Saturday, July 5, 2014

Serious Problems with the Roof Replacement

Why doesn’t anything ever go easily?

As you already know, the massive renovation work at Cat Shelter Felix has finally started as of a couple of weeks ago. We kept silent as long as we could, wishing to pleasantly surprise all of our friends and
supporters with good news on the shelter’s repair progress. Everything seemed to be going along well, just as it should; workers had finished building the four small dividing walls between the support columns, removed the old roofing, lifted the new roof beams, made the
entire wooden frame, our hearts were already singing with joy, but then…

To our incredible disappointment, it suddenly and unexpectedly turned out that we have about one meter of empty space between the top of the walls
and the roof beams, through which all of the kitties can easily climb up to the attic and make it all the way through to the section under the roof of the main building. Once they’re there, the whole wide world is theirs; they’ll have dozens of ways to escape and happily
wander the neighborhood and curious as they are, they simply wouldn’t be able to resist the challenge. Our happy optimism turned into utter despair in an instant. We could all just sit down and cry.

Although we knew there would be some
gap (the pitch of the roof has changed due to the extended roof overhang that protects the walkway), no one could've imagined, not in their worst nightmare, how big it would turn out to be! Evidently, the problem is that the walls of the cats' rooms (and the
walls of all of the buildings on this property) are made of rammed earth, some reed and random bricks, so they were literally crumbling while the workers were lifting the beams and this enormous gap is the result.

All of the cats from
the backyard are now enclosed with tarps in a sort of improvised shelter between the side entrance to the yard and the biggest of their rooms, as the top wire mesh (chain linked fence) had to be temporarily lifted. Unfortunately all felines are escape artists and it will be
literally impossible to keep them from making their way out of such a weak enclosure for an extended period of time. The only thing we can do is to fill the empty space above the walls and under the roof beams with wooden cladding, if we miraculously
succeed in raising the funds to purchase all of the necessary materials - until then, we can’t dream of releasing the kitties back into the yard! We can't use bricks or any heavy material for that purpose because the existing structure, even strengthened, wouldn't be able to
bear the additional weight and everything will just come crashing down.

The old roof was in such terrible shape that it’s really surprising and a true miracle that it didn't fall in on the cats a long time ago. Parts of the new roof that
have been done so far look good and sturdy, but the mere thought of that gap, that big gap is like a dark cloud over our heads. At the moment, we have absolutely no solution to this problem. The kitties are already nervous because they’re accustomed to having
plenty of open space and all of them are definately not impressed with this restricted area they’re now forced to live in. While they’re constantly trying to escape back into the yard, which the most skillful ones have already done a couple of times, (catching
them wasn’t an easy task and no fun at all), workers are beginning to install the tiles. The insulation layer or more precisely the foil insulation is already in place (we’ll also have to put wooden cladding over the oblique roof beams to protect the insulation layer from tearing)
and in just a few days we’ll have a new roof above the kitties’ rooms. A new roof and a huge gap underneath.

As if all of this is not enough, new problems arose. The portion of the roof that’s being replaced right now is higher
than parts of the old roof that will remain in place, because the pitch of the new one has changed. At the end, if we don’t put two triangular wooden gables between the edges of the dual-pitched roof, nothing on Earth will prevent the kitties from having a
promenade all over the roof. One wooden gable should be made above the door between the two parts of the yard, so the kitties won’t be able to cross from one part of the yard to another over the door as they please. The other one is necessary to stop them from escaping
through the gap between the new roof and the old roof of their biggest room in the backyard, which is made of sheet metal and tiles but is much lower than the new one.

The only good thing is that if we by some incredible luck
manage to raise 2.300 euros needed to purchase the timber cladding, fill the gaps and thus ensure no cats could escape, all of them will have more space on the roof than they have ever had before. Their paradise will finally be a real paradise. But until then, this is a
complete disaster.

How long will we be able to keep the kitties in that improvised shelter, when they are incessantly trying to break out? They’ve hated it from the second they were rounded up and forced to be in there. What will happen
when they succeed and start fleeing in all directions? I’ve already caught at least a dozen of them who have breached what we naively believed would be only a temporary enclosure and I was forced to use a humane trap for the least approachable and most insolent. Not
one of them will step into the humane trap again, that’s for sure, and if they escape just one more time, there would be nothing I can do but to wait for the runaways to find their way back home, which they hopefully will, at one point…

If we fail to raise
around 2.300 euros as soon as possible, there’s a huge chance our long struggle won’t end well for the 117 shelter kitties. Workers will finish their job and go away and then what? Is it even possible to raise this kind of money on such short notice? Is there anyone out
there who believes it’s worth a try? Many questions, and the answers are sadly nowhere in sight.

I’m totally aware summer is a bad time for fundraising, with holidays, etc, I know people are strapped for cash. The sum of money we need is
huge and even more importantly, it’s for shelter repairs, not for saving a few mangled and abused animals, each of them with a sad story and heartbreaking graphic photos. But what we’re trying to do is to ensure a good, secure life for a three-digit number of
kitties! Is it not a vital and worthy mission? It’s also a very time sensitive emergency so please, help us with whatever you can afford and share our plight! Every little bit helps as all donations add up and ensure a bright future for these lovely creatures! Our kitties have no one
but us, and we all have no one but you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let the Pandemonium Begin!

Last autumn, when we happily received an incredibly generous donation which would enable us to cover the costs of replacing the roof of the auxiliary cats’ rooms, we couldn’t have dreamt it would take us so long to even begin with the new and hopefully final round
of shelter repairs. No construction companies were willing to start the massive repair work back in rainy September and we had no other choice but to reluctantly hold up, cross our fingers and wait for spring. A long, frigid, snowy winter arrived and left
again, followed by the unrelenting rain of an unpromising spring, and now after a couple of stressful and hectic months it’s finally time to get shelter repairs underway again.

Many things have happened in the meantime, we sadly
lost some of the oldest and sickest kitties in spite of trying to help them the best we could and doing everything that could have possibly be done. A few new sad, unfortunate and desperate furry ones arrived, and the time has passed almost unnoticeably. And yet
for the last couple of weeks we’ve been anxiously preparing for the biggest challenge since the shelter was founded, quietly and with no fuss, impatiently waiting for the weather to stabilize, with huge expectations and hope in our hearts.
Although it’s just the beginning of summer, the temperatures are already skyrocketing but more importantly, the sky is finally clear and blue and our long agonizing wait seems to be over. Let the show begin!

The existing supporting structure
wouldn’t stand a chance to bear the weight of the roof, so we had to build five strong support columns last autumn even though we haven’t managed to finish them completely. A new concrete path between the front entrance into the
backyard and garage was also made, instead of the old deteriorated path composed of soil, cracked concrete and decaying paving tiles. The entire path would turn into a muddy mess whenever it rained, so the cats that were coming and going out of their
rooms were stepping directly into the mud. We’re planning to extend the roof overhang in order to protect the new path below from precipitation, but that’s not all. Construction workers are currently building four small dividing walls between the
support columns which are supposed to help keep the new path dry, whatever the weather throws at us, and it also provides the kitties with some additional sheltered space which is so necessary during the winter months.

As always, funds are
the persistent problem and even more so because of the unexpected expenses of treating several seriously ill kitties; thus we found ourselves in a paradoxical situation of undertaking costly shelter repairs without trying to raise funds for the above. But
some things simply can’t wait if we are ever going to make the shelter into a livable and secure place for its 117 furry residents, so we are running into debts and huge ones again, that we can’t dream of paying off on our own. Long story short, the cost of the
roof replacement itself has been covered by last year’s huge donation, but nothing else has been and there’s a lot of work yet to be done while the weather’s nice.

No matter how hard we try not to endlessly bore you with countless appeals
for help and find the way to do what we have to do without begging around, we have no chance to finish such massive repair work unless our friends and supporters all step up. Anything that you’re able to give makes a huge difference and means the world and
life itself for a three-digit number of once abused and sadly forgotten little creatures! Even the smallest donations add up and help their safe haven be what it’s meant to be! We are all eternally thankful from the bottom of our hearts to each and every one
of you who’ve been supporting our work for years and never failed us in our times of need. If we all pull together, we can finish up this shelter once and for all and give these kitties the safe and happy home they so much deserve!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Another Regal Oldie Has Found His Peace

Darkness has fallen again and all the joy seems to be gone…

There’s nothing sadder or more heartbreaking for any cat person than saying goodbye to a long time kitty friend. No matter how hard one tries to think about the good times spent
together and the many happy memories over the years full of love or the long and fulfilled life the kitty had, the final farewell hurts all the same. Maybe, in time, some comfort will be found in knowing that a beloved furry creature has had it all, but the
harrowing emptiness most of us are facing after the ultimate loss of a four-legged friend and the huge void where a strong bond with that special small someone once was, can’t be easily – if ever - filled.

The kitty squad I initially brought to the
shelter when we moved here is sadly shrinking. The years are taking their toll now and many of those kitties are already struggling with the typical health issues of the elderly. Even the lucky seniors that are not showing symptoms of any defined illness are beginning to waste away and it’s just a matter of time before they reach the point from which there’s no return. And every single one of them takes a piece of my heart when they leave…

Kus Kus, my wonderful,
precious, gentle Kus Kus has gone to the other side. He passed away peacefully, with nothing to regret, more than two years after I brought him inside fearing his time was coming and wanting to shower him with love in his final days. Despite all of the odds, he didn’t
give up when he was in major crisis but lived to enjoy every moment and make this world a better place for the next couple of years. He entered my life as an adult, with half a tail and although I have never found out what had happened to him while he was living on
the street, the most probable solution is that somebody cut half of his tail off. He was nothing but skin and bones back then, a young, emaciated, dirty tom, extraordinary and justifiably wary of people. It didn’t take him long to mellow out and become
cuddly and sweet with me, but he remained cautious and distrustful of strange humans almost all of his life, even though he used to approach the rare ones he would find likeable. He wasn’t overly friendly towards the other cats but everything changed with the
arrival of last years’ kittens that were enchanted with him since day one and almost never left his side. Little Tink continued the tradition, he was her absolute favorite - a loving grandpa which was quickly fading away…
Old age was evidently catching up with him; he had liver and kidney problems, gastritis and inflamed gums. His teeth were in very bad shape and it seemed that his entire body, so fragile and so thin, was slowly breaking down on him. He was one of those noble souls who
never moaned and never complained and was able to find joy in the small things like sitting on the window sill just looking outside. He loved snuggling with the youngsters or resting under the blanket on my bed, while his wise, never changing eyes were sparkling
with affection and gleefulness. He behaved as if time had stopped and made us believe he’d live forever…

There’s not much to say of his final days – when he began withdrawing from me and hiding in the room we all knew,
even little Tink knew that he was ready to leave. But somewhere deep inside her kind, compassionate heart she also seemed to know that no one should die alone and sat vigil with him, with suddenly acquired wisdom and serenity, while he was crossing to the other side. If he
could choose what would be the last thing he would see in this world, I’m sure he would’ve chosen her sweet little face.

Run free now, my gorgeous, my special. One day we’ll all be together again.