My Greek kitty crew

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A little micro cosmos...

Today I am caused to take a little detour in my writing...

For some days now we've been blessed with the most balmy weather. Sun, golden light, warmth, no wind, quiet... These are the kind of days where I love to grab a mug of coffee and my camera and just sit in the garden with the cats and bask in our blessings. Reflecting, among other things, on just how grateful I feel about being able to offer these cats a refuge, a place to heal, love in overspill and a safe place for them to grow and live. Allowing all their wonderful and eachly unique essences to bloom... so unbelievably enrichening to witness.

As we sit there in the garden I'm sometimes caused to think of the little souls we lost. In my mind I sometimes relive the heartache and the wrenching feelings you get when you know it's out of your control whether they live or not. On some of these occasions where I have found myself praying so intently to the Gods for some miracle that will let them live - I've been caused to think; But why this little cat? - when I know some deserving human/s - or a little child - are fighting for their lives somewhere in the world and doesn't make it.

This mornings thought are caused by waking up to the news of the the Indien girl "Damini" dying. The one that recently suffered the most horrendous humanly atrocious attack in Dehli. For days my husband and I have been praying for her healing and recovery. It was devastating to wake up to this, well sad doesn't convey the feeling, news of her passing. India will no doubt be in an outpour of fury and revenge. Revenge is a very understandable feeling, but like Gandhi said; "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

So where does one go to in oneself to find a sense of understanding and relegation of raw emotions? I try (as much as humanly possible) to find understanding with a third vector - a position that buffers or creates insulation between dualisms - eg. crimes vs punishment/revenge. In a simple way (it's in danger of almost sounding kliche) it caused me to think of the level of acceptance we each individually permit in our lives and space. It must start with that kind of self leadership. What kind of behavior we won't allow in ourselves - and what we won't allow in the spaces we occupy.

Then I return to our little micro cosmos... a place where we try to uphold a level of human standard and decency. Does that sound too simple?? To me that seems like it has become the extraordinary in this world. 

To "Damini" - may God have mercy on your beautiful soul. May the world see the change your spirit came here to deliver. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

A heart of gold merits kindness from a stranger

So you have heard about this hero vet of ours several times this year. There's just simply no way we could do what we do without his tireless efforts, fantastic attitude, warming love for the animals and a very very patient demeanor! I can't count the times we've rushed to the practice with a cat in need with no time to call in advance. In spite of people in the waiting room and us trying to squeeze in in between furry patients, we have never have we met a disgruntled face but always kindness and an instant willingness to help the cat in need. When we've had an emergency like we did this summer with Snowy having a very serious asthmatic attack, he instantly left the practice and came to Snowy's rescue. As a matter of fact he's often come at the end of long working hours to tend to some of our kitties, involving a long drive too. But it's always been the same... just kindness and such love and compassion for the cats. Added to this we have always been treated to a very favorable price for these stray kitties... I don't know if people are this lucky any other place in Greece! We count ourselves very lucky - truly! As you can imagine the yearly vet bill would be off the charts with nearly 40 cats (plus treatment for the occasional dumpster cat). 

It's not easy knowing how to repay such to us invaluable kindness, but this Christmas I got to pass a  very sweet treat from a complete stranger. 

A little while back I saw this really cool t-shirt on Etsy that I just thought he would love. It was worn by Jackson Galaxy, the star of My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet (boy would I love for him to come around sometime!!). When I saw the opening statement of the shop owners profile, I instantly thought I was in the company of like-minded souls: 

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" ~ Mahatma Gandhi 

- I actually used this very quote in an early blog post!

Reading a little more about the terrific people behind this shop I realized I was in the company of animal lovers and people who do good in this world. They donate towards animal shelters and nature disasters. With this is mind I dared write to them telling them about the cats I rescue and asked if they might be open to donate a t-shirt to a man who does so much good for animals. Anyone who's ever inquired about donations for any cause knows it can be a bit far and wide in between kind responses. So I was both amazed and over the moon when I received the sweetest reply, instantly asking for my address. I was frankly bolted over by their upfront and instant kindness. A very sweet correspondence started and lo and behold... a few weeks later this cool t-shirt was in my mailbox! 

This allowed for us to drop by just a few days ago to pass this special surprise to Manos, our vet. It was great for once being able to pass a kindness in return - and it even involving kindness from complete strangers. 

So here he is proudly wearing the t-shirt. Some friends of ours (also real cat lovers) met him later in the day in the practice showing off his new t-shirt... (I think he does love it!!).

At home with his own cats after a long working day... He travels to the surrounding islands with veterinary service and has pioneered so many good things and projects for the Greek cats and animals. He is their advocate and voice for sure. 

And to sweet Abby (cool t-shirt super model), Toni and Mark... THANK YOU!  I can't even begin to convey how heart warming and magic your kindness has been. 

To check out their cool goods head over to their Etsy shop RCTEES.

Merry Christmas all!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Amazing Gracie

So I promised to write about this beautiful heroic girl Gracie. She is 100% blind. 
Gracie's "rescue" story has been painstakingly slow and has required bundles of patience.. but that I have.

I first spotted her almost two years ago, January 1st 2011. I was driving along the road of our quiet valley when I saw this little (I think she must have been about 5-6 months old) awfully skinny and strangely wobbly walking cat. I instantly stopped to check her out but met a very scared cat that set off in a direction away from me - but with a very strange kind of wobble. I tried to walk towards her but with the result that she started running and fell into ditches and bumped into bushes... I realized she was blind. I can't actually describe the sense of distress I felt - how on earth was she going to survive like this?? Not to stress her further and cause her harm, I knew I had to give up pursuing her. But I searched for her for days after that - but with no result. We live in a vast nature area on a mountain side and it was impossible to know where she was hiding. I eventually gave up... I frankly thought she hadn't made it through the winter. But...

Spring time came and I suddenly spotted her again one day - just outside our gate. I think she had secretly smelt her way to a source of food (I feed our more feral cats not far from the gate). Stupidly in my eager to feed her I walked towards her with a handful of kibble. With the same result as the first time I saw her... she hurriedly wobbled away. This time I knew not to pursue her further. Slowly slowly this started repeating itself - only now I began to outsmart her. I knew which direction she would set off so I took off my shoes (so as not to make a sound to scare her) and ran ahead of her and left some kibble. Success!!! I could then sit at a distance and watch her have a much needed meal.  

This happened more regularly and I started calling her name... it had to be Gracie, she moves beautifully and carefully when she is not stressed. Feeding her involved taking off my shoes for a long time - this allowed me to put the food just in front of her without her noticing me. But eventually she got used to my name and I think she associated it with food and no danger. We built a great little trust relationship and I was of course over the moon the first time she allowed me to pet her. Talk about a WOO HOO feeling!!! 

She started settling and about a year ago it was obvious she had not intention of leaving. She did not do well with any sense of confinement so when we found her in our basement last winter taking shelter from the rain, we naturally left a blanket for her. She began to thrive and put on weight. Our first real challenge came when she had to be spayed. We knew she would freak out in the transport box. She was of course petrified but I told her she was safe and would soon be back in her well-known territory. We'd agreed with the vet that she would be put under immediately to alleviate her stress and after bringing her home she was released into the caravan in the garden. It was freezing cold outside and I simply had to make sure she would be warm during her recovery. I'd created a big woolen nest on the floor and after an initial moment of freaking out she gradually began to settle (the tasty food helped!). The next morning I actually found her curler up in the woolen nest beautifully asleep. She was content and very happy when she stepped outside and realized she was indeed in her well-known territory again. Since then she has grown very trusting of us and she now sleeps indoor with the younger cats. They are in a place where there is always an open door so Gracie thrives here. 

Gracie is very tactile... she loves lying in places where she can touch something - like this top image where she is resting her paws on a broom head. Inside she has her food on a box slightly raised above the floor. It has an uneven surface and it gives her great comfort relating to the world around her through touch. 

Her true nature has appeared and she is actually a very cheeky girl. When it's time for feeding she runs ahead of me (on the path you can see in the above images) and hides behind the bushes to the side. When she can hear me just in front of her she jumps out to surprise me... need I say she melts my heart!? She always always rolls over the moment she hears me and is ready for a tummy rub and you can see in these images that she loves posing for the photographer - I actually think she is smiling to the photographer in this last image!!

P. s. Stay tuned - sweet Christmas story coming up Monday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Obscure to the world but alight in my heart

This post was going to be about my hero girl Gracie, but today I have to give this space to an unknown boy named Elvis. 

Elvis is one among six kittens that appeared last winter at the dumpster where I daily feed the strays. Maybe you remember the stories of me rescuing two of them last December. Two of them (not related) suffered serious flu's and I knew I had to take them for them to survive. Every since it became an internal battle for me every day I went to feed the strays. I could see that the weather was taking its toll on the young ones and I can honestly say that I wanted to rescue them all. But space and the safety of the other cats has always been an issue so I have had to proceed with precaution (remember there is no cat shelter on this island). This meant that I had to make the decision to treat two of the other kittens on site at the dumpster - trying to help them through health problems. Eventually I lost them both. Later during the summertime the fifth suddenly disappeared... never to be found again. 

Elvis though seemed strong. Below he is pictured with Felix (one of the cats I did rescue). At first I thought he was a girl - he looked so pretty. So I named "him" Precious. When I realized she was a he I turned to DH and asked; What shall we name him then?... something that sounds like Precious. A little amused with himself he blurted; "Presley!" Well, with a pretty little face like that I thought Presley sounded too severe so I suggested Elvis - and Elvis it was. 

By the time all the other kittens had perished (by June this year) I began to feel very protective of Elvis. He was like an extended family member - I could never wait to go feed him every day. He was always strong and seemed to enjoy his free roaming life. Inside though I always felt I wanted to rescue Elvis. I somehow felt he already was a member of the family. But there was always that eternal consideration of space - and having squeezed in a few more needy ones this year. 
But about 10 days ago Elvis appeared with a huge paw and he was limping. We've just had a similar case back at base that were treated with antibiotics. The symptoms were the exact same (two or three days limping and then the swelling). In consultation with the vet I decided to give him antibiotics as well and was hoping for the same positive effect as at base. The vet thought it might be a bad bite wound. It kind of made sense as Elvis suddenly appeared scared when he appeared for meals. With big male cats around (those kept by people) I think he'd reached an age where he was suddenly a threat in the territory. 

Saturday night was the last time I saw Elvis. He hurriedly had the meal I'd especially prepared for him with the antibiotics. Then he set off down the road - turned around and gave me a last look and off he went. I have no idea what have happened but I don't think I will ever see Elvis again. He has always been on time for his meals this last year. On a few rare occasions he's missed one meal but then always returned for the next. I'd love to think that maybe he's gone on heat and has searched for a different territory but what unnerves me is that one of the regular adult females (spayed!) went missing at the exact same time. Two other of these particular dumpster cats went missing during the summer never to be seen or found again. We live in a rural area and there's a chance someone might have left out some rat poison. Whatever happened I have prayed and prayed that I would find him... I would just love the peace of mind. You know just like if a family member had gone missing. I've tried it many times by now but it's not easy overcoming the eternal "what ifs" and "if only I'd..."

I have searched and searched for him - and then searched some more. I keep a vague hope alive that he will appear again  - but something inside tells me he won't. I can't describe the agony I feel at him having gone missing. To my heart he will be so solely missed. 

This last image is one I shared last December. There's six cats in this image. Two cats are still alive. They're the ones I rescued. 

On a different note, the new batch of fundraising cards have arrived. Please see last post for info. Right now all images are again available.