Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When Trust Replaces Fear

At the very sight of Kajac, all chubby, serene, sparkling and gorgeous, it’s hard to imagine that he was ever a neglected stray kitten - skinny, fearful and leery, seemingly hopeless and lost in a world full of prejudices, hatred and ignorance. He was probably born in the
sad stray cat colony that was apparently considered to be unimportant and annoying, part of a ragtag group of abandoned, homeless kitties which spent their days rummaging through garbage downtown, fighting over food scraps and trying to avoid cars,
dogs and cat haters. With no shelter and no caretakers, in a deeply hostile environment, they were surviving against all odds, with an utterly uncertain future, taking life one day at a time.

I ran into them totally accidentally, they
were not even close to my home, but all of them somehow became my responsibility the moment I laid eyes on them. Kajac has always been shy and distrustful and it took me quite some time to gain his confidence but once he began to trust me, he eagerly awaited me and even allowed some petting, of which he wasn’t really desirous. I was feeding them regularly, taking all of the adults I was able to catch to be spayed and neutered and trying to improve their lives, in the vain hope that strays which are taken
care of wouldn’t be regarded as such nuisances to people living nearby. I thought that my new four legged furry friends would finally be safe and satisfied right there, in their familiar surroundings, in the only place they knew, but I was wrong like many
times before.

How far will evil go? A couple of months later, the entire cat colony was poisoned and many precious lives were lost to a senseless act of despicable cruelty, performed by some sick minded individuals with no
conscience, who probably even considered themselves to be humans. I had already taken Kajac in weeks earlier, but after that horrific event all of the surviving cats promptly joined him in my garage. It wasn’t easy to keep them there, some were constantly longing to return to their old place but Kajac never showed any desire to go outside and was just plain happy in his new home.

He had probably contracted panleucopenia while living outdoors, but managed to
recover completely and I had the pleasure of watching him grow into the beautiful, powerful and magnificent tabby he is now. His coat is silky and smooth and his eyes seem to be changing colors under different light, sometimes they are pale green,
sometimes bright yellow and then sparkling golden green. He remained wary of new people, he used to shrink at the sound of any unknown voice, he would easily spook from sudden movements but he was clearly showing he liked to be close to
me, and even more so if I didn’t touch him. Not every cat is a cuddly lap cat and he certainly wasn’t one, but he was behaving nice and friendly, just the same.

When we moved to the shelter he discovered a whole new world, where he could do almost whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted and in a way that suited him. He has embraced his new life readily and gladly, quickly forgotten those few rules he had learned to respect and is completely in
his element here, just doing what he loves the most - eating, sleeping, soaking up the warm rays of the sun and wandering through the yard. Although I rarely have the opportunity to touch him now, there is still a flicker of acceptance and understanding in his
bright gaze and even from a distance the trust in his gleaming eyes tells me that nothing has really changed. There are few things more rewarding and heartwarming than watching an independent, powerful, cautious cat showing affection by slowly blinking at you
from afar…

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Biggest Problems Are yet to Come

This year's round of shelter repairs is currently well underway. Paving of the sheltered area under the eaves is finally finished and we’ve already undertaken our next challenge - fixing the only cat room in the front yard. Not until the workers began to
rip out the ceiling were we aware of its true condition and the real reason why that huge bump had formed in it months ago. The old saying “You never know what lies beneath” takes on a whole new meaning during repairs at Felix shelter.
Like all of the other auxiliary rooms, the one in question has originally been made of reeds and rammed earth, with random bricks scattered here and there. The ceiling sagged down because the roof was leaking water and not only that, the rammed earth and reeds
became wet and heavy, which has caused one of the beams carrying the weight of the roof to frighteningly bend down in the middle. That particular beam lies on top of the walls and supports the structural roof beams so it can't be replaced, as the entire structure
would fall down otherwise. Nevertheless, it can stay as it is without causing any additional problems. OSB sheathing has already been placed above, and an insulating layer of Styrofoam will be attached beneath. After that, special nets will be adhered to
both the inner walls and the ceiling and Bavalit, which is a kind of mortar, will be applied afterwards. New electrical installations of cables, plugs and wall sockets will replace the old ones and the best news is that all of the costs of renovating that room in the front
yard are covered. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning…

The biggest problem is the roof of the auxiliary rooms itself – half-rotten and cracked in places, it must be replaced entirely, not a single part of it is worth saving. The
only cat room in good shape is the last and the biggest one in the backyard, as it was built out of normal building materials just before I moved in a few years ago, so it’s still quite new. Raising enough money to replace the roof sounds like science fiction at the moment,
but if we miraculously succeed, there will be plenty of hard work ahead. Additional layers of bricks will be added onto the existing walls and after that, the wooden frame will be placed on top of the bricks to allow the concrete to be poured into it. Once the concrete
frame is finished, it will be ready to carry the new roofing. Roof beams and rafters will be set in place to make a new roof structure, which will then be covered with an insulation layer and the final step will be putting up new roof tiles. With this new roofing, all of the
auxiliary rooms will be ready for next winter.

However, if the lack of funds prevents us from accomplishing what we have planned, Felix kitties will be facing an extremely uncertain future. We can try and put a nylon cover under the old roof
that is already leaking in multiple places, hoping that the water won’t continue soaking the ceilings of the auxiliary rooms, but this patched up roof can’t reasonably be expected to endure another snow. The longer we wait, the greater the risk we run that this rotten
roofing will collapse in on the cats and everything will fall apart. It’s been said a long time ago that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…

Please, help us if you possibly can! Felix kitties look pampered and happy, without a
care in the world, but their lives will change dramatically if the roof above the rooms they eat and sleep in caves in. Some of them are very old or chronically ill, while others are very young, they have all been through a lot before they arrived here, and now the
question is just how many hardships these delicate, brave little creatures can endure in their lifetime. After all of the misery, fear, violence and hopelessness they were forced to experience, they have found their safe haven that gave their lives a completely new
dimension. It would be so unfair to let anything shatter their hope again…

Together, we can make their fairy tale last! Every little bit helps!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Still at the Beginning

Everything always takes longer than expected, and even the best-planned project usually takes at least twice as long as one thinks it will. In short, the sheltered area under the eaves that was supposed to be paved weeks ago is not finished yet; first the bad weather and
then the holidays caused a delay in accomplishing the goal. Until this new sheltered place is completely fixed, everything else will have to wait. There's so much more to be done and time is passing by way too fast!
Renovating the only cat room in the front yard will be a big challenge, as all of the furniture needs to be moved into the sheltered area under the eaves that the workers are currently working on, and all of the kitties are supposed to move there as well. It will
probably turn out to be much harder than we now imagine, in light of the fact that cats are not easily organized and most of them certainly won’t be delighted with the idea. However, despite all of the inconveniences, what needs to be done will be done.

Raising funds for shelter repairs never goes smoothly. I am well aware that only heartbreaking images of starving and mangled animals attract attention and that the rule “the worse, the better” is crucial to successful fundraising, but in a
very old-fashioned way, I don’t want to make things more dramatic than they really are. I won’t tell stories that Felix cats are dying of hunger, as they are not. I won’t tell stories that I finance them out of my retirement pension only, as I don’t. I would never
ever talk about giving up on them as I consider it utterly irresponsible and unthinkable. Telling the truth may not always be clever in a world full of sharks, but there’s no such thing as a half-truth, or a white lie or a justified lie, a lie is a lie is a lie.

Shelter repairs may seem boring and unexciting, there are no heroic actions or saving lives in a literal sense, Felix kitties are chubby and relaxed, so the conclusion drawn is that there’s no emergency here. But there is! Just a small part of the roof
was renovated last year. The ceiling of the cat room mentioned above is sagging, the outdoor fence posts are crumbling, the entire chain link fence is barely holding up and almost all of the walls on the property, which were originally made of bricks and
rammed earth, are soaking wet inside. Damp patches are forming both on ceilings and walls in the house and pretty much everything is falling apart. If the building starts to collapse in on us, no one here will be happy and relaxed anymore and we'll be in serious

Please, take a look at our project! We have accomplished a lot already, but more needs to be done; it's not only risky, but it’s dangerous to stop halfway through. Once we're over these hurdles and everything's been
repaired, the shelter will just need to be maintained in the years to come and the Felix kitties will be safe forever and we can continue saving lives.

Worth supporting, don't you think?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Untouchable

It is commonly believed that purebred cats live better and happier lives than mixed breeds but it does seem questionable at times. There’s no doubt that purebreds are beautiful as they have been selectively bred to get the appearance and characteristics the
breeders desire and even moggies which strongly resemble one breed are deemed highly popular. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that they will all find loving owners; if they fall into the wrong hands, their physical traits may just decide their destiny…

With her short blue grey fur with silver tipping and vivid, almost always green eyes, Falsika is the very picture of a true Russian Blue, with an overall dose of good looks. Other than that, I don’t know much about her since she was given to me
instead of my own grey cat two years ago, after maybe the worst adoption of the Felix kitties that one could’ve ever imagined.

Looking back, I still can’t believe how naïve and trusting I was at the time. Not that I didn’t have a
lurking sense of unease about the woman who wanted to adopt four of my cats together, but she was willing to sign the adoption contract and to give all of her personal data, she even sounded quite nice… With a heavy heart, I gave them up, only to face a terrible
reality some ten days later – instead of keeping them as pets, she was planning to sell them all! After a couple of nerve wracking, dramatic weeks and countless phone calls, I managed to get them back, only to find out that a skinny grey cat which was last to
arrive at the shelter was not the same one I gave up a month earlier.

She was malnourished and terrified upon arrival, the very personification of pure despair. She’d been cowering in the back of her cage for days and whenever I tried
to pet her she would just freeze, totally indifferent to a touch, as if the fear shut her down. The second I let her out, she fled in panic, disappeared in the yard and I literally didn’t see her for months, I would just catch fleeting glimpses of her sometimes, as if she
were a ghost. The Russian Blue mixes are supposed to be lively, playful and curious but she was anything but and there was no way to know if she would ever change.

Two years have passed, Falsika’s gained weight and
recovered physically long ago, but the scars in her mind have remained. Although she’s mellowed a little, she is still very cautious and shy and may never learn to trust; I don’t even want to think about everything she’s been through and only time will tell if she will ever
be willing and brave enough to accept a human into her life. However, it’s a good sign that a grey shadow with sparkling green eyes, which is usually approaching hesitantly and surreptitiously, keeps getting closer with each passing day…