Sunday, September 14, 2014

At a Standstill as Summer Slips Away

We’ve been pretty quiet lately and I guess that most of the people believe that no news is good news and there’s no need to worry – if something bad had happened, everybody would know. But is it so? Our random updates, too few and far between, are not even faintly
reflecting the biggest crisis the shelter’s been in over the last few years. It’s not that we’re being secretive, it’s not that we think all of our friends aren’t interested in what’s going on, it’s not really just a plain lack of time. Somehow, once everything is
explained in detail and said loud and clear, it seems even worse than when we keep our worries to ourselves and try to act as if we have only some insignificant problems that can easily and quickly be resolved.

I don’t even know
where to start. Shelter repairs are not finished yet due to the lack of funds and although we’re totally aware we must find a way to get things back to normal while we still can, we simply don’t know who to turn to anymore. We’ve already tried everything we could
think of to no avail, and if we don’t come up with some brilliant ideas right away, the future of the Felix kitties, particularly when the winter chill kicks in, is uncertain and definitely not promising.

The renovated part of the roof above the
kitties’ rooms in the backyard (which was being fixed this summer) looks nice and sturdy, but we’re still not able to purchase the gutters nor the metal sheeting necessary for extending the metal lower part of the roof over the path. Since we can’t manage the
water from precipitation without gutters, the entire backyard turns into a muddy, swampy mess whenever it rains and the next door neighbor’s garage is flooded every single time.

The metal part of the roof is another matter.
If we fail to extend it over the new path in front of the cats’ rooms which was put in with the sole purpose of preventing the cats from stepping directly into the mud when they come out of their rooms in rainy/snowy weather, this corridor that’s half finished already
will be useless. The idea was to make a sheltered place for the kitties out of what’s now a walkway, bordered by the walls of the cats’ rooms on one side and support columns and little dividing walls on the other, that will be enclosed with tarps attached to the new
roof during the winter.

Unfortunately, the metal part of the roof is lower and shorter than the new one and if we don’t extend it over the path, we’ll have an empty space at the end of the corridor, through which rain and snow will be blowing in and
none of the cats from the backyard will have a dry outdoor space when the weather is bad. However, if we manage to raise the funds for both the gutters and for the metal sheeting necessary for extending the lower part of the roof over the path, the new
corridor will truly be a sheltered place for the kitties, as it would be bordered by the garage on its other end. But to our big regret and despite all of our efforts, we’re still $1.500 US short, we’ve already exhausted all of our resources and we’re literally backed up
against the wall, with no idea how to complete this phase of the shelter repairs. Summer is rapidly coming to an end and it rains almost every day, so I don’t even dare to imagine what kind of weather the autumn and winter will bring.
At this time of year we should be thinking about purchasing the first tank of gas for central heating, but we’re still struggling with the renovations and time has flown by. The wire mesh above the front yard, or more precisely the chain linked fencing, has been loosened and
stretched again a zillion times and its links are now entirely too large to prevent kittens and skinnier adults from squeezing their way outside. As a consequence, kitties are happily escaping almost every day, running and having fun around the shelter for hours until I finally
catch them or somehow persuade them to come back home. Needless to say that with all of the current problems, chasing the runaways day by day is the last thing I need…

Is it even worth it to try and ask for help once again? We’re
immensely grateful for every single donation we’ve received for the shelter repairs so far, but there so much more to do and yet we’ve stopped halfway through weeks ago and no repair work has been done since! Please, step in with anything you can afford and help us
enable a three digit number of Felix kitties to continue living happy and safe in their beautiful forever home!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It’s the Spirit That Counts

The beginning of Shadow’s story is as equally sad and unjust as the beginning of any other story of a tiny, abandoned, abused wee kitty baby with the additional misfortune of being black who had obviously been unimportant and had gone unnoticed since
she was born into this cruel, insensitive world. Compassion appears to be hard to find these days; in these times of overall crisis and financial hardships, it seems that caring, unselfish people are as rare as unicorns and things are only getting worse. Hundreds if
not thousands of pets are being dumped into the streets, unwanted litters of owned queens are tossed into trash bins and only the most fortunate ones manage to cheat death at the last possible moment, when some noble person comes to their
rescue. But these lifesaving gestures of kindness and love are becoming infrequent and too few and far between…

Apparently invisible to many, Shadow somehow appeared in the flea market when she was maybe a month old at the
most. No one knew where she came from or what had happened to her. Obviously away from her Mom for a while, she was scared, emaciated, painfully skinny and couldn’t even eat solid food yet, although it’s questionable if she couldn’t or just didn’t want to because she
was already giving up. Oblivious and uncaring people at the market had been kicking her and stomping on her for hours, until one of the sellers scooped her up and hid her under their stall. where she spent a couple of days before I learned of her existence.

And then the real fight for her life began. The poor little muffin could barely walk, one of her hind legs was injured, she was stumbling and falling a lot and was spending most of her time just lying down. She was extremely reluctant to eat, so I
was force-feeding her baby kitten milk, of which she would swallow a little between struggling and spitting. No one could tell for sure if she was going to make it as things definitely hadn’t been looking exactly promising from the start. That’s when she
got the very first name of her own – our friend Kim named her Shadow since she was just a thin little wisp of black that was barely there.

A couple of days later she started vomiting and I quickly rushed her to the vet to see what was going on. It
turned out that her body temperature had dropped to a dangerous 35.4C but she exhibited no other symptoms, she had no eye discharge and her throat looked normal. Utterly weak and exhausted, she weighted only 190 grams, but she couldn’t be dewormed
while she was so fragile, as any deworming medicine could’ve easily killed her. After receiving warm infusions, antiemetic drugs and antibiotics she seemed to be a little better, but it was still touch and go whether she would manage to pull through.

Just when we began to hope her problems were coming to an end, she went into another major crisis in the middle of the night - she went totally limp, seemed unconscious and looked as if she were dying. Her body temperature was 36.6
C and it was possible that whatever virus she was fighting had already damaged her brain. The vet told me that even if she survived she might have some permanent neurological disorder, but as long as she was alive, nothing else mattered. At one point we thought she
was blinded in one eye and that her wobbly gate could be a consequence of some neurological condition, but the worse she looked, the harder all of us fought to save her. It may sound like a paradox but the old saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get
going” undoubtedly bears much truth…

Our tiny, starved and abused baby sweetheart beat the odds. As soon as she had a home and felt love for the first time in her short, sad time in this world, she learned that life could be worth living and
fought with all her might. Day by day, step by step she kept improving, slowly but steadily and after maybe two scary weeks of her exhausting, desperate struggle to live, the vet finally gave her the green light. Her eyesight is not damaged after all, her
movements have became flowing and she is now growing into a mischievous, naughty, joyful kitty which is very understandably spoiled rotten.

Shadow is approximately four months old and not solid black anymore;
her coat is scattered with white hairs but her sweet face, although more mature, is almost the same. She’s still living in the house even though she seems eager to go outside, but the wide world she expects to find will be limited to the yard. Extremely
friendly towards other cats, she is having a great time playing with her protector and teacher Tinker Bell and both of them are incessantly poking their black little noses into everything. But Shadow is not just a silly, playful kitty girl, she is a true fighter with an incredible and
intense desire to live, she’s a precious little creature who’s been to hell and back and proven to be tough as steel when it mattered the most. Maybe she remembers what she’s been through, maybe she doesn’t, but none of us here who have had the privilege to be by her
side while she was fighting her way up to the light will ever forget her amazing inner strength.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Our Valiant Survivor Finds Eternal Peace

Why does a beloved cat ever have to leave? I know, everything that’s born has to die, every story has a beginning and an end, no one lives forever and it can’t reasonably be expected that even those we deeply care for will always be by our side, but the heart
says otherwise. Yes, they will all leave one day but not yet, not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, not ever…

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Speki has crossed over to the other side. Or maybe it wasn’t that unexpectedly – he
must have been at an advanced age although no one had any way of knowing exactly how old he was. He had FLUTD and liver problems, his lymph nodes had been swollen since he first arrived at the shelter, he’d definitely been through hell and back in his supposedly
long but not easy life… But when some gorgeous furry creature, beautiful inside and out, tugs on our heartstrings, almost all objectivity is lost and perhaps we see just what we want to see and don’t even want to think about something we can’t bear to think of – and
that is, sooner or later, a sad but inevitable end of a fairytale.

Speki was one of Etela’s cats, one of those amazing fighters which managed to survive a devastating fire that destroyed the cat and dog shelter they lived
in a little more than three years ago. They witnessed a fierce blaze consuming the only home they knew while listening to the terrifying crackling sounds of a house in flames, the horrendous noise of exploding glass and the loud barking of hundreds of dogs
scared beyond scared. But there was no one to help, no one they could turn to; far away from any human settlement, the horror they endured was theirs and theirs alone. They must’ve been aware that dozens of their mates didn’t make it and died a dreadful
and painful death; they had no way of knowing that weeks later someone would come to their rescue. Discouraged and desperate, but not defeated, they were living one day at the time, ultimately determined to survive, to live and tell their story of anguish and
hope, a story that could be seen in their haunted but wise and forgiving eyes.

Unfortunately, for Speki and two other kitties, the tragedy they went through, the biggest tragedy that could happen to any living being, was not the last one.
Before several massive rescue missions took place, all three of them were picked up from the site of the fire and sent to some “wild” shelter near Belgrade in which, instead of finding safety, care and love, the only thing they found was yet another horror.
Three months later they arrived here, confused, emaciated, terrifyingly thin, full of worms and fleas, with ear mange and a fungal disease. Speki was in the worst condition of all due to his neuter surgery (done some time earlier), which left him with an infected
incision, tons of pus and in dire need of an urgent revision of his wound. Up until now, I still don’t know whose fault it was and I don’t care; the point is that no animal in the world should live out a real life horror movie twice. And that’s exactly what happened to him and
his two unfortunate friends.

When Speki finally reached this veritable safe haven, his life took a different turn, a turn for the better. No more pitch darkness in closed, dirty rooms, no more sadness and inhibition, no more
just dreaming of green grass and clear skies. He had all the open space he wanted, where he could do everything he could think of - sleep on the roof, rest in the shade, leap through the new fresh snow and enjoy the warmth of the heated cat rooms during the
winter if he felt like it. He had found his earthly heaven, where food bowls are always full, where tranquility rules and last but not the least, where someone cared. While obviously enjoying his new life, he gained a lot of weight and became a gorgeous and magnificent kitty
boy yearning to love and to be loved. Wildly affectionate and determined to cuddle whenever possible, he used to jump on people’s shoulders and climb on their heads, all of that accompanied by loud purring. Big and strong, he was sweet as can be.

But nothing lasts forever and even the happiest stories must end sometime. There were no warning signs at all, nothing to prepare me for finding him motionless and unresponsive one morning, still alive but barely conscious. I
rushed him to the vet with a dark feeling of impending doom, as I somehow knew he wouldn’t make it back. The vet confirmed my worst fear – Speki’s body temperature was 35.4°C and although he was being given warm infusions from the moment we
dashed into the ambulance, he was rapidly sinking into unconsciousness and we all knew his time had come. In those rare split seconds when he was himself again, he was trying to lick my hand, but those instants were getting shorter and more scattered and
we simply could not let him be dying for hours. On the vet’s suggestion, I had to make that heartbreaking decision every cat owner fears, the one that none of us will ever forget – to mercifully put him down. Even though I knew it was the final act of compassion and
the last gift of love, my heart shattered into a million pieces while I was watching him through tears as he was crossing to the other side. But however hard it may be, I feel we must take responsibility for those who can’t decide for themselves; I wanted him to pass
away peacefully, beautiful, dignified and loved until the end, and that’s exactly how he left.

The shelter doesn’t look the same without him, life is not the same. He was so special and so full of love that he simply couldn’t be
overlooked and I still can’t believe he’s not here anymore. Or maybe he is, in the warm breeze, in the deep blue summer night, in the quick rain shower, or in a sparkling rainbow? Someone with such a strong desire to live, astonishingly brave and with a heart of
gold, can’t just leave those he loved…

Fly free now, my shining star, my wonderful furry darling made of affection, warmth and light. Go bravely on and soar in total freedom until we meet again.