Strangers In The Night

for our friend Susie Bunn: here goes your lucky number!

Today is a full moon; and unlike any other day, the sky is clear, so I can see the round moon clearly as it peeks from behind the wisp of the wild bamboo bushes across the street. At times, wind are playing with the young tips, lifting it up and down that the moon looks like it is a bright lantern hanging is an ancient oriental gardens.

I wouldn’t have been able to see such scenic rarity from my boarding house, or rented space in the city. It will be full with passing vehicle and their noises, the punks who gone out in hordes to try and get money from passer by with their generic line “rather than we rob you, it is better that we beg money from you in exchange to our singing…(then they continue to yell unharmonious melodies and gibberish lyrics)”

But then maybe I was wrong. Maybe the beauty of a full moon on a clear sky is not good enough, because the other houses were all closed. It’s 9 pm so probably people are getting ready to sleep, or is enjoying cable TV that recently taken the trend in “home entertainment”

In contrary, I have just got home from my work.

As the result of my panic for dwindling finances, I took a coming job offer in panic; and though I am grateful that the process lead me to a memorable rescue, the job itself is not that much fun.

In normal situation, my new workplace is only 45 minutes ride. However, it is an industrial area in a remote part of Bandung, a newly developed area where there’s no decent road, far away from everything, and has only one road leading and out of there, unless you want to go round the town using highway.

Needless to say it’s always jammed, especially in Monday morning, and in any given moment where huge trucks try to make a turn; even when there are only few more trucks than usual. The traffic is so bad that once you trapped in it, it will take at least two hours to get to my workplace instead of fourty five minutes. And I have been using public transport too… There’s only one kind of public transport from my area to my workplace, and keeping in mind that Indonesia is a third world country, I guess I have no choice.

So, worse than my previous job, I have to leave the house at 6 am in the morning so I can reach the factory at 8 am, when it start, and although I leave at 5 pm – as soon as the working hour ends – since everyone else is doing the same, I’d reach my house no earlier than 8 pm. When I have to make a stop to buy cat food or medicine, it will be like today, 9 pm, sometimes 9:30. No going round for the stray, no leaving food and boxes and blankets for the ferals, no street cat business until the weekend.

But that’s not what bugging me, at least tonight.

It’s that cat’s mew I have been hearing coming and going from across the street.

I peeked out of my window once again. Nothing. In fact, I have been going back and forth checking the road and its surrounding gutters looking for abandoned kitten, but I can’t find anything. The desperate mews stopped as soon as I step onto the road side.

An old man that has been standing there, watching the moon from the street side since I went home, is getting curious. He started asking me what I am looking for, but I didn’t answer him except with a courtesy smile.

I am almost certain where the questions lead to: nowhere. People in Bandung, especially in a semi rural areas like here doesn’t care about animals. They care about money, and booze, and sex. Especially sex. A street gang named “Exalt To Coitus” is very famous here. Most of the time when I go out at night to tend the cats people, especially young males, will ask me question where I was heading, what I am doing or the like, and when they learn that I actually take care of street cat instead of just ignore me they took the time to harass me, and some times gone as far as trying to touch me, which is the reason I got into so many street fights in my short span of rescue life. I come to learn that this city is Sodom or Gomorrah, or maybe both in one. I lose my trust in fellow countrymen, especially male, and I come to learn – in a very hard way – to be as hard as a clamp.

So the old man ask me again, what I am trying to do, going back and forth from the house to the street and back again, and I smile again, when that desperate mew re-started, straight from my back.

I turn back all at once, running to its direction. It’s from the gutter below, but when I run there with my flash light on I can’t find anything. I heard the mew moving to across the street, from the direction of the Bamboo bushes, so I too cross the street. That voice enough convinced me that the owner of the mew is panicking.

A few meters above (the road that lead to my house climbed up) I heard a motorcycle screeching its brake and its rider got busy hush-hushing.

That must be it. I run back up, trying to defeat 45 degrees road with a pair of rubber sandals. Part of my heart was grateful for the urban legend. Some story that said that if you ran over a cat on the road, and do not treat them as you would treat human, you will die as miserably as the cat, on the road.

But urban legend fade, and I have come to see so many many cats, especially kittens, ran over by vehicle on the road and left there, flattened on the road.

As I passed him that old man said “Are you looking for a cat”

I just turn my head to him for a second and nod. There’s his answer. So now be quiet and let me do my job.

I saw it. A silhouette of a thin, black kitten with roused up hair trying to cross the street in panic. It went back, and forth, and criss cross in the middle of the street, trying to avoid coming motorcycles while losing its way somewhere in between, resulting him running around in a messy circle in the middle of a rather crowded road. It’s around 5 to 10 meters from my house, and if only the road leading there wasn’t so steep I’d be able to grab it sooner.

Then the same panic strike me. Sooner than later someone is going to run over that cat because it’s difficult to spot a fidgety black kitten on a dark asphalt in a dark night, no matter how big the full moon above. So I ran straight, in the middle of the road, adjusting my direction as the kitten jumps here and there trying to keep both of us in a straight line as much as possible. If the riders can’t see the kitten they can always see that there’s a crazy woman running like crazy in the middle of the road so they can at least turn to the side. Heck with the swearing as they pass me.

When my stretched hand just about to get to the poor thing, a motorbike is honking like crazy instead of avoiding me, ten inches from my nose.

“Cat! Cat! move to the side!” I yelled, pointing at the now freezing kitten.

The riders, two males, run straight over it, with a loud, bitter, sneering laugh.

And I saw the kitten rolled behind the front wheel after being ran over, and after that, got run over by the rear wheel a few seconds later.

Then it flew away with a hustling sound when it hits the bamboo bushes.

All the while, their laugh continues.

I don’t try to stop the motorcycle, I don’t even try to get their license. What would I do with a liscense? go to the police? I’ll make a good laugh for those corrupt officers. So I turn over to the bamboo bushes and start looking.

“You crazy bastards! You’ll die on the street!I hope miserably!” I think that’s the voice of the old man, but I don’t care.

“Go further up, young woman”, I heard him again from across, behind me. “Go further up”

My mind was so messy I can only half digest what he was trying to say while the rest of my limbs works like a zombie.

It’s getting easier for my brain to freeze lately. I know it comes from the exhaustion with my day job, but I can’t turn back now. I tried to hit the brake, slow down a little, but I still have to move on, so I choose to put my stress aside and keep moving. I know the drill.

I can hear the meow; hurt and lost. One, two, weakly, but the kitten is alive. I start to call out, as gently as I can, though I doubt my voice is friendly enough in all its trembles and vibrates “Baby kitty, baby kitty…”

The kitten answers, but I cannot find him. The bamboo bushes is just too thick for my flash light to go through, much less the moon. I have to climb a small cliff knee high to get to the bushes, but the rain the day before made the soil slippery. Both my had already muddy, sweeping the ground, while the old man’s voice still trying to encourage me to go inside the bushes.

I was out of breath, half an hour later, and my mind refused to listen. Then I mumble, in autopilot “Lord, what shall I do? My brain is freezing. Lead me the way. What shall I do?”

And then some hand touched my shoulder and ask carefully “What are you looking for?”

I snapped around, and my wild eyes find a young man looking at me curiously. He uses dark shirt, with some hard metal rock band gory Gothic drawing on it. Oh yes, out of all people in time like this.

The voice inside me yells “Harassment alert! Don’t talk to strangers!”

I gape in front of him for a moment, and then turn around and go back looking.

“What are you looking for? something valuable?”, he ask again.

The word “something valuable” hit my alarm the second time.

I was about to say “nothing” but the old man beats me to it “A cat. A kitten. Up there, to her right. I saw it just now”

The young man look back at me. I just freeze there, gaping like an idiot.

And then a little yelp coming from the bushes.

The young man take my hand. “Here, hold this”, he was pushing a plastic bag into my muddy hand. He search into his pocket, get his cell phone, and turn it on as a flash light.

Using a big rock just at my right, he jumped into the bushes, drowned to his ankle into the muddy soil.

Then the old man started again “More to the right, to the right…”

I stare at the plastic bag in my hand; and recognize what’s in there: food.

And then the corner of my eye, glimpsed a sparkle I am so familiar with, as the man’s flash light brush around. That sparkle, is a cat’s eye.

Automatically, my hand reached out to the sparkle, and swipe the bushes open.

A black kitten, almost frozen, with dilated pupil, meowing in auto pilot every two minutes. He was stuck between bamboo trunks and shoots.

The man grab its back, trying to let it out of the shoots, push it inside his vest, and then looked at me. “Stay there, don’t move”

I froze. Only my eyes were moving, fixated to the kitten.

He use my shoulder to hold on as he jumped down the slippery bamboo bush. Then he pulls the kitten out, and hand it over to me, the way someone would hand over a stick.

The kitten’s soft fur in my arms some how defrost me. “Thanks”, I whispers. By that time all my panic buttons ran lose and crashes with my good senses.

I hand over his plastic bag back to him. “Your dinner”

He smiled. “I live in this house” he pointed to the house right next to the bamboo. “I saw what happened. Stray cat is sacred property of Street God. I hope those two man die miserably on the street, soon”

Still in autopilot, I dig into my pocket and get some money. It’s what I do when I was exhausted and cornered by some street punk. Get bank notes and throw it in the air before running away.

The man shakes his head “No, I am sincere. I know boys here, the punks, harass you a lot. You are pretty, and you are Chinese. But I am sincere. Go take your kitty home”

I put the money inside the plastic bag, and cross the street.

“Thanks, sir” I nodded as I pass the old man.

He smiled back. “You are famous around here. Residential complex, house number 3, is a street cat lady”

I certainly don’t know about the famous part, but I am grateful anyway. At least the cat is safe. At least God didn’t turn his sight away from the little kitten.

For a few days, the kitten is all right. He is noisy and rambunctious and cannot stay put. Not a single picture I took of him have a clear image. It is almost like nothing happened to him. I tried to consult a visiting vet, and she said that sometimes things like that happened, even to human. Living being has enormous strength in the face of disaster, often beyond comprehension. Further she said, “Let’s hope he is all right. He lost no limb, but two of his nine lives”

So I call him Seven, in the hope that he lost nothing but two lives in the incident, and in honour of a friend in England, who wishes she was lucky enough to go out of her way to help more animals (frankly, she already did).

However, on day five, his right eye start to get watery, and then swollen. Every day, pus start coming out.

seven swollen eye

After that, his right ear start getting watery as well. My worry grow back as Seven loses his appetite and becoming more quiet.

I called the vet back, and she told me that without thorough X ray and special device, it is impossible to pinpoint the location of the damage. However, X ray are only available in Jakarta, and the only vet who owns the special device is the most expensive vet in the country. Her question is whether Seven can endure a long, stressful trip to Jakarta back and forth in his condition. He was a street cat and we didn’t know how great is his endurance.

Looking at his condition closely, anyway, the vet is clear that both his left ears and left eyes will be permanently damaged, though can be healed.

So now I have a kitten with only seven lives, one eye and one ear, but that’s OK. When I saved Monday, I made a promise that whatever happened, I will do what I can, so I will do what I can. When I saved Monday I prayed that God would take care of the small kitten, and when Seven was rescued I prayued the same and God listens. So I took the vet’s prescription I continue to give eye ointments and clean the ear every day. The vet guide me through all the stages, what will happen to his eyes and ears, and what should become of him if I did it right.

Compared to the other rescued cats, Seven made a much much slower progress. However, every time I got home from work, late at night, He’d made himself stand, and try to meow, and as I stroke him I renew my promise that I will do what I can, that we will go through this together, whether we win or not.

One day, the water from his eye will dry out, and what remains of his bursting right eye will fall off. The same with his right ear, one day it will dry out, as he lost his sense of hearing.

But meanwhile, he got a roof to stay under, enough food to sustain him, medication, and whole new line of friends and family. He was a lucky strike, and guess what, though I passed the house the young man pointed to great many times after the incident, I never saw him again. I never saw the old man again.

I am not sure it’s a miracle, and I am still overly cautious to male, and especially punks who seems to hang out in any given street in Bandung; but once in a while, maybe, there’s a few good men left even in Sodom and Gomorrah just in case some innocent animals are in distress. I hope so.

Though I would never know which one is which, just like the lottery.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Edited on April 20, 2013 to incorporate more detail and background leading to the story. I have to. I am utterly embarrassed with my previous poor writing, in which I feel like someone else.

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles

… starts with one step. In my case, it started with one crawl into the sewer, three months ago, on a rainy day like today.

It was supposed to be a quick hop to buy a pack of instant noodle for my dinner, really. It’s less than a mile. The road there is uphill, but it shouldn’t last more than half an hour the longest, even though I walk very slowly because the view down town is enchanting at twilight like that (when it’s not raining). It’s just that midway there, I heard a muffled meow of kitten, as if it comes from somewhere inside the earth.

But there is nothing below my feet. It’s concrete, and below that, a sewer line that opens up to a gutter a few steps behind me. In Indonesia, and especially in Bandung, sewer lines, small rivers, big rivers, and the ocean, equals landfill. People throw everything down there, from making certain pipe skipping septic tank to baby diaper, and all sort of their ex household tools (actually I just try to make the word “trash” more classy)

I stood there, stoned. The rain starts to pour and it hindered my ear, but I can still hear it, muffled, fainter, but unwavering.

Taking a deep breath, the thought of finding a kitten inside that sewer start creeping near. It’s not impossible. It’s all very common to have stray kitty babies inside drain pipes and flushed away with the rain to meet their unseen fate somewhere in the current down to the sea.

Honestly, I hate going in the sewer, much less crawling to a place no one suppose to visit (unless really necessary); but that voice is still there, calling, calling calling.

And the next time I look down, I am already inside the open gutter. It’s deep right through my chest. I am 5’7″, just for a vivid imagination.

sparky sewer
There, inside there, under the concrete.

I stepped on a filled baby diaper. It won’t be different the next step because it’s dirt, with wild grass grown on top of it. Soon, when the rain pour fully, it’s going to be muddy, and my feet will stick in there if I am not hurry. So I scrambled into my pocket and start crawling inside, with a small flash light I always keep inside my pocket (after having to rescue Seven) tightly secured in my mouth.

There is no need to cringe. I know Lassie looks better that way, Air Bud even better. Not sure about Babe though.

Thank God it didn’t take long to spot the caller (should I say meower?); a tiny calico tabby lying on her back in a raising puddle and it doesn’t look happier to meet me in the eye.

I extend one of my hand to reach out to her, but she backed away, on her back. Now, why would a kitten lying and crawling on her back instead of on foot? I don’t know, and I don’t care, for that moment. I am not happy looking like a bozo in the sewer and I am sure that kitten didn’t either. No one will see the awkwardness, so I shouldn’t be worry, but I am still sure my ancestors are primates, not worms.

So I grab her. She can’t crawl fast enough using her back, but perhaps she thinks herself as a snake, because she bit me very hard, and didn’t let go until I put her on top of the roadside, as I struggled to climb back up. There’s no ladder there and I am not a Kung Fu master.

Forget about instant noodle. In fact, forget about dinner. I went home directly, all the mud and dirt covered up by the pouring rain, so no one’s suspecting that I just visit wonderland.

I found out as I bathe her, that all four of her legs were severely cut, one of them has her bone exposed. From the way the cuts were formed, I can guess that she slip into some car’s bottom and got some complications while in there, and either thrown out or throw herself out and landed in the gutter. Unfortunate choice, with a fortunate result.

Both of us made some vet busy stitching the next day, I spend half day waiting right beside her thinking about what would I do next. She won’t be able to walk for a while, and I have plenty of sick kitties. It’s bad enough for her to get into the Syndicate at the time like this because Chlamydia is contagious, but I can’t put her back into that sewer and hope for a miracle. Volunteers? Fosters? Only in my Indonesian dream.

She ended up staying inside my room. It’s not the fanciest place, but it’s a lot better than a gutter, and less chance to get infected by a deadly bacteria. I change my clothing and wash my hand whenever I tend to her wounds and hope that I do it good enough to prevent her from being sick until the other kittens are better.

sparky pillow
still sleepy when arrive home from the clinic
sparky after clinic
Trying to hide her front legs from the ointment XD but her back leg on the picture is still a little swollen that it stuck out because Sparky can’t bend it. Her shoulder is somewhat bald, remains of skin infection.
sparky and luna
Sparky and Luna. Her face is patchy, remains of skin infection (Scabies mange)

Thankfully I did well, at first. The second week she slips out of the door every time I opened it and mingle with the other. Perhaps the four “boots” give her confidence, because she acted like nothing happened, except for tumbling all over every few minutes. A fact that she didn’t seem to care, looking at her face.

The next week, she is better. She has a healthy appetite and she swallow her medicine, though with a very ugly face. I wish someone was there with me to take her look when all those bitter potions went through her throat. Regardless, she brushed it off and jumped back and try to walk and play with the other kitten.

sparky w tricia
Uh Oh….No more ointment!!

Here I am worrying about how her life would be and how cruel the world has been to her, and she just look forward, and go on with life.

Perhaps because she is just a kitten, and kids don’t think very much, but I am happy that she stay positive none the less. It made my job easier.

At the fourteenth day we go back to the vet and made her busy again, undoing all those tiny stitches. Again my new friend just give the heck of what happened and poke everything she saw on the table. I paid back for her by helping the vet cleaning the floor when she swipe on a bottle of antibiotic that crashed into pieces.

At least the vet just grin and said that a busy kitten like mine has bright future. Yeah? what about mine?

Her facial expression changed when she tried walking without her boots. I am sure it still hurt when she walk because all of her hair raise up and she crouched when she walk, but she asked for it.

sparky trying to walk
Sparky walked while crouching and lifting her back right leg
sparky crouch
when the world start to wobble, go the nearest thing and lean on it for a while

See those powerful eyes?

She walks that way for the next four weeks. I noticed that with time, her hair is less punk-ish. She walked better. The front right leg and the back right legs were in worse condition than the other. She walks trying to shift her weight from one side to the other and leaned onto the wall or other things when the pain seems to sting her brain. Plus, she was grumpy at anyone who passed over her, and especially those who bumped her along the way. She is notorious among the Syndicate for her coarse yelling, and other kittens learned to stay as far away as they can whenever the bumping accident happened.

sparky yell
walking with only the left front and back leg

I sense her magnificent progress by the decreasing difficulties that I face every time I tend her. She hasn’t trust me fully yet, but I can lift her up with less incident (such as biting) and she stays put when I give ointment onto her wounds. She has healthy appetite and heals relatively fast.

On the course of the next month, she learns to walk steadily, then she start to skip, and hop, and after that, run. A lot of kittens in the same age helped keep her mind away from her condition and keep her focused to her re-expanding world. Slowly but sure, she took that journey back into becoming a healthy kitten, her youth helped her leaving no mark of stitches, or handicap after her unlucky days on the street.

This little new comer won’t let anything dominate her. She knows that her ancestor is Goddess Bastet, so she knows what she is doing. She bite others if they poke on her, she hissed if the other kitties bumped her as they play, and she tried to stay as far away as possible from the healthier, more active kittens though it doesn’t help because the other still rammed onto her though playfully. As she heal she is more accepting to the playful attacks, and even broke into chase play if one kitten start the game.

Then she decided to go on a conquest to the top of the world, starting by climbing onto my lap when I clean the floor, then up hill through my back onto the top of my head. After that, the kitchen top, then onto the higher sink. When she’s bored with the sink she climb the table next to it, and continue to beat the peak of mountain refrigerator.

One day I saw her steadily climb the window in the living room to the top row, well beyond a meter off the floor.

sparky on top

That spot is her favourite place to hang out and live her dream as Miss Universe of The Whiskers’ Syndicate.

sparky sleeping at top

A few weeks later she is steady enough to start jumping on the window sill. She still yells, and be bossy, especially when I am late rationing food, she is the most unfriendly kitten I know, but when no one is looking, she shows her feminine side and rub on me all over (for extra treat, actually, but she thinks I don’t know that).

I know it by then that she meant to stay and I want to watch her grow to her utmost extent. She went through a lot already for a cat her age, but she reminded me of an old Chinese proverb that a man is not made by where he is, a man was made by his journey getting there. Mi bella Princesa, the way I address her every time she is being bossy, had fallen pretty deep, but she pick her little self up, dust all over and go back walking. I don’t see a lot of the more “superior” (as they claim it) human can do that.

sparky blur
Maybe it’s not Bella, maybe it’s the “Princesa”

So, Bella is her name, until I posted on “Royal Engagement” and my friend Kim came up with a story about a wonderful cat named “Sparky Terror” who share the same sparkling personality, and has been a great company for Kim through thick and thin. Kim would like to name one of Estebel’s kitten in his honour. So I tried calling her Sparky, and she jumps right over.

The name fit. Just like her undying spark of life that never died. It’s only a spark. It’s not hot, but burning, it’s slow, but constantly heating, and though take a long time, that spark highlights a life lesson that we both will never forget.

Three month later, last night, however, I no longer have that kitten.

I ended up with a koala.

sparky koala

A little note:
Please forgive me for the blurry pictures all over. I was using a very old camera since my pad’s camera were worse before it finally died with the phone XP.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

The Sun At My Window Sill

Flopping down onto my bed last Saturday 3 am, I sort of expected to wake up under yet another day of pouring rain in June.

And tending to the remaining sick kitten, filling bottles with hot water to keep them warm, changing their blanket, feed the babies with syringe, quarrel with them about me pushing medicine into their throat without their consent (usually ended up with a few more claw stripes on my hand), mop the floor, clean the litter, changing light bulbs (to keep cages warm), disinfect the house, day in, day out.

My new routine, but it sinks to the bone faster than any day job I have ever been into these past 14 years.

Instead I wake up with the warm kiss of sunshine on my cheek.

With hangover syndrome still clinging over my head, I looked at the small clock right beside my bed. It’s 6:30 am.

I took a deep breath, and slowly force myself to sit on the bed. I wanted to make sure this isn’t a dream; and Goldie’s meowing on my window sill told me loud and clear that it isn’t.

Aside from that small clock beside my bed, Goldie has been the most punctual alarm in the whole world. She always sits on my window sill on 06:30 am, and 05:00 pm and sing “Oooo Sole Meooooow”, reminding me it’s meal time for everyone.

The best thing is? She is completely dry.

I wake up, made my bed, and open the bedroom door. Right there on my empty living room the kittens played chase with each other. Portos, Whitney, Freed, Whisper, Butterscotch, Sparky Terror, Tricia, Stevia…..

Some lounged at the windowsill looking outside, but whatever they do, they all rammed onto me as soon as they heard me on that door.

They don’t usually that cheerful if the rain is going to come later, so it dawned on me that summer had finally begin to arrive.

And so I started my day in a completely different mood. I feed them with extra width on my smile, and the cheerful air those kitties bring wiped my exhaustion away. The freshness of the morning wind brought me back to life as I opened all the windows, and the way the kittens lift their nose as the breeze rushes into the house evoke the gratefulness in my heart. How nice it is to be able to feel the grace of nature, especially after a long, tiring war that confine us to our house and beds.

It’s a brand new day, with a brand new hope, brand new dream.

After they all eat, unlike the other days, Estebel follows me outside to the cattery, and back again running and purring, calling all of her kitties, and my house is immediately empty as she lead a long line of kittens out to the backyard.

Reminds me of a folklore about a piper and the children.

under the sun

Watching them enjoying the first sun of the summer is like a new breath is blown into my soul. As I continue my rigid medication scheme and diet, the sick cats seems to get better, and they don’t want to waste the sun to dry the rest of their runny nose. The trot with which they experience their first day out convince me that everything is going to be all right.

The war is almost over, though we still have a long way to go.

Our enemy at the other end is Chlamydophylla felis; a bacterium endemic among domestic cats worldwide, primarily causing inflammation of feline conjunctiva (red, swollen eyes), rhinitis (runny nose) and respiratory problems. It can affect any cats but it is more often seen in kittens between 5 and 9 months of age and cats in overcrowded or stressful environments.

The predominant clinical sign of C. Felis is conjunctivitis; an abnormal eye discharge due to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane lining the inside of the eyelid (it’s that second eyelids that cat have) and the the white part of the eye itself, (known as the sclera). The eyes initially develop a watery  discharge, as the infection progresses, the conjunctiva becomes reddened and swollen and the discharge becomes thicker. It may start out with discharge from one eye, but usually spreads to both eyes. Symptoms usually appear around 5 days after exposure. Mild upper respiratory symptoms such as low grade fever, crusty nose and sneezing. It is possible for a cat to appear outwardly healthy but be shedding the bacteria which can be passed onto other cats through eye discharge.

Chlamydophila felis attach themselves to the mucosal cells of the conjunctiva, gastrointestinal and genital tracts. In young kittens chlamydiosis may cause pneumonia.

C. felis can be cured through aggressive antibiotic treatment, both orally and for the swollen eye. Since it can cause respiratory problems, cats can lose their appetite because they can’t smell their food well (cats eat mostly based on smell, not on taste), and if their lung is infected they will be too suffocated to even want to eat or drink. This can cause cats to be dehydrated, and later on, die.

There is a vaccination available for Chlamydophila felis. It can reduce the severity of symptoms but doesn’t prevent infection in the first place. There are side effects associated with a small percentage of cats including lethargy, lameness, depression, anorexia, fever and therefore it is only recommended for high risk situations. American Association of Feline Practitioners don’t recommend routine use of this vaccination.

When I am still working my day job, it is almost impossible for me to win against C.felis and their friends. The characteristic of the bacteria (respiratory problem, non eating cats, dehydration) required full attendance and I can’t possibly care for the cats, much less kittens while I have to work at the office. It is why I always go home to find dead cats or those that I have to let go because I am almost always late to get home. Now that I took the plunge into full time animal rescue, I have my confidence because I can stay with the sick cats. I can keep them hydrated, I do whatever I can to keep them comfortable, I made them eat, I give medicine regularly, I can keep my eyes open to any symptoms and immediately connected to any vet whose number is on my phone. I am still slow because I have to do everything by myself, but I don’t have to wait a half day sitting helplessly behind my office desk before taking action.

This first day of the summer is like mother nature switching side to my favour. C. felis lived inside the cell of their host (the cat), this made them vulnerable in open environment; and since all the kitties feel strong enough to go outside, they can get as many clean and fresh air as possible.

While the weather is still bad, however, I need to rigorously prevent the disease from going round from one cat after another and re-infect cured cat. That’s why after all those feeding and medicating warfare with the kittens, I clean, clean, clean. I bleached the litter box, I bleach and scrub their cage pans, I bleach the floor, and the mop, and the blankets, and the beds. They all changed colours and look terribly ugly, but I bleach them anyway. I even bleach the wall, and for this matter, I am very lucky that white paint is cheaper than other colour (hence the developer paint all their houses’ interior white). I bought imported sanitizing spray because it can kill cat flu virus that usually riding Chlamydiosis, and although it kills my wallet very fast, I bought and spray anyway.

A few months ago, I got Kuning (pronounced coo + nee (like “neat”) + ending with ng) from my vet. He was crushed by car right at his stomach and since has gastrointestinal problem. To help him digest food, I gave him special formula for people with the same disease, and this formula is my crucial weapon in this year’s warfare. It is a peptide formula. Peptide is a readily digested protein. It’s lactose free and gluten free, and also low fat. It is easily absorbed with the body and help the cats retain their energy because they almost don’t eat anything. It is mixed with drinking water (in room temperature) so the cats are drinking and eating at the same time.

For the kitten I got a newborn baby formula for medically needy newborn. AL-110 is also lactose free and sucrose free.

peptamen frontpeptamen back

AL 110
The can said: Baby formula for special medical need. Lactose free for 0-12 months. No additional sucrose.

If you guessed these two are expensive (at least in Indonesia), you guess right. Both are imported from Switzerland, and ALL imported items in Indonesia got twice to three times their original price elsewhere. This is why Indonesian government is very rich, while their countrymen are very poor.

It’s a long, exhausting war, but I determine that I can save more lives this year than the past.

And I do save more, gratefully. I still lost many, but more than half of the Syndicate’s kitten made it through.

The excruciating price of the war is paid by these:

estebel teachingsunbathing1sunbathing2

Taking one deep breath, then, I looked behind me. There are still three kittens awaiting for that amazing leap of recovery that comes with drier season, but from their progress, I know I want to keep the war on.

I once read it on twitter that war is like nuclear reactor produces super heroes. It is a rare occasion, but even though those superheroes always win, the event produces more damage than endowment.

I agree.

al 110 b-a
6 cans of Nestle AL 110
peptamen b-a
5 cans of Nestle Peptamen
lysol dead
9 cans of disinfectant spray

And…

cupboard b-a
The whole cupboard of cat food that I usually bring and distribute for the street. On the right is Stevia and Dusty.

I have no affinities with those brands shown. They do not sponsor me. I just bought those because it’s on sale and the size made it easy for me to carry everywhere.

A little bit on the personal side (though I use it for the Whiskers’ Syndicate’s sake):

eggpadz dead

eggpadz-hero-3g-7-16gb-

It’s a low end, local China made tab that my brother sent me after my cellphone was dead last month (it was soaked under sudden rain along with me, remember?). The brand is “Eggpadz” (you said “huh?” I told you it’s low end…) I used it literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to communicate with vets and call pet shops to deliver cat food, mobile banking (pay the bills, the vets and pet shops), answering emails and updating shop and after one month of abusive slavery (the kitten like to sleep on it too, because it’s warm), it too died on me (*sigh*). So there’s no fast email reply after this folks, and no online everyday until I got enough money to buy new cell phone. A decent cell phone that probably won’t die in a month cost around USD 250 (*heavy breath*).

I am not kidding with all those pictures. I know it’s kind of “funny”. I am just trying to take my major broke-ness in a lighter and more positive way. I don’t want to fill this site with laments all the time.

I am also not kidding with that “major broke-ness”. The donation bar at the right side of this site seems to be stuck at 50%, and our Etsy shop has been quiet as well. So, it’s rather impossible to buy anything.

Even so, I believe that there’s a way somewhere out there and I believe that that way will be opened if I don’t quit.

Besides, those are not all of my loss. The casualties of this war worth more than anything money can buy. All the kittens that didn’t make it through to see that sun on my window sill will stay alive in my heart and mind all the time. I envy them for being able to slip through life that easily and ended up at the bosom of our most gracious Lord, without pain, without hunger, or abuse or suffering, while I am still left here on filthy earth holding on to hope. Those kittens are priceless, and their presence in my heart will be my motivation to reach out to more street cats, until there are no more.

Sources for Chlamidophyla felis and Feline Chlamydiosis is coming from:

Wikipedia, Cat World Australia, National Center for Biotechnology Information, University Animal Hospital, and PetMD among others.

Click respective site name for more information.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

The Royal Engagement

This is official. Cinderella is losing her glass shoes so Prince Charming is looking for another bride. If any of you own a glass stiletto, 4 inches high, about size 3, you are eligible to be the next princess. You may now share the news.

Just kidding. I am not crazy yet. Though honestly the past two weeks can get me there.

But before I got to the crazy part, let us announce the winner of last event.

Here is the nominee again:

kitten nominee

and here is the entry:

  1. Domino
  2. Checkers
  3. Milkshake
  4. Shadow
  5. Bluey
  6. Ebony
  7. Whitey
  8. D’Artagnan
  9. Portos
  10. Artos
  11. Aramis

The random draw said:

Kitten #1 is a female, and she got “Whitney” (the computer keep saying “error” because whitey is not grammatically correct *sigh*)

Kitten #2 is a male and he got “Domino”

Kitten #3 is a male and he got “Ebony”

Kitten #4 is also male and he got “Portos”

So we got 4 winners.

The prize:

mat whole

is available in pink, red, khaki (light brown), orange and blue.

Can each of the winner email me at whiskerssyndicate[at]gmail[dot]com with their preferred colour and shipping address? One versatile fish hunting cat is coming your way.

The way Kim told me about her wonderful friend “Sparky Terror” really inspire me, so I cheated a little bit and remove that name from the competition to be given especially to a very special cat. She is around 4 months old. Her story is a horror story, but the way she deals with it was so wonderful I think the name Sparky Terror will be perfect for her.

I am saving her full story for another day, but if you really want a peek, here she is:

sparky blur

That said, Kim also got one of the versatile, fish hunting cat. So claim your colour now, Kim!

Now the crazy part.

Monsoon is coming, and it seems like the conference of extreme weather had begun. Storm, typhoon, earthquake, landslide, flood, all over the world; and here in Bandung, seasons went upside down.

Starting with April, monsoon was suppose to bring warm weather and smiling sun above our county. It will be dry season all over Indonesia until October, when another monsoon come to bring the rain.

But unlike any dry season it’s very wet now in Bandung, with occasional shower and daily torrential rain. It’s not raining cats and dog, only water, but flood is everywhere. Perhaps like Melbourne, Bandung can change weather from hundreds of Farenheit to only fifty, or lower, and jumped back up the next morning. Like London, Bandung is covered with mist even until midday, and some of the days the sun didn’t even bother to show. Our laundry that supposed to dry within half an hour in normal weather, now need the whole day to dry.

At the other side, diseases paraded the entire city. Kitty season had begun a few months ago and everywhere around Bandung you will see baby kitten to toddler cats and their parents sneezing and got runny, crusty eyes or sitting in the middle of the street seeking a dry sun while gasping for air. Without treatment, those kitten will catch pneumonia in a few days and go through their agonizing death within 48 hours.

domino nose
Yes, it’s Domino, feverish
pukun nose
Pukun and his crusty nose.
indie sick
A street kitten that I picked up, and have to let go the same evening
white grey
This one too, didn’t go out of the clinic alive

For the rest of the month until the sun is more stable, I will see plenty of dried out, grisly looking little carcases in dumpsters, along the river, in the sewer, and landfill. They spread germs to the other street cats, and the circle of evil started over.

If I wish I have a hundred pairs of hand like Goddess Kuan Yin, it will be an understatement, because I will still need a few more brain to actually handle sick kittens in the Whiskers’ Syndicate alone. One gets better, the other went down, and so on.

At time like this, the bills grow taller very fast, while the income seems to stay where they are.

Then the temptation to go back to work that still lurk in the dark start coming out. If I have my day job I can always rely on the other bank account that is automatically filled every month.

That temptation clashed with the sense of devastation too familiar every time the season is changing. I would have to pick up a lot of disease ridden cat from the street much too often, and paid a lot of money for vet clinic stay over. But with less to tend for them, every day I will go home and find at least one kitten or senior die, alone, on the cold floor or in the cage of the vet office. What’s the point?  Then I remembered that I always promise that next time it will be better, and I decided that this is the time I keep that promise, and with that beat the temptation of some jobseeker dot com.

I spend more time with the cats, I monitor them all the time. I pay attention to symptoms, because of that, I save more cats. Instead of seeing one cat die in my living room one every night, I see one that got better, one after the other. Some didn’t make it, but instead of dying alone on a cold floor in an empty house, or the street, they die in my arm. I stayed with them, long enough to say goodbyes, so that when they had to go to Rainbow Bridge and meet Noah, or Peter, or God anyway, they can say that they’ve been loved. My vet said it even better. She quoted that famous song from the sinking Titanic.

Love can touch us one time

And last for a lifetime

And never let go till we’re gone

Between the little remaining free time, when the mobsters are sleeping,  I spend time by myself by sewing new toys. Stitching had somehow become consoling meditation for me and it does help bring the enlightenment that if I want to get these cats’ plight surfaced, I need to spread ourselves thinner.

For that matter, Care2 that has been my home for years is seemingly out of option. Though  I truly missed my friends there and the thick flavour of filial piety between our great circle of friends, I was cut out of the site for over a year, even when I try logging in at different time of the day, using different browser, different computer, or even opening a new account.

Screenshot from 2013-06-07 01-55-01 for care2

So I dragged myself into other social  media, and one of the other that I already have is Google +. The name said enough about who own it. It’s a mix of facebook and twitter, though it came pretty late into the competition, so the majority verdict is that it’s not going to stand up against the very many others, let alone facebook.

When it launched a sometimes back I gave it a try, but it was as empty as the desert so I left, like many other. I don’t want to go to Facebook because I am still overwhelmed by the many gruesome picture and animal cruelty people posted in their pages day after day and it exacerbated my insomnia because I have to see that same amount of cruelty in my daily life already.

But when I go back there, it’s totally different. Google+ had grown so well that it has literally hundreds of animal defender communities unlike any other, and just for fun, Google + is now the second social media sought out after facebook.

So I plunge in with less hesitation and join my old Care2 friends like +Kay HelpSaveAnimals Fisher who already there sounding the plea of the death row pets all over the world and +Michelle Sibinovic who campaign for the shelters around the world (and she endorses the Syndicate as well!). She invited me into another animal defender league and engage me to new friends like   +Adelheid Adelliam who relentlessly campaigning for Faroe Island’s pilot whale and Taiji’s dolphin.

Soon enough I find myself in the middle of animal welfare war that I had left in Care2. I spend as much time as I can allow creating awareness for Whiskers’ Syndicate, and although it is still pretty empty, we are now in Google + as +The Whiskers’ Syndicate. If you are there before us, please send some pluses our way.

While God had sent me a brigade of friends who helped me with the cats, and advices, and care in the cat sphere, this time he crosses my path with cool people like +Mayura De Silva a web specialist who seems to be able to conquer any code and use his expertise to help the Syndicate to finally get a facebook page here: The Whiskers’ Syndicate Facebook. What I try to accomplish (and spectacularly failed) to do in 3 days, he done it in 53 minutes including a power outage from his home in Sri Lanka.

Did I mention that we now have a twitter account? @WhiskerSyndicat.

Talking about spreading ourselves thin! But honestly, if this can help making Bandung street animal’s plight heard, then so be it.

So if you are in any of those platforms, come and visit us. We cannot promise a lot of content yet, because all of those were made recently, but while you are there, please drop by and give us a high five, and share the plight of Bandung animals. We are soaked wet here, but we have hope that the sun will rise for us tomorrow, so we hang in there just one more day.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.


Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When you might have won had you stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.


Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worse,
that you must not quit.

Silent Tide

Few nights ago, when I was working late, I felt like someone was watching me; but when I glimpsed at the dark backyard, I saw nothing, so I return my attention to my computer. The latest flavour of Ubuntu had given me enough troubles with mobile broadband that I want to dump them and returned to Windows (if only Windows is not sold at one million Rupiah per install in Indonesia), so like usual, I tried to work around the issues while trying to keep in mind that they helped animals and wildlife with each of their copies.

The feeling continues, though, so while laughing at my own idea of a handsome (or hungry) vampire keeping an eye on me, I looked out from the window and find Tortie curling up on its frame, watching me. That explains why I can’t see her with a glimpse. She is, well – a tortoiseshell, and her condition give her a solid motivation to be stealthy.

The cat’s charm took over me. Immediately I forgot my computing and play with her at the window, stroking her soft and fluffy fur and praise her for being such a marvellous member of the Whiskers’ Syndicate, when I realized that she’s been with us for a year now. She was a star May last year when I submitted her story to celebrate Mother’s Day in Animal Rescue Chase.

Then I heard soft scratches from the door behind me. Another mother is waiting to share the night with me.

Unlike America that celebrate Mother’s day in May, Indonesia celebrate Mother’s day in December 22nd (no idea why).

A few days before Indonesia Mother’s Day last year, I met Estebel.

It was a few days before my final day at the office; an emotional time as I remembered it was this office that brought me to Bandung, and get me to start Whiskers’ Syndicate. Also because the office and their self-proclaimed loyal underling did whatever they can to make me miserable. That office consists of old time, dead wood employees who climbed their corporate ladder by licking the asses of those above them, and they sure hate shooting star employees who rise and shine with their aptitude. Every single day someone would come to my cubicle and try to scratch some information on a company secret that they can use, or trying to get me to talk bad about someone above them, although they know I sewn my mouth shut.

A particular day was different, when an errand boy who knows I used to pick up street cats came into my cubicle and lean on me to whisper: “Mam, there’s a street cat, a beautiful one, with two kittens, in the security post and I think you should get them”

I raised my eyebrow and smile. He continues, “The drivers and I had been trying to hide them, because they are not noisy or dirty and they are good looking; but my supervisor found out and I was ordered to throw them away into the river”

Then I stop smiling. That errand boy’s supervisor is one of those loyal underlings.

“What you think I should do? This is office hour. You’d be in trouble if your supervisor found out”

“I put them in a box”, he said, “I put holes at the side, and hid them under the drivers’ bench. The drivers know. All of them vote that I should tell you because you wouldn’t have allow the cats to be killed. It’s beautiful. They are dark grey, not black, not grey, but like those in the movies. You can see it by yourself later”

I got his point. ” When your supervisor gone to the boss to report his daily work, call me from the kitchen”

He went out as fast as he went in.

He will make a very good informant, or spy, in a James Bond movie, I think, or some direct selling salesman.

The call came near lunch time, and I rushed out to the security posts. There are some drivers there but when they saw me walked leisurely toward them they either pretend they didn’t see me or walk away.

I went inside, grab the only box under the bench, and walk out like nothing happened.

This started to sound like a suspense movie.

I walk straight to the block across, where a pair of dog rescuer lives. The kind husband and wife are relative to a pet shop owner to which I frequent (the only one in Bandung who would risk her business advocating people to spay and neuter and stop breeding).

Like I thought, they were out. Both of them are running an architecture business so they gone out often, but their maids knew me and my business.

The maid who answered my door bell opens the gate and when she heard rustling sound from the box, she guided me directly to an empty space in a garage.

I put down the box and told her that I will be coming back after 5 pm, and to inform her bosses when they came back home.

When I walked out from the office at 5pm, the errand boy from earlier was standing right at the doorway and when I passed, he went to the other way and as he passed me whispered, “Thank you, mam, you’re not going to be sorry”

I was almost convinced that I was in a spy movie.

That time, the one who answer my door bell at the rescuer’s house was the wife herself.

“Your cat is diligent” she said. “When I got home the box was already empty. I found her and her two kittens in a corner. They came out from the air hole at the side, clawing it bit by bit until it’s large enough for her and her kittens to go out”

“How do you know it was her?” I asked. She also keep several cats after they got neutered before returned on the street.

“All of my TNR are yellow. She is black and white, and she has two very sick kittens”

She wasn’t kidding me when she said the kittens are sick. They looked fine in general, but their eyes were watery and there were plenty of crusts around their nose. So was their mother, actually, but since her nose was black the crusts were hard to be seen.

She was also not kidding about the mother cat being diligent. We put her into another box, and put holes at the side, and she stuck her paw out and start digging. In fifteen minutes all three of them were out again. We did it about three times with various boxes until we settled with a crate. I brought her directly to the vet and the two kittens were diagnosed with severe pneumonia and Chlamydia. One of them has blue fur but it’s not the real blue. It was black that fade because of malnourishment.

I called the mother Estebel (eSaved by The Bell (boy)) and the two kittens Shadowfax because of the grey coat (and I like Lord Of The Rings) and Lightningstrike because of white lightning mark on his black forehead (I don’t really keen on Harry Potter). (

Estebel cared deeply for her two kittens. She never stop trying to get her kittens to nurse and milk although her kittens stop drinking as their condition deteriorate, and she keeps herself well. She eats a lot, she sleeps a lot, she drink her medicine. I have never seen a cat so willingly swallow medicine before.

Although we tried, the two kittens died two weeks later. Estebel mourned properly. She kiss her kittens, she licks them, she sits by them as I left them alone for a while, and she watched all the way when I bury her kittens.

Her habitual self care didn’t cease, however. She still eats a lot, she still clean a lot, and I notice her tummy were getting bigger and harder. I gave her de-wormer, and she lets out quite a number of worm, but her tummy didn’t stop growing, while her body seems to stay thin. So I brought her back to the vet and see if she get tape worm. That time, the vet’s verdict was a shock: Estebel is pregnant, and judging from the USG, she has been pregnant when I took her home.

So Estebel has been carrying babies while caring for two sick kittens, and I have never had trouble with her whatsoever.

Estebel carried her pregnancy during the most turbulent times in my life. She entered my life when I was most troubled of the rat race that consumed my life, she gone through with me as I tried to balance my new life as a full time rescuer, she sit steady when my confidence gone wobbly and in panic I took another job, she was with me when I go through the most troublesome job in my entire life, for a month, and then she gave birth when I hit bottom.

I was in the middle of trying to drag myself up after I lost Chase, and I am not keen on anything at that time. I keep tending to the cats, I feed them, I cleaned their litter boxes and their play ground. I give medicine to the sick one, but I was pretty much a walking dead. I didn’t do anything special to prepare Estebel and her babies except giving her vitamins and extra food, and when I think of it now, I felt guilty because I was sort of neglecting her.

In exchange, Estebel took part in changing the direction of my life that end of April. I left her at the backyard to enjoy the sun, the way she always liked to do after she got breakfast, but I didn’t let her in until somewhere in the afternoon. I took my medicine and fall asleep, but then awakened by the sound of a baby kitten right under my room’s window.

Half tumbling, I ran out to find that Estebel has been licking on a new born black baby, and its cries were getting the attention of the other. Without much thinking I grab my towel (that I use to take a bath) and wrap her and her babies and take them inside. I got a cage ready at the living room, just in case I rescued a panic cat, so  I pretty much just lay her and her babies inside the cage with the towel, get a bed linen and cover the cage. I boil some water, prepare a bowl of warm cat milk, and put it inside the cage at the corner with some food.

By that time she already gave birth to the second. A black and white baby that has a black smear on its nose and mouth just like her. And then the third.

Then I heard the fourth born (I can’t replicate the sound, just the sound of a cat baby being born), but I didn’t hear any cry. I thought Estebel was working on it so I just sit quietly in front of the covered cage.

After a few minutes, I heard a rustling sound and my curiosity got over me, so I peeked and found her licking a baby excessively, but it didn’t move, so I ran to get some drinking straw, took the baby and try to blow some air inside.

It was a stillborn after all.

She stared at me all the time, so I looked back at her and tell her “It was a stillborn, Estebel. It was never there to begin with. I am sorry”

I was about to leave her with the stillborn when I heard another sound. I peeked in and another one was delivered safely.

No wonder her tummy was so big. She was carrying five babies, and delivering it in such a nice order. Black, B/W, another black, the stillborn (it was black), and B/W. All the B/W are medium hair, while the blacks are short haired. One of the B/W has long tail, the other one has short tail. One of the blacks also have short tail, and the other one long tail.

Talking about being well organized, eh, Estebel? Are you mocking me?

estebel maternity

It was watching her giving birth that mostly changed my life. I lost some income and got through some trouble and lost a beloved pet, and I trashed about like a mad man, while Estebel endures all the pain of carrying babies and raising two kittens, losing both of them the same day, cure herself of Chlamydia while pregnant, and still go through every single thing silently.

I am embarrassed of myself for being so weak and as punishment I pull myself up, dust myself, and put back the armour of courage and acceptance that I have scattered around during last month. Life goes on, and so do we.

That’s not all. Estebel continue to eat a lot, ask for milk (as soon as she learn that I got kitty milk heh), drink her vitamin, chew fish oil capsules (I did the grinning and ugly face for her), swallow dewormer, anything I gave her, she finished it. Estebel never left her babies. She just stay in the cage silently and wait for the next ration. She slips out of the cage when the towel is dirty and go straight back into nursing as soon as I replace it.

After her babies started to crawl out of the cage, the kitty season begin, and I saved four more dire kittens from the street, starting with a white and yellow tabby I called Freed (story coming soon!) all of whom she allows to nurse from her.

Estebel and Freed
Freed tried to snuggle. Estebel later adopted him

With her growing family, Estebel ask for more food. She can eat up to four portion of cat food in one day, not to mention her milk, but I understand she is trying to produce milk as much as possible, so I never refuse to give her more.

She nursed her kitten so well that it grows healthy and strong, and beautiful, and big (I mean fat).

Freed adopted
The litter and the free-loader

Besides, Estebel saved my life. I was at the crossroads with a cloudy human mind, and Estebel come across and going through what she meant to be, and that reminded me of what I meant to be, and go through with it.

Estebel taught me that changing lives, and world, starts with me. She care for herself not out of selfishness but because she wants to give her best to her children. If I am to change the worlds of so many street cats I should first have enough of myself to be able to give my best for them. I needed to stay healthy to be able to go around feeding the feral, I needed enough sleep to write properly, I needed to be healthy to get some job and pay the bills.

Estebel reminded me of my own advice, a line long forgotten in the mess of my nowadays: Life goes on, and so do we. She taught me to let go by allowing two of her kittens to pass, and told me to move forward by raising four, and adopted extra four.

estebel crowded

All the books that I read ask me to think of others first, and I totally agree with that, but this mother cat showed me that in order to do that, I should start with myself, and let the ripples that comes afterwards do its own part.

My rambling mind goes right back at the door when it’s finally opened. Estebel has been diligently scratching, and scratching, and scratching, and the law of attraction returns her calling.

I jumped off from the bed and meet her round eyes in that middle of the night.

“Happy Mother’s day, Estebel. You want some milk? Night snack?”

She just turn her back and walk straight to the refrigerator.

Better than me, it seems like she knows what she wanted after all. As I follow her, I thought that maybe, I got the answer of why ancient people worship animal God, and while they did, their culture were so much advanced than those who adores fellow human.

pot line

I know that Mother’s day hype had passed, but May is still around for a couple of days, and I need names for Estebel’s kittens.

If you would like to send me some suggestion, one name for one kitty,  click the “comment” and then choose “name/url”. Enter your name and email and your suggestion by citing the number of which kitten you would like to name (see pictures below). I will edit all entries by hiding your email address and show only your name, so it’s safe!


If you want to vote for one name that others submitting, also leave a comment about your support on one name.

If you are not interested to enter but have something to say? That’s OK too. Go ahead and comment, it’ll be a pleasure!

If you are not joining but would like to help a little, that’d be highly appreciated. June is only a week away and our donation can are still empty (see the blue Pitch In box at the top right)

kitten nominee

We are open for suggestion until May 31st.
Four chosen one (one for each kitten) will have this:

mat whole

Whiscraft handmade mat! It’s 67 cm (26.3 inches) long and 45 cm (17.7 inches) wide. 

When you win I will contact you by email to confirm your choice. You can make it into your room mat, give it to your cat, hang it on the wall, use it as a table runner, or use it as your sleeping pillow’s case. You name the colour. Just tell me!

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

The Importance Of Being Earnest

By the time this post goes on air, I’d be out of work for almost the whole month. I am standing at the threshold of a chapter in my life in which I will define my purpose in life, and re-write my legacy.

During the fourteen years in the rat race, I have grown nothing but discontent of its glass roof syndrome. The bosses manipulate their power for personal and professional greed while the workers – choked with every words of wisdom to do their best so they can climb the corporate ladder – work to the end of their lives to be just like their bosses. With brand new car every turn of the year, brand new gadgets with every turn of the week, huge bonuses, luxurious clothing, morning golf plays (and claim the expenses of their enjoyment as “entertaining the customer” or “lobby expenses”

I am not going to say that I fail the race. I climbed the corporate ladder enough during the 14 years. I started as a clerk, and finished as the personal assistant to the president commissioner, but it only make me see the glass roof clearer. If you can’t get inside the circle of those 1% (regardless of your way to get in there), you’ll finish second.

The hard fact is, the harder you work, the richer the 1%. Time and energy in the corporate were spend from the bottom to the top, but the income went to the top first while we are like the dogs who eats the crumbs that fell from their table.

So, when the hypocrisy of the corporate become unbearable, I quit the race. I ripped the numbers from my chest and turn away from the crowded running lanes. I choose to run through the green pastures, the wet soil, and breathe fresh air.

I was wrong about the green pastures, and the wet soil, and the fresh air.

In fact, the first that I have to handle was my shop’s sales flop. The shop will be my only means of income after I retire; but it seems like I had simply forgotten that God had never promises that the sky is always blue and the sun is always shining. In my haste I have forgotten to look left and right before I cross the street and I am hit right on my first step.

I got panic and the devil shows up in the body of a business associate who called me to say how shocked he was to hear that I left the company, and that if possible, he want me to join his newly found curtain factory.

I didn’t know him. He is a friend of the new boss of the company (which I just quit) who showed up in my compartment once and a while to ask for a help with his own business. See what I mean? He is not even part of the company, but because he is a friend of the boss he can roam carefree into someone else’s office and told some employee to do this and that for his own purposes; and we workers can’t do anything but do what he said because if he was displeased and talk about us to the boss, we might lose our job.

However at that time, it felt like God had taken me out from the valley of darkness and put me into the green meadow, so I jumped in and again, forget to look left and right before I cross the street.

I got the job, and I thought that God had forsaken my plea, and the only way to survive with my sanctuary was to see the glass roof again.

The new boss is a complete miser.  He paid the factory worker very low, with working standard very high, he delay payment to the suppliers, and almost all other things, he made an agreement for one thing and when that one thing is delivered he suddenly backed off and re-negotiate the price, and all over places he deal with he gave my number so people flocked to me for an explanation of the most ridiculous set of action I ever met on earth.

After the incidence when he sat on Tealca, which sparked an intense argument between us, the forbidden apple effect started to wane. The new job is at the end of the entire Bandung, and I have to go out at 6 am in the morning if I am to reach the factory on time, so I have to wake up at 2 am in the morning in order to take care of the Syndicate first. I went home immediately at 5 pm, when the work’s over, but the terrible traffic made me reach home no earlier than 8 pm. No more feeding the street cat, no more delivery blankets to them when it rains, no more time to play with the Syndicate, and I skip food even more often than before because I am too tired to just turn on the stove and made a cup of hot cocoa. I also forget my liver.

My relatives and readers remind me to get enough rest and food, and my mother text-ed me like crazy to remember my liver but the snowball already rolled. I felt like my life is going out of control and that I am gasping for air trying to handle everything all by myself.

I contracted Chicken Pox on April Fool’s day. A true gift of my ignorance.

It is the result of degraded immune system due to my exhaustion, and my condition was so bad that my fever was so high, I can barely stand, and ulcers were everywhere, including inside my mouth, that rendered me unable to eat. I survive for three days drinking water with glucose that I always keep in spare. It is only my immense will that drag me out of the house to the nearest hospital for treatment.

A few minutes after I went home, I heard a ruckus from the stall across the house, someone telling the other to “get it” but I ignore them.

cursed stall
Stall across the house. Kids ran away from school to smoke, thugs, and pickpockets often lounged there. The lady owner offered free information about nearby households.

It took me a few minutes to realize that Chase slipped out when I went back home.

Chase side
Chase

Chase was rescued from her ‘thrilling’ life as a bait for dog race, and because of this fate she learn to move with ultimate stealth and velocity, so she often slips out of the house before, but she was never far. She was always waiting for me in an empty lot just two houses away, waiting for me to frantically looking and calling out for her. It’s her signature way to get my attention, and it never failed.

With red dots all over my body I ran out. I ran out and call out her name, but no answer. I rushed back to get the keys, and go out to the street, with people looking at me like leper, but Chase was gone. All the thug-looking people in front of the stall dispersed immediately after they see me, and Chase was nowhere to be found.

I called out for her all the way back to the empty lot but no answer, and as I walked home with even higher fever, the woman who owns the stall have the guts to appear innocent and ask “Lost your cat?”

I knew that “Get it get it” voice came from her stall back then, so she must have known what happened, and she dared scratching me for a response so she can gawk on her customer with ‘a new story’

I looked at her, and hiss “Curse thee who knows evil but do nothing. Curse thee and may thy loved one be stolen in front of thy eyes”

I curse with all my heart. I have never been more serious – take my word for it – and the woman had never see me with such fear in her eyes. I must have looked like devil.

I was at that time, and I don’t even wear Prada.

Inside the house, however, this devil cried. It is me who was cursed. Chase was stolen right in front of my eyes, and I can’t do anything to help her. I got Chicken pox, a petty illness that unfortunately take awful long time to heal, doubtless I will lose a lot of income because I can’t go out. I was made a complete fool in April’s fool day. God has great sense of humor.

Against doctor’s order, I gone out to the street anyway. Every morning and evening, the time when the cats got their rations, I put on my jacket and go round the block and nearby areas calling out her name. I was worried to death about her and besides, things can’t be worse than it already is.

Two days later, as I went out to look for Chase and bought some medicine, I caught up under the sudden rain and my cellphone was soaked dead.

I had no means of communication, nor internet for a week.

Yeah right, and I thought things can’t go any worse.

Well, things can get worse after all. And of all things that God can do, He took me down instead of up.

I was distressed; and as result I spend the whole day, and every day after that trashing around swearing at God for what He had done to me. When I am not angry I’d cry loudly like a crazy man, and in between my madness I even swear I’d stop believing in Him.

After I ran out of energy, the remaining of the next week gave me the quiet I needed.

For the first time in my life boys stop teasing me when I pass by. For the first time in my life all those men stop offering me a ride to their bed and giving me the joy of my life, for the first time in my life I own the element of power through fear, and for the first time in my life people take me as something they should not interfere, even though I was yelling with sore voice calling a cat, peeking under every car and inside every trash.

When you are happy, your friends know you, when you are sad you know your friends.

It’s true. I am very happy to know that the ones who stays are the street cats. I gave my life for them, and in return, they become the only ones who actually come over, despite my look, and the only ones to rub all over me, unchanged.

At night, when I was sleepless thinking of Chase, I remembered that last year I asked God if I can just quit my job and live from writing and crafting, the way Saint Peter did, and one of those days God actually listened. He gave me enough retirement bonus to fall back to during drier days, but it is I who panicked from the absence of the constant paycheck and jumped right into the fire, only because of one hurdle.

I found out that it is I who made myself into a fool. I want one thing but go to the other direction. I dream of being independent but is fearful of the variable checks (that might be bigger than the regular pay, if only I keep trying). I want to go through the road less taken but demand a highway covered with red carpet and fragrant roses. I promise to just do what I can, but depended on other people to provide me with food on the table, in exchange of excruciating working hour and horrendous commute.

If I were God, I’d be tad confused with the half-ass Josie, but Thank God His mercy is everlasting. Instead of striking me with lightning, I got to live another day, and another, and another.

Then, as days pass by, I regained my composure, and one by one, my anger was replaced by gratefulness.

I am not sorry to go into the job deal. It is because I took the job that I was able to meet Monday. It is because of this job that I was able to help Tealca, and Seven. While truly terrible, this job is only that “path less taken” that deliver me to the precious souls that never fails to enrich my life.

I am not sorry for the Chicken Pox either. For most, it stops the rolling snowball. It serves as a brake that I needed to stop and see where I was actually going, sans hallucination or paranoia. It’s a crossroad that take me away from the wrong path into the right one, and through it God had given me my second chance to choose where I want to end my race. Besides, hadn’t for the illness I wouldn’t have been able to help Estebel (her story coming soon) deliver her (complicated) babies, and I will be late to save Blossom (also coming soon) from going panic and step on her newborn to death.

estebel maternity
Estebel, a few hours after delivering four babies (plus one stillborn)

I decided that I need to make space for something new to enter my life, aside from new rescues. As a gratefulness for everything that has been given to me, in turn, I gave a lot of things away. I finally am able to live just with one suitcase (of daily wear) and was very happy when I found myself not panicking with what I am going to wear the next working day. I can work with shirt and short if I want to.

I come to truly enjoy my many additional flecks all over my face – a fact that my mother was horrified with.

She sent me a recipe to make soap out of natural ingredients, to help my skin heal and asked me if I can make it, otherwise she will make it and send it to me. I told her that I might not want to use that, since I am truly happy to be ugly. With this spots on my face people stop harassing me and I am now free to roam the street, feed the cats, and even gone out at night to tend to more street cats without worrying someone will try to touch me.

Of course she yells at me. Any given woman will go to all length to preserve her beauty, and I enjoy being ugly. So to calm her down, I made the gel soap, use some (it’s really nice) and send the rest over to some of my best friends all over the world. I went to some free internet and send my brothers news about my cell phone, in case they know someone to repair it. Within a few days one of my brothers sent me his old cellphone, and the other told me to send my phone over so he can ask someone to repair it.

And all of the troubles that drove me insane in the past two weeks were settled. The gift from getting yourself a quiet time that allow your every busy brain to sort things out in its own way, without the need for the latest computer with Intel I7 attached to it.

To celebrate, the first number I dialed is the meanie boss. I quit my job after only a month.

I spend a few days after my jobless day answering the phone calls of acquaintances expressing how sorry they are that I left the company, because I have been truly a blessing for them to work with (compared to a miser); catching up to emails and re-educating myself about handcraft marketing.

Along that way I got to know one of the greatest woman in the world, who – almost single handedly – spay and neuter the entire street cats in Sioux City, Iowa, USA. From a home made shelter, she now has an adoption center downtown. I was utterly embarrassed and humbled when she told me how much she admire my work, while it is her who inspired me to follow her lead.

I read a lot about sewing and making soft toys, and along the way I meet a lot lot LOT crafter who happily share their gift to their will-be-competitor (that’s me). I have always interested in soft toys and when I study, I come to realize that there’s still a lot to tap into and expand instead of cursing my dormant shop.

But the thing I am most grateful of is: I can write. As much as I want, when I want, the way I want.

The only thing I truly regret is that I lost Chase. She left a huge black hole in my heart that sucks all the happiness whenever I remember her, and that would be: every time. Even so I do not want to forget her, not even learning to let her go. Every weekend I will go around the city, where backyard breeders and pet thieves would sell their victims, from the filthiest to the fanciest, with money in my pocket, hoping to find her. I still call out her name every meal time. I still prepare Chase’s food. I live as if she is still around, because she still is. Every day the hope is suppose to get dimmer, but I still want her back. Chase is a smart cat, so I prayed that she can go home. All over the internet there are stories about lost pet got found miles and years after, and if it happened to someone else, it can happen to me. I have never forget to mention her name in my prayers, asking that she be returned.

My mother put Chase on her facebook and invite many people who had lost their pet to share their heart and come together. Now she has even more friends than I am. It’s the gift of being 60 years old animal rescuer.

I figured that learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor, and attended to with diligence.

It’s not my words. It’s Abigail Adams (1744-1818) First Second Lady of USA and Second First Lady of USA. Like I said, God has great sense of humor, right down to the wordplay.

Now that I decide on what I really want to do, and cast away all my worries, things are starting to go on a straight line.

A few days ago on one of my sleepless nights, I read newspapers online, and read about so many environmental devastation all in a row, as if it’s been lined up for me to read, and I figured God calls me to step back into the fight, by giving back to what caters to my soul.

I wrote an open letter to the Minister of Bioenvironment, cc the President, to intervene with the plan to cut down Leuser conservatory rainforest in Aceh, that will render many orangutans homeless. I also wrote him that the local authority in simplemindedly decided to close down the only conservatory for Sun bears in Balikpapan because “it is not financially profitable for the region” and plan to build a new mall on that land. The entire city, all of them, sent out a protest for that plan, because the Sun bear is their much tenderly loved “Pooh Bear” (in Indonesia, Sun bear is called Beruang Madu – meaning honey bear) but those authorities, who call themself “people’s representative” close it down already, and even boasted on their powers when facing National Geographic’s camera, citing that “all those bear were crippled, it’s not giving us any financial value”

The Sun Bear conservatory had five bears, all of them had been poached and commercialized during one point of their lives.

I am not sure if they are going to listen at all. This country has no respect of other things but their own money, but I fight anyway. I am keeping my promise to Monday: I’ll just do what I can.

Then I learn about Diane Rowles in Bulgaria, and I see a part of me in her in the past.  I can’t donate money, because I am also struggling financially to keep the Whiskers’ Syndicate alive; but I can sew, and I recently learn about so very many new tricks. So why not put them into practice?

Hence what I am going to do: I am going to make blankets and toys for the dogs and cats under Diane’s care and ship them to Bulgaria (with the help of Animal Rescue Chase). Numerous times, whenever I reached out for a volunteer, I receive a note that it is impossible to volunteer internationally. Now I am going to prove, earnestly, that it is completely wrong.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal

~Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Two of the people I quote are Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson. You know what? they are enemies (at least politically). Thomas Jefferson beat Abigail’s husband re-election and become the third president of United States. Yes, God has great sense of humor.

I know there will be some emails asking why I decided to help other shelter while I myself am struggling. Here is the answer:

I am hungry, Diane is hungry, my cats are hungry, Diane’s cats and dogs are hungry. We are both oppressed, we are the same.  So why not?

If you cannot donate, but find it in your heart to help Diane Rowles, join me in contributing your used clothing, blankets, towels. I will turn them into toys and bedding for the animals in Bulgaria. Better yet, if you want to donate toys you made, or quilt, or whatever craft you are mastering, contact Laura Simpson (info[at]animalrescuechase.com) and she will make suitable arrangement for you.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate