Friday, September 27, 2013

Out of the Mist and into the Light

It’s said that whenever something good happens, something bad follows and that for every joy there’s a price to be paid. Life is bittersweet; happiness and sadness go hand in hand as if the overwhelming joy must always be balanced out by the
deepest sorrow.  So now, after the wonderful news I shared 10 days ago, it’s with deep regret and profound sadness that I inform you of the untimely and heartbreaking demise of our brave, sweet Ivor. Despite everyone’s enormous desire to help him and
everything we’ve been trying to make him feel better for weeks, he finally lost his ultimate battle, the battle for his life.

Losing a kitty is never easy, no matter how many times someone has already gone through the process or how many other
kitties they have. Saying a final good bye is always filled with disbelief, guilt and grief, even more so if a kitty was young and apparently healthy. But even the young and special ones can carry something we’re not aware of and when their time comes,
nothing we do can make the slightest difference. However sad it may be, the inevitable bad outcome simply can’t be prevented.

Ivor was one of three kitty siblings who were born in a house, to someone's pet cat which was carelessly
and irresponsibly left unaltered, and the entire litter became redundant when all of the kittens were just a few months old. They had been placed at the vet clinic, in a paid pension and remained there until their owner decided that she, in fact, didn’t want them anymore. They were
supposed to be sent to the country, where they probably wouldn’t live long, but by pure luck they were picked up at the last possible second and arrived at the shelter last June, confused and afraid of their own shadows.

Brothers Ivor and
Edan, two tabby toms, were extremely friendly and affectionate from the beginning, real love bugs which adored humans but weren’t even slightly socialized with their own kind. They were hissing and growling all of the time, with their golden eyes wide with
fear, as if they saw some looming danger no one else did. Their tuxie sister was shy and withdrawn, but nevertheless cuddly in the rare opportunities when she felt safe. All three of them were slender and it seemed they couldn’t gain weight no matter how much they ate, but
they looked healthy and as soon as they succeeded in overcoming their initial fear, they were all lively, joyous and playful, like any other youngsters.

Almost a year later, Ivor began to lose weight, slowly but surely. His behavior
didn’t change, though; he was playful and cuddly as usual, but hardly ate anything and was just becoming skinnier and skinnier with each passing day. At first, he was diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, but not much later it turned
out he also had a severe hemolytic anemia which was probably a consequence of some underlying autoimmune disease. He’d been given corticosteroids, vitamin B complex, OHB12 injections, Creon for weeks, but the drugs didn’t do
him much good and he continued getting weaker by the day. His symptoms frighteningly resembled those that little Kai had last summer and knowing that Kai passed away after almost three months of struggling against his unidentified illness, we
all had the ominous feeling that Ivor was going down the same path.

I won’t even try to describe the utter helplessness I felt while watching my beautiful stripey boy fading away right before my eyes, while nothing we tried
seemed to help. He wasn’t suffering, he cuddled and purred, he may not have even been aware of what was going on, but someone else was - little Kate was constantly by his side in his final days. Maybe she felt a premonition that something dreadful
was going to happen, maybe she wanted to heal him with love, but whatever the reason, she sat vigil with him until the end, just like a little angel that held his paw and soothed and kissed him while he was crossing over the rainbow. When nothing else could
have been done, her calm and loving presence must have meant the world to him.

Ivor died peacefully and quietly, without pain and without regrets, he just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. Too weak, too exhausted and too
tired of struggling, he was ready to be embraced by the light. He left this world easily and I want to believe he’s out there somewhere, finally free, loving and beautiful forever.

Until we meet again, fly with the wind, my little one.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wonderful News!

Frankly, a couple of weeks ago, when we published our latest update on the shelter repairs desperately pleading for help, things were bad to say the least and the overall situation seemed rather futile and hopeless. With 117 living beings to take care of every
single day, with many sick kitties in need of vet care, medicine, special food, with a pile of unpaid bills and living under the shadow of the constant threat of the roof caving in, we literally hit the wall and there were no solutions to our problems anywhere in
sight. We were already giving up hope that the horribly damaged roof of the auxiliary cat rooms would be replaced before the onset of winter, as raising the $4,000 needed for the roof replacement sounded like science fiction, no matter what we tried.

When nothing goes as planned, I guess that people inevitably begin to question themselves. Did we bite off more than we could chew? Is the idea of maintaining a cat sanctuary in Serbia totally unrealistic? What are we doing wrong? Is there a
point to posting yet another appeal for help if dozens of similar ones have passed almost unnoticed?

Watching all of the shelter kitties lying around, carefree and relaxed, blissfully oblivious to the dangers ahead was
truly heartbreaking. Lulled into a false sense of security in their home, they had no idea that their fairytale existence could be cut short at any time and I somehow felt I had betrayed them, offering and promising them safety I obviously could not
provide. I’ve been at my wit’s end for months now trying to find a way to get all of the kitties plus the shelter through another winter unharmed, but time was running short and each new day was just bringing bigger worries…
And then, when things were at their darkest and there was almost no hope left, a gift of incredible kindness and generosity from the other end of the world restored my faith in humanity. I’m thrilled to share the best news ever, the news that stunned me and left me breathless
– a wonderful lady who wishes to remain anonymous sent us the entire amount of money needed to replace the roof! The massive repairs will begin as soon as the weather permits and with a little luck, all of the Felix kitties will be warm and dry this winter! They will still
need food and vet care, and we’ll have to raise funds to buy gas for central heating, but our new roof, once finished, will certainly be able to bear the weight of snow and endure the upcoming winter and many more winters ahead. What a huge relief!

There are no words to express our immense gratitude to this wonderful lifesaver of the Felix kitties, but also to all of our supporters who appreciate our work, share our appeals for help, contribute with their donations whenever they can
and caringly show they believe in us! A huge thank you to all of you who are helping our dreams become a reality! It takes a village to make a difference, I know, but with true friends like you, the sky is the limit! And yes, we might be dreamers, but
dreamers of a better future!

"'It's impossible', said pride. 'It's risky', said experience. 'It's pointless', said reason. 'Give it a try', whispered the heart."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One Lucky Girl

All over the world, cat lovers are taking care of the stray cats in towns and cities, they feed them, clean up after them, vaccinate them, get them spayed and neutered and all of this while trying to keep a low profile in order not to attract attention. Although their furry
four legged protégés don’t harm anyone, they can be considered a nuisance for some unfriendly, standoffish neighbors and therefore are deliberately poisoned, intentionally run over by cars or sadistically tortured and killed out of sheer meanness. The problem is there
are always people who don’t just kill animals that cause harm, but they will kill any animal without any justification and it seems that stray cats are an easy target for their vicious spite far too often.

Bad people aside, the outdoor world is full
of hazards that kitties aren’t able to cope with, like heavy traffic, free roaming or off-leash dogs, toxins, pesticides, the list goes on and on. Even the most cautious and wariest of cats can be caught unprepared and no matter how dedicated and attentive their
caretakers are, they simply can’t protect them from everything. Kitties run into traffic while being chased, get trapped somewhere where their desperate cries for help can’t be heard, there is danger at every step. If they are surrounded mostly by cat haters
or otherwise intolerant people, then every day brings a new challenge, a new problem, a new struggle and the outcome is totally uncertain and usually bad.

Tili is one of the 17 kitties I took in three years ago, when their
caretaker got backed up against the wall after years of fighting for her kitties and when the situation that had been going from bad to worse for such a long time finally reached the crisis point. She had been trying to help the kitties coexist with people living nearby,
had been providing them with regular meals and vet care, they were neither hungry nor sick and not annoying in any way but all of her efforts turned out to be futile – a peaceful coexistence between humans and cats just couldn’t be reached no matter what.

All of the kitties were living in a joint backyard but they were sleeping in their caretaker’s garage where they would find temporary safety at least, but the kitty door was always open so they could come and go as they pleased. There was no
point in closing it shut; all of the kitties were endangered at any time of day and night equally but they were seldom seen inside all together and preventing them from entering the garage whenever they wanted would have been extremely risky. In such a hostile
neighborhood, it wasn’t unusual to see a cat fleeing from some terrible danger and arriving at her safe haven racing full bore, running breathlessly for her life and she mustn’t be let down by having to face a blocked passage where she thought she would
find safety. Things weren’t exactly perfect but are they ever? At least these kitties had each other and a nice lady who was keeping an eye on their well-being and fought for them the best she could.

However, unpleasant encounters their
caretaker had with intolerant neighbors simply couldn’t be avoided. Many cats had gotten killed or crippled over the years, verbal disputes were frequently getting physical and the worst was yet to come. On a nice day at the beginning of summer, two brutes
were hired by some rude, ignorant scum to round up all of the kitties, put them into bags and haul them away like living garbage. The friendliest and most trusting kitties were the easiest to catch, but even those who were more guarded and suspicious would
have probably ended up in bags if it wasn’t for one of the rare compassionate neighbors who raised the flag and notified their caretaker what was going on. She ran into the yard, screaming and swearing, she called the police and the intruders fled from
the scene but could easily come back at any time. Had the kitties stayed in the yard, their fate would’ve been sealed. They had to be moved away as quickly as possible.

Luckily all of them arrived safely at the shelter, a little scared
and quite confused but ready to move forward and get on with their lives. Some of the kitties quickly started to behave as if they were born here, for others it took some time to relax but they were surrounded with love and care and soon began to sparkle with
confidence and emanate a warm glow of serenity.

Tili is one of the calmest and most well behaved kitties I have ever come across, not a bit intrusive but affectionate, loving and nice, as if she is somehow grateful for the chance she has
been given and for the life she lives now. She must be seven or eight years old now; the only home she had known over the first five years of her life was that joint backyard where she must’ve always felt she was hated by many and loved by one. The hostility she
was able to sense took its toll – she walked around with cautious steps, didn’t approach strangers and wasn’t particularly people friendly or trusting. Since she has realized that nothing bad will ever happen again and has learned she can choose the room
she would sleep in while having a protected outdoor area to do whatever she wants, she's finally lowered her guard and become the mellow, loving kitty she has probably always been deep inside. She will never be annoying, or an attention seeker, but
her flowing movements and the light in her eyes clearly show the inner peace she feels and who she really is.