Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Dear friends, we wish you all a very happy, prosperous and healthy New Year! May the sunshine of hapiness always shine above you! May you have a great year and a wonderful time ahead!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Miracles Do Happen Sometimes

Although collars are a necessary accessory for dogs, they might be somewhat problematic and of questionable use in cats. A lost pet who is still wearing a collar and tag bearing the owner’s name and address on it can easily be identified and reunited with its
owner, but unfortunately most people don’t react at all when they see a cat wandering around with a collar – they usually think it’s someone’s pet cat that will return home shortly, on its own. Many cats do not tolerate collars and they would do
anything to get them off, including hours of clawing at them, throwing their bodies against the walls, rolling on the floor and yowling in their owners’ faces. The collar itself can be helpful in identifying a kitty, but cats with collars can also get terribly stuck and
literally hang themselves trying to get free. A safe cat collar that is a quick release one, minimizes that risk and is therefore highly recommendable, as it easily comes open if a cat gets caught on something.

The worst-case
scenario occurs when a kitten or a young cat is abandoned and still wearing a collar. A collar does not expand as the kitty grows and if it’s not regularly checked and loosened as necessary, it can grow into the kitty’s neck. It causes a gaping wound that is prone to infections
and is always accompanied by excruciating, constant pain. Ogrlicar knows everything about that kind of pain; he experienced abandonment as a youngster and had been wandering around for months, with the collar too tight and embedded in his neck.

He was about eight months old when I ran into him for the first time. Emaciated, skittish and scared, like any other stray cat I’d been rescuing for years, he in contrast to all of the others, was wearing a collar. In spite of the collar, he was obviously a
stray, he’d been roaming around abandoned and all alone for quite some time. Betrayed once by someone he trusted and loved, he was impossible to catch, as if he decided not to approach a human being ever again. After the ultimate betrayal, it is
not easy to learn to trust again and Ogrlicar wasn’t even willing to try. He was fearful and distant and it took me almost a year to be able to touch him. By then, the damage was done. His collar had already grown into his neck, leaving him practically unable to
swallow food, in pain and total misery.

He was taken to the vet’s immediately, his collar was removed, his wound cleaned and a medical treatment with antibiotics and pain control medication started. I’d been putting a special ointment for wound healing onto his neck for weeks and he was slowly recovering. His wound didn’t heal fast, but it healed properly. And in these times of trouble and pain, he finally accepted me and the strong bond of trust and
affection has formed. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Ogrlicar is now a four-year-old tom, at full size and strength. He is cuddly and loving with me but not very friendly when there are other people around, as he has not
yet completely overcome his initial distrustfulness. Maybe the final trace of his misfortune is his shyness in the presence of strangers, but he is getting more relaxed with each passing day and is otherwise very self-confident. He has finally become what he was always meant to be, a powerful, dazzlingly beautiful tom that shines with a youthful energy and strength while thriving in a place where he feels secure and loved. He is living the kind of life that every cat deserves, a life that he could only dream of. He has come a
long way from the cold city street where I saw him for the first time, and the joy on his face, the sparkle in his eyes and the smoothness of his healthy gait are the best proof that there’s always hope.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We wish you all a very merry Christmas! May magic fill your days all your dreams come true!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Never-ending Issues of Shelter Repairs

It seems like we’ve been repairing the shelter for ages, fixing things up and making some changes, but after eight months the repairs are nowhere near completion. If we had had more money from the beginning, repairs would have probably gone better and
faster, but there’s no point in lamenting over the past. We were just trying to make the best of what we had and no one could possibly do more.

Instead of replacing the entire roof, which would have been a very costly, but only permanent solution, we managed to install additional supports and strengthen the roof of the main building. We hadn’t even touched the roof of the auxiliary rooms in the backyard. And now, when the tremendous amount of snow we recently got
started to melt, it's turned out that the roof of the food storage room has begun to leak. Some of the roof tiles have been torn off due to extremely high winds and a large puddle of water has just appeared on the floor. The ceiling was soaking wet, the walls were soaking wet and all of the bags of dry cat food and cans were covered in water droplets.

The sudden amount of water released by the melting snow was enormous and I’ve spent days sucking the water out.
Frankly, I knew something bad was going to happen, it always does, I just didn’t know what or when.. Boy, was I right! Not such a great way to start the holidays.

Construction workers who were inspecting the roof told me that
the entire structure is worn out and some of the roof rafters and beams are cracked and half-rotten. The old roof tiles, partially covered in moss, are moving and sagging. The entire roof of the auxiliary rooms is in the exact same shape the roof of the main building was in a few
months ago! It’s not really an unexpected discovery but nothing can be done now, so the roof will have to try and hold up until next spring.

And that’s not all. Just when everything was going so well, the rain started and the downpours quickly
turned the backyard into a swampy mess. Brilliant. I’m now becoming sadly aware that we still have a long way to go before the shelter is fully repaired. An old house is obviously a bottomless pit and problems appear one after the other, but rather than indulge
myself in hypothetical scenarios, I’ll think of some way to fix everything once and for all as soon as possible.

Not all of us are worried. While I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what to do, my intrigued kitties are
wandering around inside the food storage room, climbing wet carriers, ignoring puddles of water on the floor and enjoying entering the forbidden zone…

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The True Beauty Resides Inside

It’s quite difficult to take good photos of black kitties and capture their beauty. Moreover, it’s definitely not easy to truly see the exquisiteness of their faces and their facial expressions are also hard to read. Although most of them have amazing, astonishing personalities, black cats are often stigmatized and surrounded by superstitious stupidities and the fact they usually appear somewhat faceless in the photos doesn’t help in debunking the false myths.
Negro now has a unique physical trait – his left ear is kind of crumpled. He had a hematoma on that ear last summer and surgery was performed, but his ear has fallen down and remained bent in half. It must have been very painful while his ear was swelling.
Since the infection has been resolved he obviously hasn’t been feeling any pain at all and his problem is now purely a cosmetic one. However, he didn’t lose any of his charms as there’s beauty in asymmetry, and it’s said that scars just remind us of where we’ve been,
they don’t have to dictate where we’re going. Negro, my special and lovely boy, is going down the right path.

He was only three or four months old when he appeared on the roof of an auxiliary building, and was entirely too scared to
jump down on his own. I had to get him down and bring him home, where he found two friends of the same age – Tigi and Treca Sreca. All three of them had been picked up over just a few days and they quickly became inseparable. Once he’d settled in, Negro
wasn’t really eager to go outside and even when he did, he was very distrustful towards people and didn’t come close. Being black, he was always at special risk on the street and his cautiousness helped him survive. On the other hand, he was a completely different
cat when he was inside – kind-hearted, loving and rather talkative, a real sweetheart.

Time goes by and it’s been eight or nine years now since I saw him for the first time, a frightened little boy, all alone and confused in the cold cruel
world. He might have forgotten where he started from, yet he’s still shy and doesn’t think that all people are trustworthy. Since we moved to the shelter, he became estranged from his kittenhood friends, probably because there’s so much living space and that’s
allowing him to finally return to his true solitary nature. But he is also cuddly and sweet, a big beauty in a small package, whose gleaming yellow eyes are shining like two little suns. And everything that’s worth knowing about cats is right there, in the bright
yellow gaze of an imperfect black kitty with a floppy ear.

Someone smarter than me said a long time ago that cats’ eyes are windows enabling us to see into another world and I couldn’t agree more. By all means, it’s a world far better than
the one we made for them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The First Stroke of Winter

Winter has just struck with all of its fierce power. We’ve been literally snowed in for the last couple of days and a state of emergency has been declared for Vojvodina. When even the highways are buried in snow drifts, what can you expect of the local roads?
And yet my shelter, although not fully prepared for the winter weather, is holding on in a small snow-covered village…

We’re in the grip of a deep freeze, with continuing snowfall accompanied by frosty, biting and
stinging northerly winds. Luckily, this heavy snow can't contrive to pile up on my chain link fence, but the heaps of snow do build up on the rooftop. I guess it’s a good thing that I still don’t hear ominous cracking sounds from the roof as it is successfully bearing
the burden of extra weight, at least for now.

The yard resembles a winter wonderland. It’s not so magical, though, for those of us who are shoveling paths through the deep snow so that the others, the furry, four-legged ones, can
run and jump easily all over the yard. The youngsters are having a great time and loving the snow (yeah, it’s easy for them to love it), but most of the older kitties are definitely not impressed. Some of them took a brief walk through the snow on that first day,
decided they didn’t like it and are now resting in their warm rooms, while the others didn’t even desire to set foot outside. The only exception is Speki, whose fascination with snow is well known, but he won't be so delighted if the food delivery truck
doesn’t manage to push its way through.

Although we’re in mid-December, the snow caught everyone by surprise. When things get back to normal again, all of the doors of the kitties’ indoor enclosure and the gates will have to be
strengthened and fixed. This winter is obviously going to be brutal, with above normal heavy snowfall and frigid winds. We must do everything within our power to prepare for the cold months coming ahead the best we can. Please, help us with whatever you are able
to give! It’s a dire emergency here and there’s no more time to waste!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Star in the Sky

How much loss and sorrow can a person take before they break completely? It has been said that the heaviest burden is placed on those who can carry its weight and I won’t give up, as I’ve never been a quitter, but my ability of overcoming grief has been seriously
challenged lately. Living on the edge of despair over these last few months, while facing tragedies one after the other, maybe I overrated my strength. When we happen to lose someone we love, only one question remains - why?

Cinco is gone. My precious little darling, a calico cutie with big, round eyes and the sweetest face like a little cherub, lost her ultimate fight, the fight for life. Another mysterious disease, another unsuccessful treatment, another big loss, another tiny light extinguished
forever. One of the hardest things about running a cat shelter is that it’s impossible to know which kitty is going to be struck down next and the nagging fear is always present. I cannot escape wondering how many deaths are too many…

I came upon Cinco two years ago, while I was wandering through the market. One of the pet food sellers was also selling three tiny, desperate and totally helpless kittens that were confined in a bird-cage, five euros each. By the time I found a box to put them into,
two of the kittens had already been sold and Cinco was the only one left. She was emaciated, terrified, distrustful and about the same age as my Archi.

Cinco and Archi were inseparable from the beginning, he was her strength and if it
wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t have survived her horrible ordeal. She was full of worms and fleas, she had an eye infection and her tail was broken in three places – probably due to not enough space in that cage. She was under treatment for months but eventually
recovered and grew up into a beautiful kitty, with striking good looks and the personality to match. It seemed that she had her whole life in front of her. Who could have known it would be cut so short?

Cinco was doing just
fine until a week ago, when she developed a high fever, unexpectedly and out of the blue. She exhibited no other symptoms but she had stopped eating and was losing weight and getting weaker at a rapid rate. Not much later, she couldn’t get up and in just a few
short days, everything was over. She didn’t stand a chance.

I can’t believe this is happening, I just can’t reconcile to the fact that I’ve lost so many beloved kitties over this year and I keep asking myself what could have been done to prevent all of
these tragedies. The answer is nothing, nothing at all.

Even now, after my cherished Cinco crossed the boundary between two worlds and became immortal, my heart is still full of her little paw prints. I want to believe that she is at peace
and that her beautiful eyes, so full of love and light, will be watching over all of her friends and me until eternity. The ones we love never truly leave us and every beat of our hearts will be their song until our paths cross again.

To know you was to love you, my precious little darling. Fly free and happy now, on the other side of the rainbow.

You will always be remembered.