LONG JOURNEY HOME

It was mid-January when I read about a cat shot and left in a box, with rotten legs and back. It was too late; the vet had to remove her rotting half to keep her alive.
I told my long-lost friend I’d take the cat, but it wasn’t until March that I got more news about her. Perhaps the recuperation process takes longer than it should; maybe it’s the whole clinic and their doubt and objection that a cat that costs millions to the rescuer would end up in a shelter.

It’s not the tenth time people look down on me, despite my reputation, yet none of them want to adopt the cat themselves, citing work, lack of funds, lack of time, family, all the cliches.

Then my friend got COVID, so Fortune the cat stayed in a small pen alone in that overfilled, cramped clinic and joined Whiskers’ Syndicate in June.

Though only half of her remains, Fortune the cat keeps all her nine lives. She appointed herself the new boss of my petshop, running across the whole place faster than a speeding bullet and making everyone know she is in charge and giving commands. She shook the world when one day she slipped out of the door to have a picnic on a patch of green grass just by the corner. A woman screamed in horror seeing her, caught in hysteria, while Fortune and I watch the stupidity unfurl with raised eyebrows.

But for the ultimate safety, Fortune is banned from taking a walk even to the front of the house. She has toys, she has food, and she finds a new kind of sport: chasing flies across the shop.

Fortune and I have long arguments about it, but like it or not, she uses diapers so she won’t drag her exposed bottom in the dirt and get an infection, and I don’t need to mop the shop every three minutes because she leaks everywhere, causing the whole shop to reek of urine.

When no one is watching, though, we’re just two girls trying to get by with life. I’d sit on the stairs, and she’d climb over, and we’d talk like best friends. We’d talk about how different we are and how the world outcasts us just because we are different.
We also talk about how her devilish, commanding presence draws the strings of many stiffened hearts. The couriers who come and go to pick up and deliver goods would crack open and tell us about their cat(s), guys who got mocked because their inclination toward cats is not macho. Lady drivers told us they always carry a bag of cat food whenever she is on duty (we gave her a free bag of food for our friends out there). Two best friends, both motorbike taxi drivers, hide packets of Whiskas and sneak a minute or two to feed street cats in every parking lot they visit (they also have a few bags for our parking lot cats).

When it’s time to call it a business day, I leave Fortune in the shop. She doesn’t want to get along with others, and others are irritated by her mega ultra brattitude. She chooses a cat carrier as her flat, so I lined the carrier with warm fleece, provide plenty of food and water, and she’d stay in the shop with our outdoor cats, travelling strays, and a few wildlife creatures, spending the night in the warmth of my shop.

Tomorrow is another day. So good night to all, and to all, a good night.
~Josie

There are 160 other cats like Fortune in this little house on the hills, who try to leave their horrific past of abuse, neglect, hunger, and disease. Help me reverse their bad luck and keep them safe, cared and loved. paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Roof update

It seems like I will have to replace the fiberglass roof sooner.

Now chubby and round, Deliso stepped on one of the cracks on the roof and fell right through. Though I am a bit concerned about his bleeding jaw (he slammed his jaw onto a table on his way down), I am glad he is otherwise all right.
Tonight we can all see the full moon from our laundry room. We can all feel the fresh, cool breeze and gaze upon the stars all night long.
It will be warmer in the morning, though, and cats won’t be able to cozy up under the sun because it will be too bright and hot.

But the best thing is: we matched the challenge because all of us put our efforts together and brought the grassroots magic of The Whiskers’ Syndicate to the cats one more time.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to continue caring for these deserving cats. Thank you for helping me protect them from the elements and the dangers that entails. Thank you for giving them one more chance to have a safe, secure home.
Thank you.
I am now going to post a vacancy for a repairman, so no more cats should fell down the roof like Santa Claus, much less break their jaw on their way down.
Thank you.

~ Josie

If you missed the chance to match the challenge, there is still time to go to paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate to help me bring Deliso to see a vet and make sure he’s all right after 2.5 m (8.2 ft) crash landing (we can replace the broken plates later)

The roof over our heads

Spending the whole month trying to save a bunch of supermarket cats, it’s time to go back and care for my own.

There is guilt creeping when I open the front door and see them lined up waiting for me to carry them. I used to pet them so often. There is pang of shame when they follow me in droves as I refill their empty bowls.
There is anger because by helping others, I neglect my own charges to some extent, but should I pretend not to see the clear and present danger that was about to befall those supermarket cats?

A few month ago, Deliso, our community cat mascot, had intestinal prolapse. There was drama when we tried to catch him. There was saga when he tried to maul everyone at the vet clinic for trying to help him.
Long story short, he decided that he doesn’t want to return to his old place, and is now living on my roof. He particularly enjoy watching the world go round down in the house from the fiberglass roof atop the laundry room.

If only he knew, that fiberglass roof is quite old. Some parts are dried out and cracked, and other places have holes as big as a human fist. We tried to fix the roof as much as we can, but sooner rather than later, the roof has to go.
We are in Summer now, but when the Monsoon comes in October, the electricity wires below that fiberglass will be rained on, and so will our washer, our laundry dryer, the cats’ heater, and the water pump.

160 cats and kittens are at risk to be popcorn.

Looking at those cracks seeking for hope, or maybe just chance, an old friend came by and, learning the situation, offered to match the next USD 500, Dollar for Dollar, if made by the end of the week.

Can you help me match the challenge, so the cats can keep their home safe?
╦ťJosie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

HOMECOMING

Close to two years under siege in these endless lockdowns, I decided that I had enough.
I had to throw away a cardboard cat house Sheilla made after its resident kitten died of Panleukopenia, two days after I brought him home.

A girl from the slum nearby ran off and dragged her mother along, asking her to ask me if she can have the house.
In shortage of clear mind, I told her I would make her a new cat house if she would give me time and come back the next day.
When she came the next day, I only have my two hands and hopefully good enough memories of how Sheilla made all our cat houses.
I took her board cutter and started working; while more of her friends came to watch over time. Though these girls come by often to buy cat food and chat, it’s becoming more uncomfortable; I am not quite a people person, but the sooner I finish the labor, the sooner I can return to my comfort zone.

As I keep going, I learned that they had found a stray mother cat who gave birth in one of the girls’ front yards, and they had meant to take that thrown away cat house for the mother. I learned that they have been taking turns using their pocket money to buy food for the mother. When no one has enough, they put together a bit of what they have and buy food together.
Kids are too noisy for me most of the time, but those are the reasons I always open my door whenever they dropped by, no matter how busy or how tired I am. These girls draw courage from I don’t know where, picked up street kittens they found on the street, and see me ask what best to do. They don’t have much, and most of the time, the cats just ended up roaming on the streets around their houses, but they care for them as much as they can, and that’s a lot better than following the example of their ignorant parents whohave done nothing in the face of animal suffering.

Every once in a while, one of their parents can do nothing but comply when their children drag them to my place and ask them to buy cat snacks, food, or medicine. Every time it happened, I’d ask the parents to help their kids become the better generation, give them my number, and ask them to call me when the cat is ready for spay or neuter.
With one last breath, however, I showed them the house, asked them if they want an extra window (they said, “No, because it’s cold at night”), and ask them if they are willing to pose for a picture with their new cat house.
Kids are too noisy for me most of the time, but just that time, I found the peace I have lost somewhere during the strenuous lockdown. Just that time, I found hope knowing that, when I am gone, there will be others who take care of the animals.
They treated the cat house like treasure. The quiet and empty street suddenly turned merry and bright with their cheers and goodbyes and thank-yous.

Back alone, cleaning up, I heard my door opened.
The youngest girl, the one with curly hair in the red shirt, stood alone.
I thought I’d ask her if she needed something else, but she beat me into it.
“Big sister, thank you for the cat house. May God bless you abundantly, and may lots of people come and buy from your shop”
Then she closed the door behind her to catch up with her friends.

~ Josie T Liem

These girls (and boys) do not have much. Most of the time they only have enough to buy one pouch of cat food (the cheapest one is 50 cents for a saucer of wet food), but they happily share with the many street cats roaming around their slums.
I don’t have much. Most of the time I have to beg for donations before I have enough to buy cat food for the sanctuary residence. Unlike US, or England, or Europe, my government does not hand out cheques to put us into lockdown. We have to figure out our own survival, which is why many of us, including me, choose to keep working, or we won’t stay alive.
Though I have such a wonderful time with these kids, it breaks my heart because I, an animal rescuer, cannot help them more than making them cat houses.

If you can, please help me help them care for stray, neglected, abused, sick cats on the streets.

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

CLOSURE – EXTENSION

She is the oldest, sickliest, most vulnerable, yet the most elusive. I mean, one minute she was by my side, I turned around for a little bit for another cat, and the next minute, she was not there.
So when the supermarket finally closed permanently on July 21st, she was among a few I haven’t been able to trap, spay and relocate.

If God ever listened to prayers, though, a neighbor gave me a flyer that said the campus next to the supermarket would be turned into a vaccine center starting July 23rd.
So there will be people; when there are people, there will be food. When there is food, there is life. I was not fond of the idea, but Covid, one weird way or another, is buying me some time.

I come there still, at noon when even my shadow is afraid of me. I bring the best tasting food I can afford. I bring cooled water to quench the scorching heat that marks the beginning of summer.

Then one of those days, I asked her if she would go to a better place. A quiet park with large trees and grass to roll around. Birds chirping in the morning, gentle wind, maybe some friends.
She looked at me for a second and went back to eating.
Eventually, she entered my backpack and let me transport her to the nearest clinic. After one week, she traveled one more time, to her new paradise.

Slowly, she is getting better. No mites, no fleas, no worms. She gains weight, and her eyes glimmer with many stories.
I’ve watched her playing hide and seek with her imaginary friend. I have watched her climbing trees, something she would never have been be able to do in her old place. I have seen her enjoy the cool breeze on the lush green grass instead of the previous scorching hot pavement.

She is still that same old ninja grandma, but she is no longer a beggar. She is the master of her own life, in full control of her own fate. In a home where she truly belongs.

~ Josie T Liem

Thank you. Without your support this old grandma wouldn’t have found a new home to enjoy proper retirement.
If you think I am doing a good work, please help me keep it up.
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

CLOSURE – ANOTHER UPDATE

We’ve got only two days before the store will close, and it rained all day. All of a sudden, everything becomes irritating. The question remains: whether I just run through the rain and grab anyone I can find; or wait until the rain stops so I can catch and relocate more cats.

Every time I made up my mind and put on my raincoat, something comes up. Baby wants milk; kitten wants chicken. Someone kicks over a dry food jar; telesales made phone calls and sent messages incessantly.

I found myself running through wet roads and jumping over potholes at dusk as soon as the last drop of rain touched the earth. There was no one there but a mother and her three babies. She is friendly to everyone, even though not everyone is friendly to her. She would wait near the entrance with eyes full of hope, though sometimes those hopes turned hopeless.

With three babies, she can’t just pack up and leave, just like other cats. She can only sit in the corner, babies stowed away not far behind, and wait for her only hope.

Her only hope is three pouches of food in my hand. As gratitude, she will allow me to pet her. When I try to go near her children, she will follow me: walking criss-cross and even slipped between my legs.

But I need to get to her babies; I need to pick them up and move this little family to a safer place.

It’s personal. Throughout this second lockdown, people are dumping cats on the streets and parks and markets, and most of them, starting with the most fragile innocent kittens, meet their cruel death – slow or fast – while those who dump them live happily ever after.

I set up my trap. I put a plate of food on the floor, and wait.
When she eats, I throw a blanket over her then get her into the carrier. Her babies are next.

I waited just in case other cats will show up, but there were none for the rest of the evening.
Currently, they live in my storage room. One or two months from now she will start weaning her babies. Then I will have her spayed and released to a nearby park.

Hopefully, tomorrow will bring a better result, but for now, I am glad this little family now stands a chance for a better future.

~ Josie

A supermarket near our sanctuary is closing, and over twenty cats will lose their living. To date, I have trapped nine, spay/neuter six, and released everyone to a quiet park accessible from home. Please help me save more lives before the store site becomes off-limit to the public: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate