Jerry or Zombie – The cat who needs that new nebuliser: a rescue story

Do you see that pink tongue? It’s my ultimate joy. This chap came a long, long way since I grabbed him on February 21st.

He lived in a strip of a horrible 6-lanes road that never fell quiet. Crossing the street is futile, and those who tried their luck never return on their feet. There was nothing on his side but a single gas station (with no store), car workshop, blacksmith workshops. There are probably sewer rats that he somehow can catch with that severe cross eye, but when I saw him, he was crispy thin – literally, with dirt and grease mud all over him; his saliva dripping as he walked as fast as he can on that smeltering hot asphalt and concrete that paved the roadside.

Lifetime malnourishment had cut his system wide open for calicivirus, that gave him painful blisters everywhere in his mouth. His tongue cracked and bleeding, he can’t stop salivating.

Yet he lives. Though he has to walk miles and miles to find bits and scraps, he lives. Though he had to lick from metal tap that burn the dripping water in that gas station, he drinks.

When I first gave him food, he jumped and grabbed my hand, with claw stretched. He gulped his share, and followed me with round eyes for more. When it’s time for more, he will slap, claw, bite everyone to get all the food he can stuff in his mouth. It hurt him and his savage ways made his mouth bleed worse than ever, but he lived without food for the rest of his life. Should I expect a gentleman?

His name is Jerry, but his attitude and traits earned him his nickname.

Zombie.

It’s so difficult giving him medicine. If he thinks I have food, he will grab and claw my hand until he is convinced otherwise. If he thinks I have harmful objects (like bottles) he will attack me, thinking I will throw it to him to push him away. Most of the time I just mix his medicine with his food, but once he is better and can taste, he will kick his plate upside down until I gave him food without medicine.

Cleaning his stuffy nose is a challenge on its own. I have to wrestle him, wrap him in a towel or blanket, clean his crusty nose, and throw him into the nebuliser box, and then let him scratch and bang his crate when the steam fills in the crate. The more he moves, the more he went mad, the more he breathes, the more medicine is inhaled into his lungs.

Nowadays, he barely suffocates anymore. He still claws, he still bites, he draws blood from us time after time, but all the cracks and blisters in his mouth are healing. He eats better, he is healthier faster. I learned many new tricks: from mixing his medicine with syrup, wrapping a pinch of powdered pills into balls of meat, to give him a bowl of broth, call him to look the other way and switch his bowl. Whatever works.

Jerry still drools on everything because he no longer has teeth except for two fangs, but he is all right in every other way.

And he still hates our noisy compressor nebuliser, but hopefully we can get him that ultrasonic nebuliser soon, so his ears can rest easy.

One day he will stop being Zombie. One of these days, he will be one heck of a handsome Jerry

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

PS: picture is from the newest to the oldest.

Tammy

We are going to have that new nebuliser. Not many people responded to our plea, but we are going to have that new nebuliser, and we will see Tammy break off from a lifetime of misery and into a lifetime of wonders.

Tammy lived alone in a large swathe of parking lot of one of the largest wholesale franchise in this country. There is no food there, there is only sewer for her to drink from, there is not even a tree large enough for her to sit under.

When I walked past her, nearly three football field away, she was a wandering skeleton. In normal days, she would have had to walk far away to get to the nearest food stall, but now that everything is closed down, I don’t know how long has it been since she last ate something.

We forgot about buying things we need and took her to the vet.

Tammy had mastitis; Tammy has a meaty lump on her left chest, turned out to be a tumor. Tammy has calicivirus.
Calicivirus aside, we know she has ticks and fleas. We know she has worms, we know she has a long way to go.

For the vet to remove the tumor, she has to be healthy; and to be healthy, Tammy has to overcome her virus, the number two cat killer in the world. Then she has to gain weight, then she has to level up her immune system.

For her to withstand the calicivirus, she needs the nebuliser, even though staying in a covered crate next to a gas spewing, loud machine for 20 minutes horrified her, but we have to do it to clear her stuffy nose.

With the ultrasonic nebuliser, she will only have to sit in that crate for five minutes. She won’t have to be stressed by loud noise.

The rest is antibiotics, supplements, good food, and good environment.

In three weeks, she went from a dying lump of skeleton just outside my bedroom door, to a tough, resilient and persevering cat with an amazing personality.

I am looking forward to the day when Tammy is whole again.

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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Nebulizer appeal

Every day, we take home cats with upper respiratory infection. Cats with stuffy nose, kittens gaping like fish out of the water.
If their nose is blocked, cats cannot smell their food, if cats cannot smell their food, they wouldn’t eat, if they wouldn’t eat, they’re doomed.

The most immediate help is nebulization therapy: medication in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs to help ease thick mucus and clear breathing channels.

Three or four years back, we could only afford a compressor nebulizer. We put one adult cat or two kittens into a chamber and ran our nebulizer for twenty minutes, then we take another cat and put them in the chamber for another twenty minutes. Three times in a row, then we have to give our nebulizer a break, otherwise it will overheat. In one day, we can nebulize about ten to fifteen cats a day.

On days like now, when rain is unceasing and food source is rare – if any at all – street cats are tumbling down on their broken lungs more than ever. Our nebulizer is working nonstop to lend a breath to an endless stream of cats.

Three or four years back, only big hospitals or large animal clinics could afford anultrasonic nebulizer, which, instead of 20 minutes, needs only 5 minutes to clear nasal blockage and help a cat breathe again. Instead of 5 cc tube that will only medicate 2 cats or 4 kittens at a time, an ultrasonic nebulizer can hold up to 40 cc of medicine to help 16 cats or 32 kittens. Instead of having to spend 20 minutes for a cat to get better, ultrasonic nebulizer needs only 5 minutes.

Imagine how many cats we can help, with that?

Three or four years back, an ultrasonic nebulizer may cost more than 300 US Dollars. Nowadays, a decent one shown in the picture below cost only USD 150.

Can you help us purchase one unit, so we can help more cats?

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Post Script: While we are raising urgent fund for a new nebulizer, we want to continue helping cats especially those who lost their living as restaurants and markets are still closed in many areas so we will not stop our weekly fundraising. However, if you want to contribute specifically for the nebuliser, please be kind to write: BREATHE in the note as you made your donation.

Thoughts on the worsening situation when it comes to feeding strays and the rescued cats

At the end of a long winding day, sitting here at the curb as the day turned into the next is a sanctuary.

The quiet night, the cold wind, the darkness, the fresh, clean, unpolluted air. Now that the pandemic tested people even more and the distancing measure left less than 30% of people outside, even better.

I use to live this way: in silence, in relative isolation. Alone, but not lonely. More time than ever now, I miss those days. It was tiring, it was desolate, one day is more crushing than the other, sometimes it seems like impossible.

In front of me there is this row of stray cats, happily gobbling strips of fish, or pouches of food. Just like the way it is for me, it’s their sanctuary after a long winding day that started when all of a sudden the sources of their food simply vanished.

There are more of them in different places, sharing the same experience.

I looked up to the sky. Sometimes I find the moon, sometimes I find the stars. Sometimes both, many times, none at all. There are question that keeps resounding at the back of my mind, about when all of these challenges will be over. The longing of good old days, the resolution that we’d take better care of ourselves and each other, so that none of this thing should happen ever again.

There is no answer to those questions, not from me, at least not me alone. The rest of the world as one has to answer that. For this moment, I can only bask in this little piece of joy and serenity doing what I always want to do.

But how am I supposed to sustain these little joys? Joy to my ugly world, joy to their even uglier world. The sun is setting. The longer the pandemic stretches on, slowly, one after another, people are losing their resources, and when they lose resources, charities, and especially smaller ones like mine, looses theirs.

I hope that day will never come, but if it does – God forbid – , what should I tell them, who ran and hop toward me with gleaming eyes, that my bag is empty?

What should I tell the hundreds, that defeated greatest odds, just to find my home that I no longer have the medicine to ease their pain, to treat their elderly bones?

What should I tell these little souls, who found new life from boxes and bags left on the street and markets and pastures and all weird places, that today is the beginning of their long, miserable end?

I took a deep breath, just so my burning head will not turn to ash.

I stand up and looked into my empty bag. It’s time to go home.

Nobody will know whether the end is near or far. Nobody will know whether tomorrow will or never die.

We all can only believe, we all can only hope. I can only try. I can only have faith that the universe, God, loves all creatures, and have stored for them their living until the day they would move to the next. I can only have faith that there is enough for everyone.

I can only put forth my best effort, today more than the last, to find that pot of gold that will bring my charges and I through the day.

I should only know that tomorrow is another day, so let’s make it the best day whether it’d be the first, or whether it’d be the last.

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

AT THE EYE OF THE STORM

We are entering the strictest phase of Social and Physical Distancing started by our government last March, there is hope that start to brighten.

There are worries because people are still falling ill faster than a flick of a finger. The sheer ignorance shown by the residents of this archipelago are mind boggling, and now it costs everyone two weeks of their lives in self isolation or get locked in their own houses while police throw the keys. No, literally.

There are fears that two weeks of forced stay home will not be enough, there are fears that by the time this whole virus mess is over, no one will be left with anything to live on, much less pay the bills.

The hope is that, as more and more people have become aware about the pandemic and how it worked, more and more people will join the forces to adhere and enforce restrictions put in place. More and more people come together and help each other, more people choose humanity instead of the savage defiance they were showing at the beginning of the disaster.

There is hope that the end is near, and that we will be back to our lost world of normalcy really soon.

For Leon, however, there will be a new sense of normalcy. A new world he has just started to learn.

Just a brief moment, not so long ago, he thought he found himself an oasis. A different kind of person who cut a hole on his back wall, put a platform above the sewage alley, a little greenery, and a lot of food.

He would have to share; make a bee line for the large food bowl, in a queue for a bucket of fresh water; but in his corner of the world, where people all have more but care less, a little means a lot.

Until he contracted Upper Respiratory Infection.

A part of his true self wanted help, but his feral part prevented him. Fair weather provide relief, as he can eat and replenish his energy, but storm and wind would keep him away from his only source of life, sometimes for days; and there were more wind and storm than fair weather at the end of the spring.

Although his immune system has somewhat strengthened, now that he get good food, it’s still not strong enough, nor fast enough to fight the monsters inside him. Although his body can block the disease from destroying him completely, Leon paid for it with bleeding, rotting eyes that robbed him of his chance to survive.

After a long battle, his feral self gave up. Leon walked as best as he could, blood dripping from his eyes, tripping and crashing to the only safe place he knows: his food station.

He sat there and pray his luck has not yet run out.

Worker of his caretaker caught him, called their employer, employer called us, and we rushed him to the clinic.

Three vets, two vet techs, four hours surgery. Leon won the war for his life, but lost the battle for his eyes.

There were worries, fears, sympathy, pouring down as his story started to be heard. There were concerns and expression of pity. Leon is at the prime of his life, and he shouldn’t be defeated. Leon shouldn’t end like a loser sitting in the corner.

The hope is that, as I told many, Leon’s life is no longer threatened. He doesn’t have infection, he is not in pain.

The hope is, while his disease stole his life, it brings him home.

Home he would never know existed. Home with food, home with fresh water, home with warm blanket, home without storms and wind, home away from road danger, predators, careless people, ignorant crowd.

The hope is, he has his life, he has his chance, he is ready to move forward. The hope is, he has family, kittens who love to play around him, elderly ladies who take turn to sit beside him, shelf on the window where he can no longer see the world, but can listen to until he falls asleep, bamboo chair where he learn to walk, climb, jump in the dark, but experience in the light.

The hope is, Leon has us (and we are The Whiskers’ Syndicate)

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

A DAY IN PARADISE?

The moment I saw her, a song turned on my head.
“She calls out to the man in the street
“Sir, can you help me?
It’s gettin’ cold and there’s nowhere to sleep
Is there somewhere you can tell me?”

We have spent the whole day under scorching sun with bags of steamed tuna and pouches of cat food doling one more hope for cats (and sometimes dogs) stranded without a clue in the closed down town. We were just at the last minute to rush into that minimarket; the last one still open in the whole town. Nothing important, just a few bottles of cold drinks to quench our crispy throats and dehydrated limbs. Well, maybe a little bit of AC to soothe our sun-burned skin.

We have spent all our artilleries, so a can of cat foood, sardines if cat food is not available, for the little lady that turned on the song in my head,

Lining up in distance from everyone I hummed along in my head,
“She calls out to the man in the street
He can see she’s been crying
She’s got blisters on the soles of her feet
She can’t walk, but she’s trying”

I looked at her through the glass wall, watching her hopeful eyes go dim, and her head hung low, every time that one more person she was looking at walked past. Not even a glimpse,  as if she does not even exist. How many times has she mustered the strength and courage to ask one more – eh – human?

“Oh Lord, is there nothing more anybody can do?
Oh lord, there must be something you can say”

She called out to me on the street
I ran to her and lift her, rest her like a baby on my shoulder. 
“I’ve got a can for you, baby”, I whispered,.” I’ve got a can for you”

As I carry her away to a safer place, I can feel mange all over her. I can feel her skin curdled every now and then. I can feel all the scratch and pinch, I can imagine her enduring the torture of the enemy that eats her alive as she ran as fast as she can across that hot asphalt so her paws won’t burn, so her almost hairless skin won’t bake.

I can feel her breaths, I can feel her tummy heavy.

I can feel her muster her last power to jump off my arm, and onto the can of food that must be her first real meal; she almost forgotten as she lives through days and night holding on to rotting rubbish.

I can feel, my partner can feel, that although she looked pregnant, there was something wrong with that pregnancy. One side of her tummy was hard, the other side of that belly was water. Some of her nipples were like rock.

We looked at each other, and I gave my ATM to my partner. She walked to withdraw the last money we have, while I wait for the cat to finish eating.

This morning a thorough testing that took every last dime away told us she has uterine cancer. Our vets immediately moved their appointments to their two juniors, and cut away the monster that would have put her in slow and painful ride all the way to her last breath.

After six hours of veterinary intervention, she slept her day through on our kitty tower.

There was that part of the song that played in my head, when I took her pictures.
“She calls out to the man on the street
“Sir, can you help me?
It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep
Is there somewhere you can tell me?”

“He walks on, doesn’t look back
He pretends he can’t hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there”

“Oh think twice, cause it’s another day for
You and me in paradise
Oh think twice, it’s just another day for you
You and me in paradise”

I took a deep breath and run my finger through her bumpy back.. I heard her purr. She must be sore after all the tests and the surgery and whatever in between, before and after. She must be exhausted travelling across town back and forth.

“Hang in there, lady”
She opened her eyes and squinted at me, still sleepy.

It’ll be another for you and me in paradise.

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Post Script:
Song used in this story came from “Another Day In Paradise” , a song recorded by English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins. Produced by Collins along with Hugh Padgham, it was released as the first single from his number-one album …But Seriously (1989)