The prayers rally had begun. People are rushing home with their motorcycles, or cars, weaving a random mess on the main street from my house. The impatient honking, the urging zooms, the careless turning.

It will be the same any given day, but it’s worse when people just want to get ready to party.

At the break of dawn tomorrow, when all this chaotic noises will fall silent, a cursed day will be upon us, upon me, at the very least.

Literally across the town, and around this merciless country, the floor of every mosque will be bathed with blood from animal sacrifice. The pure, light air of the hillside will be temporarily replaced by the suffocating stench of bloody iron, mixed with the sickening odour of raw flesh, and then, burning coal, and after that, barbecues.

The ritual supposed to revoke within human heart, the spirit of sharing with the less-than-have, and by doing so, flush the sins of greed out of ourselves and purify our heart in the face of God.

Somewhere in time, however, the ritual shifted into get together time for families, and then it drifted further into barbecue party day. People still brought in their goat, or cow, but those who purchased the sacrifice also waited in line, at the very front, choosing the best parts of the animals that they want, go home with plastic bag stained with blood, where their wives and children awaits with seasoning and watery mouth, impatient to start the joy. Leaving the worst part for the less-than-have. They are of lesser degree, they deserve the less.

According to the newspapers, or internet, or whatever channel people are watching or listening, every year, those less-than-have have to push and squeeze each other to get their rightful share, running from mosque to mosque to get their prize, and growing number of those are crushed to their death among the pile of men trying to get hold of a barbecue party, just for that one day in a year.

My mind wanders for a minute as I joined the rush on the street heading home, about what kind of God that demands that the floors of his house be bathed with blood, but only for a minute.

Because really, I should get myself ready with my own sacrifice. It’s long weekend, and I only have two sheets of five thousand Rupiahs (about half a USD) in my pocket and a few small changes. If I am being a good girl and sacrifice some dinners I might hold on until Wednesday, when working day restarted and I can show up for some side job to keep food on the table. Meanwhile, I just need to save money by walking half an hour uphill in the cold wind so I don’t have to pay some bike taxi to get home.

And then in the corner of my eye I saw a cat crouching in front of a man selling traditional fried chicken, his body frail and seemingly so sick, trying to beg silently for a piece of meal, when the man leaning defiantly on his big motorcycle with one leg crossed the other, arrogantly puffed smoke from his cigarette as he ignorantly watching his cell phone, as if nothing exist between his world and this.

I am not suppose to look; and even if I see it anyway I suppose to ignore it. Every day, hundreds of street animals died, and another one shouldn’t be no different.

My house is full. One more drop, and the cup will spill. The rain already come, but my medicine bag is still mostly empty. Indonesian Rupiah against US Dollar plummeted, and after years of Pro Plan for the cats, I can no longer afford to pay over half a million Rupiah for a sack of cat food that lasted only 2 days and a half. The government keep saying that Indonesia is safe, safe, safe. We are strong, strong, and rich, but inflation is already 10% down below their thrones and fancy cars, and I can’t be sure if it will not be 15% or more by the end of this year, for which they will find another reason to blame.

There are about 15 cats waiting in line to be spayed or neutered before they start yowling, spraying and sitting on top of each other and brings an influx of kittens into my already overflowing backyard, and Whiskers’ Syndicate shall come down into chaos.

One cat overlooked is OK. One cat sacrificed for the sake of forty, it’s OK.

But even as I keep telling myself it’s OK to just pass, my legs made their U turn and in a few minutes I am already behind the crouched cat. The man had moved somewhere nearer to his fried chicken stall, leaving the crooked beggar in its current position.

You see? I am not wrong. For that man, nothing exists between his big motorbike and his damned cell phone, a pride of Indonesian man.

When I lift him up by his armpit the cat yowled; but his yowled a sore voice, far away to resemble a meow. His body is stiff out of cold,and his skin is hard with crust. His belly is round and big, but his body is only bone and skin. Every other breath I heard him struggling to draw some air into his lung.

As I carry him inside my jacket, I could feel he tried to resist, but too tired to struggle. It doesn’t take long before he just stay still, probably trying to feel the warmth that he almost forgot. I ended up using one sheet of those five thousands Rupiahs to hire a bike taxi and get me uphill faster.

When got home, I perched him on top of the table and give him another sacrifice. A bowl full of cooked minced beef and chicken with scrambled egg for the nursing ladies. Tomorrow I will use the last sheet of five thousand Rupiah to get the ladies another portion.

He eat like the devil.


I touched his skin, but he care only of the warm slur in the bowl that is a silver platter perhaps this only time in his entire life. I pinched his scruff but it didn’t come back down.

He is dehydrated, and even a raisin still look better than his chapped ears and wrinkling neck. I grabbed the fluid bag and get him ready for a subcutaneous fluid. I know he won’t care as much if something stings a little behind him, so I pinch away and push the needle.

I am right again. He didn’t care. He didn’t care even when I have to keep pinching for a while to make way for the fluid to come in, as his skin stick together in the absence of natural fluid.

My fluid bag is half empty in minutes. It dripped like rain.

Between his snort and sneeze he just gobble down his meat. I decided that since his sinus is so bad I took antibiotic first instead of de-wormer, and squirt it into his bowl. Again, he didn’t care, but he eat so greedily that he ended up throwing half of his stomach a few minutes later, including the medicine.

It is obvious that there will be no use trying to tell him not to eat so fast, so I just give him some more food, one spoon at the time, adding softened dry food, and re done the medicine.

He is into nebulizer next. When he’s done, green slime is oozing from his nose, but that’s not what made me shudder.

His face; his droopy, tired eyes, his crooked nose, his half ridden mouth cavity, his charred ear. The remaining two fangs that are in his lower jaw protrudes out in an oblique angle to end almost right under his nose.

looking front with subq


And then, his crusty skin disease. His dried, wrinkled skin, his dandruff, the loose skin flakes dangling on his coarse fur, his discoloured coat, semi bald tail, his crooked back.

I saw worse, but it’s still hard not to gulp at such grotesque view that is now looking back at me, trying to figure what comes next.

looking up w subq
his left jaw is asymmetrical because of his protruding fang

Perhaps he went through so much already that nothing really matters. Perhaps he walk through the hell and back again that nothing really surprised or scared him.

But to live to such age, to hang on just another day, to keep putting one of his leg in front of the other, and go on living, he must have made a lot of sacrifices.

Until he can take none other, and give in to beg for a piece of recognizance, though from a wrong man.

Which make his guardian angel hit his forehead and instead, guide the right person to pick him up, and share him her sacrifices.

Baron Oscar Sebastian Grayson Cooper

a.k.a Handsome Teddy Bear Boy.

That’s what our new rescue will be called if we lined up all the finalists.

Let’s see all the entries again:

1. Teddy

2. Bear

3. Teddy Bear + 5 votes

4. Menanggung

5. Baron +4 votes

6. Cooper +4 votes

7. Dante

8. Oscar + 7 votes

9. Caesar

10. Sebastian +15 votes

11. Handsome Boy +6 votes

12. Grayson + 2 votes

According to the tally here is the position:

1. Sebastian (15)

2. Oscar (7)

3. Handsome Boy (6)

4. Teddy Bear (5)

6. Baron and Cooper (4)

7. Grayson (2)

8. Teddy, Bear, Menanggung, Dante, Caesar on the last places.

Until late Sept 23, 2013, it seems like the fate of Sebastian has been sealed. The name burst out of a sudden like a shooting star, until suddenly, near midnight, our email indicated last entry for the contest. Cooper catches up with 7 more votes.

It’s such a sprint, though still not enough to zoom pass through Sebastian; but it seems like the voter realize that too, because five minutes later this fervent supporter added 13 more votes to Cooper, totalling 20 more votes for the name that represent the coppery colour of our rescue’s captivating eyes.

So the last result is:

1. Cooper 24 votes

2. Sebastian 15 votes

3. Oscar 7 votes

4. Handsome Boy 6 votes

6. Teddy Bear 5 votes

7. Baron 4 votes

7. Grayson 2 votes

8. Teddy, Bear, Menanggung, Dante, Caesar on the last places.

We thank you for all the contestants. In our utmost honestly, we have never dreamed that our event will  be so merry with numerous entries because we can only offer a humble handbag and pouch.

We also thank our benefactress Lori Skaggs, who, taking the opportunity of the game, is fanning the fire by challenging every contestant to vote like crazy because each vote and, or entry will be matched. This coinciding challenge literally brought the game to a new height, in which everyone can have fun, win prizes, do good, and double the impact.

However, the ultimate joy in our hearts does not come from the festivities of the game. It comes from knowing that although we are ridiculed, abused, neglected on the streets of our own homeland, we have fellow cats and their people rooting on us, cheering us along the way, and share the joys and sorrows of our Quest to Canaan together. It gives us strength, and warmth, and power to put one more paw in front of the other, with hope that maybe, we will be liberated on the next step.

Thank you again, your participation means more than just donation. It means more than a heart beat.

Now, when we are all heating up for a new name, what does the subject do?

cooper on back

Congratulations to Trish Geidel from Australia for winning through her entry “Cooper” and Thank You for loving “Cooper” truly, madly, deeply. Since Google and Blogger kick us out, we will be sending your gifts on the first week of October.

One Moment in Time

As appeared in a post by Lori Skaggs on Facebook

Hi all Lori again.

I wanted to let you know that Josie may not be on much for the next few days. She’s working on upgrading the website and I promised to watch over the FB page for her. So I’m here talking to each and every one of you. You know Josie and you know the awesome work she does. You may not know this however. October is the start of monsoon season in Indonesia. In a few weeks, Josie will once again be fighting that horrific bacterial infection that takes so many of Banding’ s street cats. She will also be facing flooding in the sactuary.

There’s something we can help her with that will help keep the kitties living in the sanctuary dry and healthy…That’s donations. You all know I’m doing what I can to rally you all to donate $5 or $10 each so we can make sure the cats have what they need but the truth is that the $700 to $800 we raise each month doesn’t leave any extra for things like building a cat tree for the kitties to play on or a drain to keep the kitties dry or an isolation area for sick kitties. We are like the little boy who put his finger in the hole in the same to keep it from breaking. We get the job done but it’s not the fix that is needed. On behalf of Josie and the Syndicate, I am asking each of you to do what you can this month to make it the best month we’ve given Josie. There are now 166 friends on this page. If each of us donated just $10 that would be $1,660 and enough to make the sanctuary even safer, dryer and healthier for the cats. We need your help. It’s that simple.

In response to this heart touching post:

Josie T Liem

As my sister Lori has indicated, the domain registration for The Whiskers’ Syndicate will end on October 5 this year. It’s not supposed to be a problem if the rule is the same like the previous year. However, this year Google is changing the game. Instead of allowing us to pay with Paypal, they required all subscribers (Blogger/Blogspot) to pay through their own payment gateway which called Google checkout or Google Wallet or credit card. Google Checkout/wallet is only available in USA or UK, and I don’t have a credit card. Indonesian debit card is not accepted elsewhere in the world. This means I have to move the entire website to other place, or The Whiskers’ Syndicate is history.

If you all care enough to drop by to, you will have the chance to go through our journey to Canaan since 2010, when I was given the domain name “” as birthday gift from a supporter in Sweden, and through the website, has since have met the most wonderful, generous, kind hearted people all over the world who join our quest through their comments, emails, supports, and shares. I do not want such precious bonds been thrown to the “recycle bin”, erased, deleted, dumped – whatever the term used, by some techno geek in a gigantic company who might not even know what he/she is deleting, nor take chance to understand that without the website, Whiskers Syndicate will no longer exist to give hope to as much as 750,000 (and most likely more) stray animals (dog, cats, birds, macaque monkey, etc) who count on their survival in a tiny packets of food dropped on the street which they can drag to a safe place to eat.

I can guarantee you that beyond the borders of Google’s Blogspot, the price is going to be swollen because we have to pay for our own hosting, and typing our own code. But once again, I refuse to just sit and weep, and for this resolution I am given two wonderful sisters and friends: Lori And Ekeim, and as I scramble to move the entire website to a new place only within one week, I will count on them to speak on behalf of the abused and neglected animals who fend themselves on unforgiving Bandung streets.

Can they count on you as well? Only you can answer.

Yesterday Once More

Just because cats are known to be low maintenance, it doesn’t mean that their life is as cheap; but in this breeder capital of Indonesia, where people see all living being (human included, of course) as source of free money, I don’t think anyone care.

And then, there’s that outdated, idiotic misconception that doing business should “use as less to no resources as possible, to gain as much profit as possible”

So in every corner of slums in this metropolitanpuritan city, you will see cats living in rabbit cage, with plain rice and water, or a pinch of Friskies, and a  plate of sand to discharge, spending their life. Their only chance of going out of that box is when they are about to meet their mate, or if their breeder got enough of him/her and find someone else stupid enough to believe in the effortless profit maker myth and buy the overly bred cat.

What if the cat is sick? Go back to the equation. If the amount of resources needed to rear the “asset” is the same or higher than its price, throw it away on the street.

Chances are, someone will pick it up, or at least you will never see it again. Out of sight, out of mind. Life goes on.

But if you happen to bring your asset cat to meet the vet, thinking that it will cost you a little, but ended up have to pay more?

Cheat. Plain and simple.

It’s so happened last month. A homemade breeder bring his cat to the vet clinic, complaining that his cat does not pee for quite some time and is being a nuisance. The vet gave the cat a look, and tell the owner that he got UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), most probably caused by bad quality feed. The vets put catheter into the cat, prescribe the medicine, and urge the owner to change the feed into better quality food, if they cannot afford the best. As a value adding service, the vet give his cat a free, self-made elizabeth collar to match his cat, so that it will not pull the catheter out.

Looking heart broken, the owner said that he feels so sorry for his cat, and ask if the vet can hold on for a moment because he wants to borrow a car from his relative, so that the cat will be more comfortable with all his new wardrobe and accessories on his way home.

You guess? The owner never return.

That way he doesn’t have to pay any money for any service right?.

So, similar with his old days, this cat – dubbed BooBoo by the vets – spends his life in a cage, with Elizabeth collar that bump everywhere he move, and a catheter that irk his rear most of the time.

Yet he doesn’t complain. For a cat that was bred for profit, he probably learn that life at its best is sitting nicely inside of a barred box waiting to be mated.

Life is a little bit better for BooBoo, when under the care of not only one, but three vets who all love cat, his UTI cleared out and he is off his bumpy collar and irksome catheter. However, since the clinic doesn’t have boarding, and it’s uber busy from morning to late night, he still got to live his life in the cage and go out only for one or two hours a day when the patients are all gone and the vets take some break to have supper before they all go home, and BooBoo has to go back to his jail.bubucagecleaning

BooBoo’s right eye was swollen when he got a fight back from the clinic resident cat, and he was sulking in his sand box the whole day.

With all sort of patients going back and forth everyday the whole day, it is only a matter of time before he got stressed and start clawing everyone around, especially the two resident cats who shares the same house.

To that point, BooBoo’s only part in my life is when I lost Mama Cat. One of the vets who knows what is going on was trying to soothe us by telling his story, and I got to pet his head once or twice for self-consolation.

He replied my sorrowful vibes with his copper eyes, looking at me with such a curious glint; a spark of liveliness that told me that he is more than a doll-like cat who likes to sit and watch life goes by.

Still, until yesterday we hope that his owner didn’t really mean to abandon him and will return with whatever reason to take him back. Even if he told us flat that he got no money at that time we would still understand and the vets won’t charge anything more than the cost of the initial treatment.

Besides, it’s beyond reason that someone would rather abandon his cat for only a minor infection that cleared out within a week. Can’t he just make sure that the cat’s UTI is incurable before dumping it just like that?

After one month had passed and a few weeks more in waiting, however, we can no longer deny that whisper in our heart that BooBoo is indeed, dumped away.

What is in a name? a rose by any other name will be as sweet. Certainly, Shakespeare, what’s in a name? in late 2011 I pull out a purebred silpoint Persian named Boo who was abandoned in another clinic, and now we have a Persian mix named BooBoo with similar fate?

The vets has two choice: give him to the friend of the silly seaweed chip volunteer, or have someone else (meaning whoever) adopted him by putting an ad in facebook.

Both options gave me goosebumps, so I step forward and give them the third choice: I will pay all his charges and pull him out.

It’s (again) a stupid idea. My house is full and the fund raising seems to be rather stuck these days. I also have Martha who currently need the most medical attention, but here I am gambling my luck away and pull a cat out.

I seems to lose a lot of intelligence lately, but honestly, I just can’t stand by and have those coppery glint of liveliness goes into yet another home to get into yet another cage.

The rest is the same old story, I took several more freelance job, and bring my carrier to the vet’s clinic and pay.

The vets waive the catheter, the UTI medicine and the food they spend on BooBoo, but I got to pay for his vaccine and neutering; and half a million Rupiah moved from my ATM to their drawer, and I went home with a new cat to care for.

BooBoo still got to stay in a cage, but only for one night. The next morning I was kind of expecting a little fuss because he doesn’t want to go out of the cage in the clinic, but he voluntarily jumped out of the cage as soon as I open the door.

bubu arrive

Since the vets told me he will try to fight with other cats, I watch him like a hawk when he meets the other cats, but to my surprise, he just sniff them up a little bit, turn around continue exploring.

It’s not a surprise that The Whiskers’ Syndicate no longer care about bullying new cat because there are so many come and go in their lifetime.

Unlike Abba Tealca who fight his way with almost every one in the Syndicate,  BooBoo arrived with no incident at all. He just lay down and doze off like my house is his all along, and blend in effortlessly. Perhaps because he used to be a house cat, so a household environment is more familiar (thus less stressful or agitating) for him, but I can’t talk to him, and I’d freak out if he talk to me, so I just shrug and have him do it his own way.

Since I already have a cat named Boo, I have to change his name to avoid confusion. Besides, the “original” Boo is already irritated when I called out “Boo” and he comes over only to find out I was talking with the other.

That said, why not have an early trick or treat? Help me find a good (new) name for this handsome boy and win this bag:


Courtesy of Whiscraft, this bag is made of patchwork of cotton fabric featuring fresh flower and a smiling cat. It is 26 centimeter (10.2 inches) wide, 18 centimeter (7 inches) tall, and 8 centimeter (3.1 inches) in depth. Patches may vary depending on available coordinating colours.

Here is how to join the naming game:

1. Make a single USD 5 donation through our Pitch In Box on the top right of the website page, and enter your suggested name in the “message” box.

2. Ask your friend and family to vote for you!

Here is how to vote:

1. Make a single USD 3 donation to our Pitch In on the top right of the page. If you donate USD 9, you have 3 votes!

2. Enter your voted name in the “message” box.

3. Ask your friends and family to join!

Names with most vote got the bag!

Aw, no prize for the voter?

Whoever vote the most get this:

porcupine pouch

Also courtesy of Whiscraft, this cute porcupine pouch is made of patchwork cotton. It is 13 centimeter (5.1 inches) wide and 10 centimeter (3.9 inches) tall.

All name entry will be displayed on our facebook page, our Google + page and on a box right here under the post.

The party ends on Monday, September 23, 2012. So don’t miss it!

Name entry up to  Sept 17, 2013:
1. Teddy
2. Bear
3. Teddy Bear
4. Menanggung

Additional name entry Sept 18, 2013:

5. Baron (because he looks majestic)
6. Cooper (from Copper eyes)
7. Dante (writer of the infamous “Inferno”. Inferno is due to the coat colour of the cat)
8. Oscar (of “Oscar Madison” in the motion picture “The Odd Couple”).
There are also entries of other Oscar of “Oscar Wilde” and “Oscar the cat” so the name “Oscar” now has 3 votes, which put this name ahead of the other.

Entry Update Sept 19, 2013:

5. Baron + 4 votes
6. Cooper + 4 votes
8. Oscar + 3 votes
9. Caesar (because the cat look awesome)
10. Sebastian +15 votes

Sebastian is now a leading name choice.

It seems like the naming game escalates into a vote racing game. Everyone is busy campaigning! So, for you who hasn’t join yet, get on your running shoes before you miss the fun.

Here is the name entry list up to Sept 20, 2013:

1. Teddy
2. Bear
3. Teddy Bear + 5 votes
4. Menanggung
5. Baron + 4 votes
6. Cooper + 4 votes
7. Dante
8. Oscar + 3 votes
9. Caesar
10. Sebastian +15 votes
11. Handsome Boy +6 votes

“Sebastian” is still leading with 15 votes. Any challenger?

Entry update up to Sept 21, 2013:

1. Teddy
2. Bear
3. Teddy Bear + 5 votes
4. Menanggung
5. Baron + 4 votes
6. Cooper + 4 votes
7. Dante
8. Oscar + 7 votes
9. Caesar
10. Sebastian +15 votes
11. Handsome Boy +6 votes

It’s getting hotter here.

You can vote for one (or more) of the name above or submit your own up to Sept 23, 2013. Don’t miss it!

Entry update up to Sept 22, 2013:

1. Teddy
2. Bear
3. Teddy Bear + 5 votes
4. Menanggung
5. Baron + 4 votes
6. Cooper + 4 votes
7. Dante
8. Oscar + 7 votes
9. Caesar
10. Sebastian +15 votes
11. Handsome Boy +6 votes

12. Grayson +1 votes

One more day to go. Make sure your name entry wins by inviting your friends and family to vote for you!.

On the last day of the game, here is the final entry

1. Teddy
2. Bear
3. Teddy Bear + 5 votes
4. Menanggung
5. Baron +4 votes
6. Cooper +4 votes
7. Dante
8. Oscar + 7 votes
9. Caesar
10. Sebastian +15 votes
11. Handsome Boy +6 votes
12. Grayson + 2 votes

According to the tally here is the position:

1. Sebastian (15)
2. Oscar (7)
3. Handsome Boy (6)
4. Teddy Bear (5)
6. Baron and Cooper (4)
7. Grayson (2)
8. Teddy, Bear, Menanggung, Dante, Caesar on the last places.

There are still a few hours left if you would like to vote or submit your own entry. May the best name win!

Dr. Jekyll, Ms. Hyde

Simply put, I screwed up, and worse than anything else, I drag one of my precious rescue with me.

At least, it is what I feel about Martha.

A few weeks ago I brought two kittens: Chicco and Mio for a check up at the vet clinic, only to be tangled in one of their very many emergency. It’s an old, new story: I open one of the empty cages, throw Chicco and Mio inside, and get my hand dirty.

I peeked on the two kittens from time to time, and they seems to mind their own business. They eat the food inside the cage,they went into a small box inside the cage and roll all over, and they pat each other’s cheek; so in a glimpse I knew they were OK and I too, go back to my own business.

When it’s finally my turn, I just go back to the cage and found out that Chicco and Mio were not alone. They were poking around with a tiny Tortoiseshell kitten, who is so small she was drowned inside the small box there.

“Hey, where’s this Tortie came from?”

Stupid question. Since no one went near the cage, it suppose to be logical to think that the tiny kitty was there to begin with and I overlook her when I just throw my two kittens inside.

One of the vet came closer and tell me story about how the janitor found a small kitten inside a box right under the door the morning before. The janitor had thought someone was throwing away a box full of newspaper shreds and was about to throw it away to the fire, when he found out hat there’s a small cat in there giving him eyeballs.

OK, so I am not the only one who missed the catling.

The story became interesting when the vet continue with “She comes with a love letter”

I raise one of the tips of my lips.

The vet continue and said that the love letter was attached to the kitten, and demands that the kitten be well cared for and given good food.

I scratched my head. Whoever throw the kitten must have been a fan of Moses, though fortunately they are smart enough not to have the box drifted in the river, or being thrown away from speeding car.

The end of the story is, when we are done with Chicco and Mio, the ever eyeball-ing (I swear her eyes are huge, and she can stare at you forever) tortie-la chip came home with me.

Or rather Godzilla, if only I knew.

I call her Martha (from “Martopo Veterinary Clinic”) and she came with a quirk: she has very short attention span.

And what I mean “very short” is very short. VERY short. She was a bottle kitten but when I tried to feed her with syringe, she will jerk away and claw my hand after a few drops, running in circle around the living room, and come back to me 10 laps later. Another few drops and she dashed into the kitchen, crashed onto one of the cabinets, and came back to me scrambling to cope with her dizziness (I guessed)

Honestly I thought she was just showing off her Tortie-tude, and that includes when she cross the speed limit, dove into her milk bowl head first and ended up looking like a Santa Clauws.

martha milk

I thought it’s her way of saying she had enough, but she chased me with a lot of grumble when I took her bowl to the sink.

martha milk walk

Then her cute antics become annoying. Sometimes she is as sweet as caramel and sugar (look at her colour!) a second later she is as fiery as hell flame (again, look at her colour). We were having fun giving her milk and all of a sudden she will bite my hand and claw it to shreds., then go away and amuse herself with toys. When I was bewildered at what I might do wrong she will come to me and give me head bonks and purring “I love you” out loud.

One time she walks around leisurely like Pretty Woman and all of a sudden she will growl and lunged at a sleeping cat (who of course, either run away in fear or growl back and give her some beating)

At another time she allow me to pick her up and cradle her in my arms, and a few minutes later she suddenly bite me very hard and jump off my arms though she lands on the floor belly first. Then she will do her usual laps and won’t stop until she crashes onto some wall.

As days passed Martha grow away from a cute kitty to a diabolic annoying kitten. She continue to shift from her light, sweet personality, to her dark, diabolic personality more often, as if she is truly living out Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the cat way.

I won’t join the two face game and herewith made a public statement that I lost my patience handling Martha, especially when she ask for food and when I give her some, plunge into the bowl, step all over it, dash somewhere else and leave the floor dirty. I tried to be patient and think that she might want some other food, so I gave her her favourite Fancy Feast only to see her lick once or twice, bite a teeeny tiny bit, kick the bowl upside down and hide under the fridge as I practice my anger management techniques.

And the more I angry, the more she acted up. My love for her dissipates in a speed of light as my hatred blew up like Hiroshima.

No matter how angry I am, however, when the night come, she always darts into my room and keep herself busy destroying it as I work, stopping only when I either lost my mind or too exhausted to care for whatever she wrecked and flop onto the bed.

Then she will creep under the blanket and sleep beside me, sometimes on top of me. Even at certain days when I completely ignore her, or put her down on the mat to sleep alone, she will climb back onto the bed and find her true love in my stomach.

On certain days, however, I succumbed to my curiosity and snap some pictures to find out how a sleeping cat with tortie-tude will look like.

      Can I be angry to something that looks like this?

Watching her sleep quench the fire inside me. A storm by day, Martha is just an ordinary, cuteness overdose kitten when she sleeps.

The only thing I can genuinely appreciate about Martha is that she is a fast learner. She weans herself off KMR early, and she even show the right way to do it by pushing an older, bigger cat off its bowl and take over all the kibbles.

Still, I should have known at that time that something is wrong with this kid, but that time, my attention was taken by Mama Cat and later on, Bobtail.

My journey with Mama Cat alone drains me, even for days after she passed away. The long fight that I have put up for her for the whole week leave me with nothing left in my mind but tears. I know I need to dust myself up and continue walking. I prayed for all my friends who lost a pet that week that they be given strength to move forward. It’s just embarrassing that I myself was unable to pick myself up and move forward, although I pray for it.

During that time Bobtail was still delicate. He had a bad self concept and literally lost his trust to human due to his experience, so I try to be as calm and steady as possible not to resonate bad vibes that might make him more anxious.

The whole week when I was busy with Mama Cat and Bobtail, Martha is completely forsaken. I just let her destroy anything she likes and when I need to go to the clinic, I’ll just leave her with a bowl of Fancy Feast, heck if she wants to eat it or mess with it. I am often too tired and stirred up (emotionally) when I arrive home from the clinic down town so no matter how savage Martha became toward me, I just brush her off and put her on autopilot.

She is back to my attention when I heard her breath grunting like a pig. Martha caught cold, and unless I move faster than her dashes, we’re going to have that nasty endemic bacteria again.

So I went back down town with her and while I met the vet, I give her the payment for Mama Cat. The fund raiser missed the target by USD 90, but I have to pay none the less, so I gave what I have.

The vets refused the money.

Because the surgery is not completed they decided to waive the fee, so I only need to pay for Bobtail. They also told me that they know I was trying to safe a street cat, and as fellow cat lovers it is their way to share the load.

When I wait for Martha finishing her nebulizer at the clinic, I praise the Lord that what came at first as a lack of fund, now become a surplus.

I was wondering what I should do with all the money we raise, and with careful consideration and advice from the vets, I decided to use the spare money to buy a nebulizer.

Tissor side
Our new nebulizer.

A nebulizer (or nebuliser) is a drug delivery device used to administer medication in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs. Though it has been used widely by veterinarian and pet parents in the more advanced part of the world, it is only recently that the inhalation treatment been introduced to Indonesia to help cats with respiratory troubles who otherwise can only rely on conventional pills and injection (that adds the misery to the suffocating animal). With thorough training and information, a nebulizer is a quick and safe solution to nasal blockage. There will be another monsoon (that sent us back to rainy season) in October, and the street cats natural genocide will start over again. A nebulizer will help me safe the life of more cats in less time, or in severe cases will help me buy some time until I can go all the way down town to get vet service.

At that time Martha already lose a lot of weight. She has not been eating properly (and instead mess her food no matter what I put inside). It doesn’t help that she has nasal blockage so she cannot smell her food, which in turn make her stop eating. She was dehydrated and her outlook is not looking any better.

I know what will come if I keep my autopilot. I am still burned out and it takes time until I am back fighting again, but Martha’s life depending on correct timing, so I re-ignites my engine. Every morning I give Martha her sub-q fluid, and in the afternoon, 20 minutes of Nebulizer.  At that time I can’t be more glad that we now have a nebulizer, that hopefully will help her calm down and handles her nasal blockage, courtesy of the donations from our supporters.

Unfortunately, her switching personality made it difficult to feed her with syringe. Martha can jump onto my face any second, and it can be fatal if she decided to do it with the syringe in her mouth. The sub-q is just as testing. She can’t stay put long enough that the both of us take turn to bleed because she pounced endlessly as I tried to insert the needle.

Then the riot ensues when it’s time for her nebulizer. I know it’s impossible to hold her and made her breathe through a mask, so I put her in a crate, wrap the crate in linen, pluck the mouthpiece into the crate and turn it on. I hope the darkness will help her calm down, but instead she yells and trash around like crazy. The more I tried to calm her down, the more mad she become.

It was then when I stumble upon a paediatric forum that said that it is all right if babies cry or move around when they have nasal blockage (as long as they are under supervision) because the more they cry, the more they move, the more they breathe.

So the next day I lined the inside of the crate with towel, brace myself, put Martha inside, cover the crate with linen, and turn on the nebulizer for twenty minutes. It feels like forever. Like I predict she trashes around and yelling until her voice sore, but I am less worried because the towel inside will prevent her from getting hurt. I keep calling her name and ask her to calm down, but I am less panic because I know all those chaos inside that crate means she breathe a lot. 

On the day she is on a good personality, she stays calm and quiet inside the crate and the nebulizer session was less stressful, but I found out later that she is quiet because she chew the mouthpiece all the way.

Well, at least that will also mean she breathe her medicine straight from the source, and the chewing gave me a great insight of her actual mental condition. Now I know that Martha is not crazy. She just freaked out.

Martha is always exhausted when she came out of the crate, due to all the rioting, but her nose is very pink, and she breathe normally (which means the medication is working). Taking that chance, I usually give her a strong smelled food, and she starts eating, though still while running around.

One day I wondered out loud, asking her what is so good about eating while running, and I see it in her eyes that she is as disturbed as I do, having to do that. I came to realize that something might be wrong with her nerves and she probably doesn’t have control over what she is doing. 

But we do not have an animal psychologist here, and the vets doesn’t have any experience with it either, so we are on our own.

Putting what I learn during my four years in university, I talk to her whenever she is inside the nebulizer crate. I read the journals aloud or humming cheerful songs so she knows that I am around and am not angry, and it made her calmer.

It really kill me reading that almost all of the articles and journals that I read recommend euthanasia as a humane solution to save the cat from her “suffering”. Here I am trying to drag myself to continue living while coping with the loss of Mama Cat, and all those expert told me to kill another cat because she is annoying. While Martha is clearly neurotic she doesn’t seems to suffer. Martha is disturbed by herself, but she doesn’t lost her mind completely. If Martha really lost herself, she wouldn’t be creeping into my blanket and sleeo on my tummy. If Martha is insane she will not know that I am angry about the food she spoiled and hide under the fridge.

All those means to me that Martha is still sane and therefore, she deserved her birth right to be happy, to be safe, to be full, and grow old and have fun. Martha believes in me, so now it’s my turn to return her faith.

Besides, I don’t think God put her in my path to be euthanized. 

Now that I have better knowledge on what might be going on inside her small head, I can plan better. 

Whenever Martha is in the nebulizer, I talk to her about my hopes. I told her that I don’t mind keeping her as she is, and I make sure I tell her that I love her, over and over and over. I know that Martha cannot speak human language, but I know she can understand me. 

When it’s meal time, I get her into the same crate with her food, put the crate her in the middle of the other cats and stand by her side. At first she came trashing around again and have her food all over her, but after three days, she will eat calmly without diving into her bowl or dancing all over it. I can’t put her in the crate when I give her fluid, so I just put her on the table and tell her over and over that she is loved, she is wanted, and she is a great girl when she is calm and sitting quietly like now. She is still fidgety, and she pounced on me from time to time, but after three days now, she is less anxious and stay still longer.

Martha is still young. She is only four months old and have a long way to go. I am not sure if she will stop being neurotic, and if she is not, it is going to be a great challenge for the both of us. There will be, inevitably, times when we think we will ended it right there, there will be times when we yelled our lungs out and pull our hair to the root, but even so, I decided to embrace Martha as she is and join her in her rocky road to life. She might be born with a demon inside, but as much as she believes in my good side, I am going to believe in her good side.

Until the day we both beat our demons.

And all of this, all of this intriguing adventure, started with a donation that everyone help us get. I wish this story can convince all of you that in the lonely planet of Whiskers’ Syndicate, a little goes big way.

martha capuchon

In an ongoing effort to overcome my grief over the loss of Mama Cat, I forced myself to write another story, in the hope I can shift my focus into what currently need my attention. However, although  am finally able to finish it, I an not satisfied with the result. I feel like a different person,  and therefore, feel compelled to revise this post as best as I can.

I tried re-writing this post three times already, and they all feel foreign to me. Then I remember the advice of a friend that it is all right to have a different, personal writing style that differs from “professional blogger” and that it is all right if I put my raw feelings/emotions into my writing because it is the real, honest me (Thank you StellChen!)

Although this post has been completely re-arranged, all the same fact remains the same. There are more details, more feelings, more emotion, and of course, more me. I hope that’s all right.

The Road To Santiago

Almost a week had passed since I first took Mama Cat and Bobtail to the vet. It was an arduous day. I arrived very early at the clinic because as the only clinic in town that has more or less good equipment (though old), it is always full with patients, sometimes from surrounding small towns; people who wake up and start driving since dawn only to get their pets to the vet on time. It’s no question that some of those pets died on their way, or on their last breath when they arrive to the clinic.

The first reaction of the newest vet there was “Oh, Mama, you are ready to deliver?” but as I explain my concerns she started touching Mama’s tummy and her facial expression changes. “No babies”, she said, “Only bumps, a lot of them. You’d better get her an X Ray as soon as possible because they closes at noon”

It was 10 am.

So I brief her about Bobtail, and as soon as she started with the litany of parasites names, she cut it short and tell me to go.

So I rushed back to the road with Mama Cat in her basket, drive 2 hours across the terrible traffic, registered, wait 20 minutes, go back to the cursed traffic, and back to the clinic at 2 pm. By that time, the other (more senior) vet already arrive at the clinic and looking at my face (they know me well enough), one of them walk straight to the cupboard and took all her surgery equipments, while I show her the actual X Ray.

She just shakes her head.

The vet clinic doesn’t have a light box, so we see the X Ray by holding it against the sun. To upload it here I use my laptop monitor as the backlight and take a picture with my camera, so it’s not clear, but I hope you can see round balls that lined up all the way to the chest cavity. The white big blob on both X Ray is the cancer. I am sure you know where the ribs are.

While waiting for the equipments to be properly sterilized, we have another emergency. A big Persian cat named “Bruce Willis” was taken back to the vet because he got urine blocking (twice already), the vets has to insert a catheter and since they have to helping hand, two of the vets dropped everything and  trying to hold Bruce with the help of a new volunteer, the only one I see after a year.

In a glimpse from next door, I know it’s not right. The new volunteer was more busy with her position and the way her hair fall down than the cat. However, before I slip back to Mama Cat’s side I hear my name called and go to the next room to watch the huge Bruce retaliate, is angry and bite whatever that comes across his face. The new volunteer was busy rubbing her arm and show it to everyone, including Bruce’s parents, say “He scratched me, aw” over and over and burst to another room showing it off to other patients and other vet.

The two senior vets looked at me, peeked at Bruce’s rear (that’s bleeding) retracted the damaged catheter and get new one. Then she gave me a syringe, a bottle of Aqua Bidest and say “spray”

Two minutes. Bruce was back on Cathether, and peed a full bowl. No scratch, No bite, everybody happy, including Bruce.

I took a mental note to be careful when the new volunteer ever tried to handle Mama.

After Bruce is gone, It’s Mama’s turn. She has been calm and relaxed on the surgery table, that she doesn’t even care the vet shaves one of her arm to insert an intravenous fluid. That’s when the new volunteer comes into the room, put her laptop bag on the surgery table, pull out a pack of sea weed chips and eat there while boasting about how great the taste is and offer everyone for a try.

Without words, I moved her stuffs to the other table, including her seaweed. She didn’t care and continue yapping and as she much off her seaweed, asking the vet what’s going on, to which the vet said Mama had cancer and will be operated immediately.

She said “Oh”, put her seaweed down, rub her hand onto her back, grab Mama’s two front legs, and push them against the table with all her weight.

“Ok, she’s ready” the volunteer chirps.

Mama gave a loud cry and started to trashed all over trying to break free. Mama cat, the calmest, most graceful feral cat I have ever met, is becoming a wild animal.

One of the vet said, “The legs are swollen”

It’s just a few seconds. I push her aside and stand between her and Mama with my eyes straight into hers. I tried as hard as I can not to open my mouth because I know whatever is going to come out of it will not be good to hear. I just hope she is smart enough to realize what my gesture means.

She rushes out remorseless after the other vet give her eyeballs.

Because of the swollen legs we have to shave the back legs, but with the recent experience Mama lost trust on us, again trashing around and so we have to wait another day.

Her belly was already so tight that day. We were afraid that one of the balls inside her tummy burst and spill infection fluid everywhere, but we have to wait.

During my recess, I wondered if Mama is ever going to be all right again, and remember The Road To Santiago.

Road To Santiago is a legendary pilgrimage route taken by European Catholics since Medieval Age. Pilgrims started from the doorstep of their home and walk more or less 700 km through various choices of route to arrive to the church of Santiago De Compostela in Northern Spain. (Santiago is Spanish version of St. James, Jacques in French)

In the Codex_Calixtinus, Pope Callixtus II, wrote about the road: 

The pilgrim route is a very good thing, but it is narrow. For the road which leads us to life is narrow; on the other hand, the road which leads to death is broad and spacious. The pilgrim route is for those who are good: it is the lack of vices, the thwarting of the body, the increase of virtues, pardon for sins, sorrow for the penitent, the road of the righteous, love of the saints, faith in the resurrection and the reward of the blessed, a separation from hell, the protection of the heavens. It takes us away from luscious foods, it makes gluttonous fatness vanish, it restrains voluptuousness, constrains the appetites of the flesh which attack the fortress of the soul, cleanses the spirit, leads us to contemplation, humbles the haughty, raises up the lowly, loves poverty. It hates the reproach of those fuelled by greed. It loves, on the other hand, the person who gives to the poor. It rewards those who live simply and do good works; And, on the other hand, it does not pluck those who are stingy and wicked from the claws of sin.

I don’t believe in coincidence, but I do not want to believe it’s a premonition.

On the second day, a friend send me a message over facebook:

…believe me when I say I haven’t been an animal lover and rescuer/advocate since I was a kid w/o having had gone through this to many times to count, and while it never gets easier, as you get older you tend to know the right answer, for yourself anyway, a lot sooner than when you were young

On the third day, another friend wrote me a message, also over facebook:

Oh my, her cancer condition is extremely bad. It takes a miracle for her to be cancer free. The best thing you can do is to provide the best care to her and allow her to enjoy her remaining time. Especially make her feel loved every moment. That’s what I would do. Thanks for helping them.

During the tenure of that 3 days Mama Cat start slipping out and medication start to stop working, gradually. Her chest started to be filled with water. She shed a lot, and eat only a little. Looking back at those days, I should have known. Yet I choose to run away and continue my denials.

Besides, Mama Cat is finally ready. She is as calm and relaxed as she used to be, and we sedate her without any incident.

When the vet was about to put down that scalpel on her, however, she breathed deeply. Jerks for a second, took one more deep breath,

slipped the surly bonds of Earth

–and touched the Face of God

None of us in the room said anything. The vet was petrified with her scalpel still in mid air. I was gripping on the IV fluid’s staff as I gaze on the fluid that was still dripping.

I don’t know who was the first between us to jump back to reality, but whatever we did after that was surreal. Taking off oxygen mask, turning off the anaesthesia, pulling off IV. And then my vet dropped everything, go to the corner of the room and pray. I saw her trying very hard to keep her tears from flowing out.

I took Mama Cat to my arm and lay her down on my chest, still hoping that she is asleep. And then a friend of the volunteer who she brought along came inside and commented

“What a peaceful sleep”

She took my cell phone from my hand, took a picture, and gave it to me so I can see how she looks.

I didn’t even realize until now that I was still holding the IV staff then.

A narrow road to life, indeed, but it’s the road of the righteous, love of the saints, faith in the resurrection and the reward of the blessed, a separation from hell, the protection of the heavens.

It was already late when I arrived back home with Mama Cat’s ashes. The night sky was light by the big full moon, right on top of the cattery, perhaps lighting the way for her to cross the rainbow bridge.

The cats are lining up at the background, watching the ashes flown off

I put her ashes there, in the middle of the backyard and have the wind carry her everywhere, as far as where she once roam the streets of the mountain side, and to cover the entire backyard where she will always belongs.

When I came into the house, Bobtail was on top of the refrigerator. He has been hiding at the side of the fridge all the time since he went home. He still tiptoes wherever he goes, to his food bowl, or to drink, or to the bathroom, afraid; but staying in one place and not moving a lot helps his paws heal faster. His stubby tail is still bald, and all the wounds that start to crust made him very ugly, but with that charred paw he taps on my cheek, when I approach him, and then he pushed his head onto me.

It was that push that blow the dam I build so high to keep my tears inside.

Like Mama Cat, his path to life is narrow, though of different route and it’s going to be a very long time to heal the depth of his heart. I cannot stop apologizing to him for letting him go to a wrong house, but I also never stop praising him for running away (?) and take his pilgrimage, on foot, few hundreds meters away, to find himself back home.

On my cellphone tonight, there’s yet another message:

We laid him in a cool and shadowed grove

One evening in the dreamy scent of thyme

Where leaves were green, and whispered high above —

A grave as humble as it was sublime;

There, dreaming in the fading deeps of light —

The hands that thrilled to touch a woman’s hair;

Brown eyes, that loved the Day, and looked on Night,

A soul that found at last its answered Prayer…

There daylight, as a dust, slips through the trees.

And drifting, gilds the fern around his grave —

Where even now, perhaps, the evening breeze

Steals shyly past the tomb of him who gave

New sight to blinded eyes; who sometimes wept —

A short time dearly loved; and after, — slept.”

It’s a poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr., an aviator poet in World War II. He fly for Royal Canadian Air Force, and his poem: High Flight, part of which I quoted on this post, is officially used by Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, and United States Air Force Academy.  A choice made to bow respect to all of Mama Cat and Bobtail’s supporters who come from USA, Canada, Australia and Netherlands.