REDEMPTIONS

As the cost of its complacency, this town was thrown back into lockdown.

So, we are back to being ninjas. Sneaking around distributing food to street cats who once again lost their living. Mothers who waited for us restlessly in her hideout so that she can continue nursing her babies; the sick and the old who would otherwise not stand a chance against Bandung’s week-long raging storm.

A message came at the end of our day, then. A street performer on his way home saw a sack thrown to the middle of the street and found two kittens barely ten weeks old in desperate need of help inside.
He has no money to care for the babies, he has no one telling him what to do, but he has his Facebook, so he came to us.
Two days later, the same street performer, living in a back alley of one of the most elite parts of town, saw four babies barely four weeks old, and again turned to us for help.

We have just taken a deep breath after three surgeries and thought we’d go on autopilot for few days, yet ended up with six babies who know nothing but following us all over the house thinking we must be their mothers. All of them has a severe respiratory infection, bad eye irritation, and parasites inside and out.
How do we care for six challenged babies, and still keep everybody else alive?

Two days ago we were caught up in the storm and were home late. We found everyone under the chairs and tables or had curled themselves in the corners, or under shelves and cupboards.

In a ramen box we left on the floor for the cats to play with, we found Comet nursing the six babies. She groomed them one after another. She put her protective arms around them, she wouldn’t let thunder and lightning scare them. She has no milk in her breasts, but she nursed them anyway. She’d cry and moan whenever the babies bit her now and then, but she lay there anyway.
Three months ago she lost her babies. She was just five months old then, and she loves to play. She has no idea what pregnancy was, so she took her babies for granted: climbing things, running laps across the shelter, chasing butterflies, and delivered two babies who lasted only for a week.

It took us days to console her, but although she is back to her old playful self now, there is always a part of her that seems to be missing.

The babies give her love a channel. The channel to fulfill her calling as a mother.
Comet gives the babies a chance. A chance to fulfill their lives as they were meant to be.
Life had taken their hopes.
Love has given them redemptions.

~ Josie

While I am glad and grateful that I didn’t lose my job in this latest lockdown, more cats need support as the diners, shops, restaurants, and markets, where they get their living, closed down.
Help me help more cats and help me raise USD 600 we need to survive another week, so I can use the remaining of my wage to help other cats. Please use following link to lend your hand.
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

A LIFE BRAND NEW

People, look at what your thousand Dollars have done.

Three days ago this girl was in immeasurable pain. She was alone on the street, without food, without water, without shelter.
She was scared, she was lonely, she was hopeless.

When a lady who lives in the area trapped her, things appeared to start to be better. At least she has food, though it’s a cheap one. At least she has water, at least she has a shelter, though said shelter was a dog pen that must have smelled like hell for her.

Unfortunately, she was brought to see an incompetent vet who made her condition worse.
When I got her, I knew I was racing with time. She spent so much of her life trying to survive with meager resources, and her body was exhausted trying to hold off infection. On the other side, the holiday was coming. Businesses close, and so will vet offices for at least one week.
She didn’t have one week. She didn’t even have one day.

Then came this matching challenge that will save her life, and while we are helping her on-site, you paved the way for us. You made our effort possible, you give this girl the chance to reclaim her life. You give her the means to rebuild her future.
The cost for her surgery is USD 350, and the cost for the scalded cat’s treatment is USD 300. Matching the challenge gives us an extra USD 350 to provide adequate treatment for her post-operation; it also gave us enough to buy food for the shelter. For two months now the cats only have enough to eat once a day, but with the remaining USD 300 from the matching challenge they can then have enough to eat twice a day, at least for this week.

Thank you so much, all of you. Thank you beyond what words can convey. Thank you for giving this little girl her life back. Thank you for giving her the chance she deserves.

~ Josie

We need USD 600 to provide food and amenities for 160 resident cats in our sanctuary; most of them have permanent disabilities or terminal illnesses. We ended last week with USD 300 (out of USD 400 from my salary) We hope you can still be with us this week and help us raise enough to deliver this little girl toward full recovery.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

HAIL MARY

A long weekend, then a week-long holiday. One case, then another, with each one, a death threat.

If I knew where to find him; if I knew where he moved to. If only I knew whether he is still in practice, whether he is retired.
For many, he’s a nutcase. A weirdo veterinarian who does as he likes; the one to whom standards matter less.
For me, he is a combat veteran, a medic that goes to the frontline with all the bloodbath, the bombs, the lack of things, the constant challenge for improvisation, the will to do whatever it takes if life can be saved.

He sped up on his motorcycle when I found a teen cat with a prolapse dying on the roadside, drove to a quiet corner by an empty storehouse, and performed surgery on his motorbike.
He is crazy, but my world is just as nuts.

Then I heard he got a divorce and moved. I got his address, but when I went there, he’s gone. I lost track of him since, and life goes on.

If only I had him now. If only he sees this girl with a prolapse, and the mother cat whose tummy melted off, and the girl with the bulging eye, another one with rotten teeth, and this God damned holiday that sent people out with a vengeance, after a year-long COVID restriction.

I can care less if vets in the whole town will ban me. I will keep calling, and asking, and asking, and asking.

A vet I haven’t meet for a long time told me his new number, a vet whom I least expected to answer. It’s a sign, so let’s call.
I found him at a dirty corner of town: old, tired, bedraggled, nearly homeless. Age and stress crept into him. Sometimes his hand trembles. Sometimes his sight falters.

I set him a table in my living room the next day. I told him what happened to the girl with intestinal prolapse. I showed him the mother cat with the raw tummy. I told him about a kitten with a megacolon. I pointed to a sleeping kitten with horribly foul breath and swollen gums. I showed him I still run a cat shelter. I let him roam around the house and have the cats running to him as if The Son Of God come to the world the second time.

I had a hard time telling them off so the vet can work on the sick and the dead.
I told him beforehand, however, that I haven’t got the money needed for all these patients.
He laughed loudly. His voice is croaky, but I heard him clearly that it doesn’t matter.
For him, life and cats are the only things that matter.
Then he sat down and did his magic.

Now the girl walks normally, eats normally, drink normally; she is no longer in pain. Full of hope, full of spirit.
The mother cat woke up less than two hours after surgery. Her belly looks like Frankenstein, and she is limping everywhere; but in two weeks she will have new skin, a new belly, new life.

The old vet texted me tonight, asking how his patients are doing. No vet did that before. I showed him photos of the cats. I told him the truth that our people and his cohorts denied him only because he is different; he put efforts above standards. I gave him the acknowledgment our people and his cohort refused to give, because when his fellow veterinarians give up, he has the courage to believe in the animal and keep trying.

I told him “Thank you”.
He is my hero.

THE ROAD NONE TRAVELLED (3/3)

The road lamp was dead, the street was empty. Still, it’s a six lane road; if she crosses the street like a drunken cat the way she did then, she’d be dead flat on the road before the end of the night.
We’re glad we saw her just in time to dodge. We’re out of cat food to disburse so we whispered that we’d check back on her.
Our sixth sense disagreed, something at the back of our mind told us she won’t even be alive if we passed her now, so we turned back and found her.

She was wet all over, and her fur was crusty. We’re too familiar with that pungent smell when I covered her with my jacket and picked her up. Sewers in our town smell that way.

We didn’t worry she’d squirm or jump, or bite, or scratch. She can barely hold herself together.
We cleaned various degrees of rotting algae from her when we laid her down on a blanket at home; fermented leaves, rubbish.
She even has snails and leeches on her.

Her nose too runny to breathe, so she catches air with her mouth, even though it must be painful with all the sores that she drooled so much, it dripped all over her chest.

Waterless bath for the night; we set her up on a new, thicker, warmer blanket and promised when morning comes, we’d give her a warm bath and she’ll feel so much better.

Except that the skin on her tummy sloughed off at the run of warm water. Before we finished gaping, the skin on her hind legs fell into the sink.

OK, no bath. We rinsed her right away, dried her up, and call the vet.

She is raw from the belly down, and both her hind legs. She pooped out of stress into the sink and her faeces is full of teeny weeny wiggly rice: tapeworm. We haven’t got the chance to rid her of an entire planet of fleas. We were so horrified for a moment we didn’t know what to do.

At least, while waiting for the vet to come tomorrow, we can try and feed her warm broth. Slowly, she finished two egg yolks. At least, her eyes brightened up a little bit, at least she can stand, though she cannot walk. We set up a heating pad so she can stay warm. We combed her to remove as many fleas as we could. We checked on her every hour, and if she soiled herself, we clean her as gently as we can so that her raw tummy will not get an infection.

It will be a long, rocky road ahead for her. It will be an arduous fight for survival. Overcoming her malnourishment, beating all sorts of parasites, making way for healing.

But after this long journey ends, there will be life.
After the darkness that trapped her, there will be light.
After the despair, there will be hope.
And when she can finally lift her head again to see us straight in the eye.
She will find love.

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Within one week we have three urgent and important cases that require surgery. Aside from liability to pay for the service rendered, we have to provide food and post operative treatment so that our new refugees have the chance to live long enough and enjoy the better days they deserve.

I am grateful for a close friend who offered to match USD 500 in donation to pay for the remaining two surgeries. I hope we can all benefit from this matching challenge that gives us a chance to help two cats with half the effort. I hope we can all make the first step toward the two cats’ better life; the life they have been denied simply because they do not belong to anyone.
I hope we can whisper in their ears, that from this moment on, they belong to The Whiskers’ Syndicate.

THE ROAD NONE TRAVELLED (2/3)

The darkness was dying; the silence will soon break. It’s time to go and see the colonies. But this head, these arms, these legs, these eyes, this spine, this whole body, will not move. For two weeks, I have gradually lost the use of my arms, then my finger, my body soon after. I felt numb in one part, then the other. Tonight, I can no longer type on my cellphone. I can no longer hold anything without trembling like an old pop with Parkisons.

It’s just me. The pressure to produce enough to keep the shelter alive. Cases after cases of ill cats who need urgent and immediate veterinary intervention. The society that won’t back down, and constant peer harassment for being different. At this time of great need, a pledge is spoken but not done; twice by the same person.

Internet is not working, and when the internet eventually works, the computer crashed. Loans due, bills need to be paid.

People provoke me until they bring out my ugly sides, then play the victim when I went there. My friend in Messenger: There is an order! Can you make this and that? Send me photos of this thing! You have to react to a customer, or they can file a complaint! These people are our first customers, so let’s make a good start!

I know you are overworked, BUT this and that and whatever.

When I did not answer (I can’t!) Sheilla had the messages. Please tell Josie to go online! Please tell Josie to answer the message! Don’t tell her, gently ask her! I know she is tired BUT, she has to do this and that and this and that.

We had a nasty row about a friend of mine terrorizing her into telling me to go back to work, and it sparks the fire that blown the time bomb of pent-up anger inside us. Then, we decided that we will no longer be together.

Then another message from a stranger. A young man from a family of good financial standing told us that he took a kitten with intestinal prolapse in front of his house. His mother took the kitten to the vet, and the vet gave her some medicated water to spray on her raw intestines with a promise that the intestine will retract by itself. When the intestine would not go back as promised, they knew they’d better look for someone who knows what to do.

Sheilla and I went to pick up the girl, our last project as a team. The guy showed us to the pen where her mother kept the kitten, but it was him who annoyed us. She has gold all over. She has the best manicure. She has salon hair. She looked at us as if we were garbage, she closed her mouth and pinched her nose looking at the kitten, and when I walked over to take the kitten, she whispered to her brother, but loud enough for me to hear. “Won’t you wear your mask? Low lives like them bring nothing but diseases. They must have smelled so bad, and she might give you Covid!”

And then “Don’t offer them money! They will rob you but won’t care for the cats! Let them do it by themselves!”

For a prickly bitch like her, I had the perfect answer, guaranteed to make her cry, but the kitten endured the pain for so long already; I didn’t want her to suffer any longer. I took her, put her in our bag, and went off.

The brother contacted us several times afterward to offer financial assistance in exchange for photo evidence. I gave him pictures but never accepted his money.

For her, I will use my hand again. For her, I will not wait. For her, even if I have to crawl, I will drag myself. For her, I will make myself type again. I will stand again; I will work again. For her, I will fight again.

https://www.paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

THE ROAD NONE TRAVELLED (PART 1/3)

Two a.m; and the clock silently moved one minute. Soon the chaotic world on the other side of my window will come to and end, and so will my mind; just like this little girl beside me who went ahead before us. It’s been a long day for me, even longer for her.

She had just lost one eye, yet I can feel her breath still, and calm, and serene.

Tonight is the eve of Eid Al Fitr, one of the biggest festivals in the Muslim world, so their entire earth blew with boom and bang and prayers and praises to their Lord all night long. When the day turns, the whole universe will die for at least a week. No banks, no business, no market, nothing. Towns will be empty, villages and countryside will come to life as families come together from near and far to spend time as one again.

It’s all the reasons I had to get her to surgery today; whatever the cost, with or without the means; because it’s beyond abuse to let her wait longer after what must have been a lifetime of pain in her eye. Besides, life is always punctual; when it’s gone, it’s gone.

And I hate to lose.

Tomorrow when everyone takes their leaves, we’d be working. We’d be cleaning shop and open doors. We’d greet people and sell things they don’t get to buy before the long holiday came. We’d kill our great expectation that this year, we finally can take a breath like anybody else after a straining year made impossible by a long-standing pandemic. We’d put aside our tiredness, broken backs, and twisted muscles.

But then we’d see her see; squinting to the world with that one bead of an eye she has left. We’d see her walk; we’d see her jump, run, climb.

We’d see her reach the top of her world, and we’d see her watch all the life she has before her.

We’d see her trot with confidence as she embraces her better future. I take a deep breath, and let go. She is worth all that trouble.

~ Josie

Until the day of the surgery, we managed to raised USD 360 of USD 495 we had to pay for Mattea’s treatment. Working overtime for the whole week gave us enough to feed everyone at the shelter, the colonies we take care of, and some more on the street who found restaurants/diner/market/landfill where they count their lives on closed. While we are grateful for the grace period given to us considering the long holiday, we need to raise USD 135 by June 10. If any of our readers wish to help, please go through this link: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate