peeps and cat supporters worldwide.

I have a special announcement and mission relating to an *emergency* fund raiser that I’d like to put forward today. It relates to an expense for a much needed item that our COTM recipient, The Whiskers’ Syndicate is in need of rather urgently.

If you havent already had a chance to familiarize yourself with our Charity of the Month and the challenges that they are facing at the moment… you can view our second COTM blog feature outlining their specific difficulties in detail.

The short of it is… that the residuals of the typhoon that hit the Philippines last month caused excessive rain storms in Bandung, Indonesia where The Whiskers’ Syndicate is located and as a consequence- the roof to their cattery was damaged. Estimated costs of repairs on fixing that and getting this unique cat sanctuary back on their feet is $5600. As of today, the PitchIn for this specific fund raising event is at $890- so they are only 15% there with 85% yet to be donated.


I’m sure you will all agree that Christmas Miracles are much needed at this time.

Apart from the roof repairs, part of this $5600 budget is/was to purchase four large cages to help keep safe those felines that have fallen ill with all the original flooding and from further recurring flooding issues since the roof remains un-repaired. The grounds are so saturated- drainage is slow, if at all existent and all new incoming rain compounds the problem further.

new cages

The Whiskers’ Syndicate is home to forty felines and with a very small sized main house- all forty of them are having to seek shelter in it. Due to these stressful conditions- some of the cats are having behavioral issues so a time-out space is also needed. There’s half a dozen reasons I can give you why having these cages are essential right now: sick cats, pregnant strays, misbehavin’, healing from injuries, shy newcomers, safe haven from roofers are six good reasons right there.

Samson on top

The EXCiTiNG news is that Ace Hardware is having an end of year sale and two cages have already been acquired at a 15% discount. Another two are on order and should be arriving within the next 24hrs. So in spite of only having 15% of the fundraiser in, so far, the four cages that were on the budget list will have been purchased at a discount and their benefits put into action right away.

Trying the hammock

Here’s the rub: the truth is… four cages aren’t enough but funds cannot be diverted for another two needed cages since they are not on the budget. That doesn’t mean they are not essential- it just means that saving for the roof work must come first despite the compromised day to day situation.

Ace Hardware will only be receiving 6 cages THIS weekend- & two of those have already sold to The Whiskers’ Syndicate. I would like to propose a separate fundraiser to purchase two more cages *within the next few days*. Their cost is an approximate $250 but only if we can urgently snag two more up at the discount *right away*. This is not a pressure tactic- this is simply the reality check on achieving our goal this weekend.

The emergency situation at this sanctuary makes everything a ‘make it or break it’ deal. You simply cannot imagine what its like to do rescue work in Bandung, Indonesia. Many would have given up by now, but not Josie, so please – can you spare some of your dollars for this ? or if you prefer, donate to the bigger goal of getting the roof repairs done ! It looks so bleak at the moment… but if everyone puts in a little- it would help a lot.

For this cage fundraiser… Click on the PitchIn above to make a donation… 50 people donating $5 each would make another two cages a much needed reality… or 25 with $10 to spare would be just grand too. less or more ? Great- whatever works for you… we can’t do this without you.

For this cage fundraiser… Click on the PitchIn above to make a donation… 50 people donating $5 each would make another two cages a much needed reality… or 25 with $10 to spare would be just grand too. less or more ? Great- whatever works for you… we can’t do this without you.

Once we’ve reached our goal with this specific cage fundraiser… overages will go towards roof repair- you can click below to donate to this BiGGER endeavor…

  Thank you SO much !
whiskers fb cover christmas 2013


Thank you for your consideration

your time and help are truly appreciated !


The Whiskers’ Syndicate is a private animal/cat sanctuary, they are the first, and only one operating in the breeder capital of Indonesia… a country without animal welfare, where even vets are backyard breeders.

Away With A Stranger

as appeared in a feature in EFA/Etsy For Animals’ blog
by josie t liem

home alone

One of the perks of having a cat is that they require less daily “maintenance” than dogs. They don’t have to be walked two or three times a day. If you have cats and you are running late at work, you don’t have to worry about being late for their walk. You know the cats will be fine. This is NOT to say that cats should be ignored or “left” for long amounts of time.

During my recent visits to the vet, which always seem to turn into an impromptu vet tech job, I saw the vet treat a terribly ill cat who, as it turns out, was left home alone for two weeks.

Basically she was left with a huge bowl of food and water. However, the water somehow spilled and ruined all the food. Vets believe this happened on day 1 or 2 so the cat had no food to eat for 2 weeks and no water. We worked on that cat from 10 am in the morning to 2 am the next morning and successfully treated the cat, but it now suffers permanent damage & the vet bills cost a pretty penny to the owner. Luckily, the owner’s mother loves the cat enough that she kept the cat for herself after that, otherwise the vet and I were sure that the cat would either be sold off or worse, thrown to the street.

The vets said that the longest someone should leave their cats is about 24 hours. Maybe 36 hours. In extreme circumstances 48 hours, but honestly, my preference is no longer than 24 hours. Cats can get sick and no one is there to give attention, and it can be a long, agonizing death. There are more than one occasion where I heard crying patients in the lobby with stories of how they come home from a vacation to a dead cat.

I’m sure lots of cats are successfully left for periods of time without incident; but because cats (and other animals) are “some one” not “some thing” expendable, I would prefer that their human check on them every day to make sure the cats have proper food and water, clean environment, and to check if the cats are safe and healthy.

Ideally, I prefer my “pet sitter” (can be anyone actually) to also spend a little time playing with them or sitting around – even if that means watching a movie, reading comic books, or just being “around”. If I come home to a dead cat – I’d have serious issues with that !

Boarding vs Pet Sitter

There’s also the option of boarding your cats. The pros are that you don’t have to let a stranger into your house, and if the boarding house knows what they are doing, they’d be taking care of your cats well enough.

The cons are that, you’d never know… One thing for sure, is that cats easily stress out because they dont adapt easily to new environments. And it’s not easy to find trust-able boarding. I also get a lot of clients complaining about their cats getting fleas from boarding… worms, scabies, even fatal sickness like upper respiratory infections or other viruses. Boarding house is not the owner of your pet, so they don’t always care about ‘maintenance’ issues. Your pets can be given different food or miss out on their vitamins or medications.

If you hire a pet sitter, however, you have someone checking your house, getting your mail and making your home looked “lived in” whilst you are away. If you are lucky, you can sometimes find someone who is willing to stay at your home. A pet sitter that stays at your home can give your pets plenty of attention. However, you have to find the right person. Office and staffs at veterinary clinics can make good candidates for this job. They are animal-people and are trained to detect medical problems should they arise. Your cat is in his own environment which is generally less stressful and most importantly, your cat will eat his own food and have his own routine. I am sure we all know that a change of food or an addition of treats can sometimes induce gastrointestinal upset, or hard-to-handle allergies. Unfortunately if you hire a wrong person, they can invite unwanted people or event into your house when you are not around. Plenty to worry about !

Whether you choose a kennel or pet sitter – make sure to provide clear instruction on what food your cat should be fed and any required medications. A good kennel or pet sitter will often play or sit with the cats several times a day. Give clear instructions on what you expect of his activity, playtime and interaction to be. Also, ensure that you provide good contact information in both instances in the case of an emergency.

If you are not planning to go away this holiday? That’s great, just make sure your pets stay safely inside the house.

Happy Holidays!

Oh Little Town of Mayhem

As appeared on EFA/ Etsy For Animal blog

Had I come home ten minutes later that evening, there would be no story to share today.

I was out running errands shipping out some Etsy orders and it was already chaotic when I got home. The feline ‘refugees’ were on top of anything and everything high and those who had not managed this feat called frantically, demanding me to open the front door right away. When I did, there was a strong current of panicked cats rushing inside the house, like a tsunami, and with them came along much mud and dirt.

looking for high place

Running away from chasing water

Even when we started The Whiskers Syndicate, our property was ‘primitive’. What we call a ‘cattery’ is simply a part of the backyard that has roof, and the rest of it is green grass.


Can you count how many cats are in the photo?

This is how the backyard looked like when we first moved in…

from the other side

under the sun

Nothing fancy, but better than bracing the cold winds of the highlands on a merciless city street without proper food or shelter !

After our typhoon inspired rain storm… the backyard had turned into a mess…

day after flood

puddle on corroded soil

The bamboos all bent over from harsh wind

and blocked the path:


And we can only look while hoping the sky won’t fall upon us.

gazing at the flood while wet

checking out

Due to roof damages, in the days that followed… even with the slightest rain we experienced multiple water leaks and sometimes it felt like we had no roof at all.

wet inside out

Under such condition plenty of cats, especially small kittens, became sick and needed intensive vet care and it became a dilemma. Its impossible to be in two places at the same time… when I am at the vet downtown, I am worried about rain flooding the cattery and when I am home, I feel guilty because some of the cats should be going to the vet. We do not have vehicle so all this takes much time.

Restoration is imminent. With my experiences in the past year and the support of generous supporters who donate or send medications and supplies… everyone has pulled through and we intend to do whatever we can to get through these trials.

Peta is one of our world famous cats. He voluntarily share his fatherly love to every kitten that comes into the sanctuary. He lost his favourite tree but is still taking time to comfort others…

eroded playground









peta Peta and his favourite palm tree  

peta - its going to be ok

Comforting Twinkle Magic, who got wet because he’s too small to climb washing machine   

And life goes on, regardless..

life goes on

enjoying first breakfast after the flood receded

whiskers av

Whiskers’ Syndicate is a private sanctuary, we are the first, and only one operating in this breeder capital of Indonesia, a country without animal welfare, where even vets are backyard breeders.

Team EFA is partnering up with friends of Whiskers’ Syndicate to help fundraise $5500, the estimated cost to repair damages from this typhoon inspired rain storm. Won’t you lend your hand to help our cats get their home repaired ?


Josie, did you know?

for a feature on Charity of The Month

Being born into a family of animal lovers, rescue work was a natural part of life for me at a young age; but in the spring of May 2008 when I relocated to Bandung for work, I had no idea just how much of my life would become dedicated to saving animals.

You see, I got used to being at the top in my hometown. I was a straight ‘A’ student with lines of scholarships and titles behind my name. Granted I started as a school teacher (part time work before I graduated) but once I made the jump I kept climbing the corporate ladder. Until one day I asked myself: “Now what?”

When a former client of my workplace called me with an offer, I just packed up and left everything to start all over. Everyone said I was crazy, but I would have been if I didn’t find something to keep my brain and passion moving. So, I got a brand new job, in a brand new holding company (of one of the largest textile machinery company in South East Asia), as an assistant to the brand new CEO, and then received my first promotion within 3 months! Fabulous? Not really. I just ran fast because I wanted to move out already.

This town appalled me from every side, especially with the way people treated each other, and more to the point the way they treated animals. The ignorance, the arrogance, the hypocrisy, the holier-than-thou attitude which are official character traits in this area.

n this small city, animals are ‘things’, not beings nor ‘someones’. No one wants to give way when someone else crosses the street… no one wants to stand in line… no one listens to the police when they are managing the street… no one gives regards to the rules… everyone is throwing garbage into the river, and in every nook and sewer of this “Paris Van Java”, you can find road-kills or decomposing carcasses of all kinds of animals, and in every flea market wildlife cramped into matchboxes to spend the rest of their existence in filth, for a dime.

The force that changed my life came about two weeks before Christmas… at the peak of my disgust and in the shape of a tiny B/W kitten who cried day and night for 3 days on a scorching pavement near the office and when it finally found shelter under my boss’ car, no one cared to get it out. It was the first time that my co-worker saw ‘the personal assistant of the CEO’ crawl under his Mercedes Benz wearing her expensive suit, high heels, make up… in order to pick up a half baked dirty kitten.


Kaitou - founding cat of The Whiskers' Syndicate
Kaitou – founding cat of The Whiskers’ Syndicate

At my boarding house, I saw the landlord’s 2 years old toddler kick their pet, a pregnant female cat that they never fed, whom despite the abuse, remained loyal to them. I lost myself when I saw that little boy heading for the cat again so I quickly picked her up and went to my room. I gave her a box, my blanket and no matter how many times I put her in that box she came back to me on the bed and then gave birth to five kittens right beside me!

An unforgettable event which compelled me to name her: “Amazing Grace”. She is a graceful cat, an amazing mother, and a stranger who trusted me enough to give birth in my arms… like a touch of heaven that turned me around and opened my eyes to a whole new world I had never seen before… a road less traveled which I was ready to take.

Grace and kids

I shared Grace and Kaitou’s story, through private messages to friends on Care2 and via emails. A few months later, I found two kittens injured by motorcycle and rescued them. But for the first time in my life, I was running short of money and was struggling to pay vet bills. I wrote about that too. I was told, given the idea, to start a blog, establish a Paypal account, and without knowing what the heck I was really doing… I started to receive donations to pay for the vet and even help raise these two kittens into adulthood.


Picassa – named after the abstract pattern above her right eye


Renoir, with hernia and a lot of parasites

Through the course of time our blog developed, and it recounted the otherwise untold stories of forsaken animals in our corrupted paradise.

The Whiskers’ Syndicate was founded and became the only hope, both for the animals, and for me… reaching out to those who cared and were willing to help. We were aliens to our own countrymen, but friends to Good Samaritans.

I started a side job as an online translator, as a storyboard writer, as a part time journalist, even as an athlete… all to keep food on the table for the growing numbers of cats under my care.

Renoir 1yo

Renoir 1 year later – a big brother to the new comers

Kaitou 1 yr

Kaitou – 1 year old with his favourite Starbucks bear

Every year, I faced eviction from landlords because of the cats… so we were forced to live in uncanny environments: an attic (hence cats living on the roof)… in 2010, we lived in a rental near a swamp… in 2011, no one would take us except for an old lady who liked cats and offered us a 6×8 square meter (516 square feet) area for me and at that point, 30 cats.

In 2012, The Whiskers’ Syndicate once again stood on the head of a pin when all of a sudden our rental could not be renewed and about to be left without roof nor room… our fate challenged my faith for longer than a moment… when out of nowhere we found our permanent home – an unsold property in a residential cluster that had a fair amount of land at its back and was surrounded by tall 2 story houses on both sides providing the cats with safety from traffic and human harm. So with what was left of my money, and hearty donations from friends around the world, I took a 19 year mortgage on the property… something that I will fight to keep with all my heart and soul !

artist exposed catnip mouse

One of my side job is selling handmade gifts for pets and pets lover. The catnip mice I promoted in this picture is featured internationally via Vicki Diane.


One of our most sought-after items for sale


Get one of this in your room and we guarantee you won’t slip when you wake up from your bed in the morning.

That August of 2012, with the support of our loyal friends, The Whiskers’ Syndicate was chosen as Shelter Of The Month by SPCA International. Alongside recommedations from our supporters, SPCAI knew about us from their “Operation Baghdad Pups” a campaign we helped, which assisted dogs and cats adopted by soldiers assigned in Iraq to fly safely to their new homes abroad.

To date, we have saved close to 400 cats and TNR around 248 of them, all with our own money and donations. Unfortunately only 5 of those were adopted out, due to the prevailing belief that domestic cats have no economic value (long haired or exotic purebred or mixed bred can be sold and bred without regulation).

The government does nothing to help us and have even tried to strangle us with non existent rules about animals which allows them to cull cats. Five is a small number, I know, but for a little town where 98% of its residents are backyard breeders (some of those are vets), we try not to discourage ourselves with the math, nor to have grandiose dreams of changing the world.

Our story is told through our blog, ‘Quest 2 Canaan’, which represents our earnest dream of peaceful co-existence between man and beast. Through Quest2Canaan we have met some of the most wonderful persons in the world, and with all their comments, writings, motivations… these became the source of our strength.

When I look back at all of the events that lead me to where I am now, it’s hard to believe how far I have come, and the unlikely “job training” that God gave me during my corporate years which prepared me for this role. I no longer have expensive suits, nor wear high heels, nor put on cosmetics… I no longer have corporate job that fills my wallet with lots of money to spend in the fanciest malls… and even if I was given the chance to change anything… I would do it the same all over again.

With this humble life, I am willing to die for this work of passion… a job which makes me feel like I am ten feet tall without wearing stilettos. I am happy to shake your hand with pride and say: I am an animal rescuer – I save lives everyday !


Little Match Girl


In the cold winter of 1845, Hans Christian Anderson wrote a tragic story about The Little Match Girl in the hope of nudging people to remember the poor and the needy in the middle of their shopping frenzy and party craze throughout holiday season.

Yet, one and a half century later, people still pass by the little match girl: the small business that hides in the cold nook of winter trying to sell what their hand can make, a kitten too young who shivers at the sting of the snow, or a little sanctuary in faraway land that was flood and mud infested when it’s passed by a typhoon.

I mean, who cares? You don’t want to be caught less fancy by your beholders when everyone in in their bling!

I hope you are not those who are captured in the middle of shopping frenzy and party crazy. I hope you are not those who, at the end of Christmas, find yourself back empty while watching the dead body that you could have help.

Even with the recent news about the flooding in our sanctuary, we still struggle to reach USD 800 in our Pitch In. Even when our friends and family reached out everywhere no one come and drop by to see if they can do something. Every day, I light up one of my matches and one after another, I got clearer picture that it is probably time for me to close down The Whiskers’ Syndicate.

wet cattery

under the sun

We are the first, and the only animal/cat sanctuary in Bandung, breeder capital of Indonesia, a country without animal welfare; and as such, when the rain and storm came slapping the highland, we become the only hope for animals to get some shelter, to have some towel and a little time to dried up and get little warm food.

Every night, we heard scratches on the front door and find hungry dog that can’t find food in the garbage. This particular night, under pouring rain that has just brought small flood into our sanctuary, we heard desperate meow from the roof of our porch and when I looked up, find one of the street cats that take residence in an empty lot at the corner of our residential cluster.

That black and white old man used to be a proud cat; the glint in his eyes, the way he raise his chin and straighten his tail as he walk at the rim of the street and on top of hot asphalt, day in, day out, since the day we moved into this house last year until tonight, when perhaps, for the first time in his life he has to beg for food and shelter.

He is not rejected, of course, though he has to stay in a cage because our sanctuary is full of the sick and the small and the mothers (who tend to claw on just anyone who passed their children). We don’t want our house to turn into a gladiator arena.

Still, when I am finally alone in the silence when the animals are asleep, I am carried into the clearer vision of those animals who will just go in and out of this house, that will become empty at the end of the last dime in my bank account.

I cannot sleep. When flood can ambush like a thief, the most common cause of casualties in the flood is because someone is too sound asleep. Besides, I am afraid to sleep, because I do not want to wake up to the day when I can no longer open my arms to stray animals.

The cost to repair our sanctuary reached a little bit over USD 5,000; and we need to buy more medicine, we need to buy more food, we need to take kittens to the vet every day, we need to make extra heater (it’s just light bulbs really, but we need around 50 of them), we need to clean the mud off everything, we need to buy new stove that’s rusty with all the dirt and is prone to leak some gas, we need to…

Make this short; it’s Mission Impossible, and you won’t even get to see some Tom Cruise.

Whiskers Syndicate Renovation 2013

At such time I didn’t realize that someone is watching. Someone from behind a glass window that might not be adorned with the fanciest holiday festive, but is watching over us and sharing the light of our matches.

To make additional income for the sanctuary I have been selling handmade gifts for pets and pets lover in Etsy, the largest online marketplace for anything hand made; and I am a member of Team EFA, Etsy For Animals, a group of hand-crafters who donates portion or all of their sales toward various animal charity.

Every month, Team EFA will choose one animal rescue as Charity Of The Month where we will donate portion or all of our sales. With such wonderful opportunity,  I am actively contribute to their Charity Of The Month (s) regardless of how much or less I made.

I just never dream that one of these days, when I thought I am coming to my last match, that my team leader Nicole Planchon of Brizel4TheAnimals secretly nominating The Whiskers’ Syndicate and we are chosen as their December Charity Of The Month.

Breath in relief, but just few times though. Team EFA has to make sales to help us get back on our feet, and herewith I invite you to peek in the nook of these marvellous small businesses that reach their hand out to benefit The Whiskers’ Syndicate and animals around the world.

If you are caught in the shopping frenzy and party crazy, click the picture at the bottom to buy this small busineses’ “matches” and share the joy and warmth of this holiday season with their items for you and yours and at the same time safe the lives of street animals who are flooded, cold and hungry in Bandung, breeder capital of Indonesia, a country without animal welfare.

wet and cold