Monday, July 16, 2012

Worth a Small Fortune

Last weekend, a week ago, we met a nice English lady at the park who was walking along by the sea  with what we learned later was a friend's dog.  He was a big dog. He looked to be a boxer and mastiff mix.  He was a very polite dog, and though off lead, did not bother the cats we were feeding.  We commented to her how well behaved he was, and then struck up a conversation with her.  We learned she had an apartment across the street and down about a block from the park.  We told her about our work with the cats in the village.  She told us there were many cats behind her apartments that a fisherman's wife was feeding. 

We met our new friend here

She told us about the many cats who lived back there, and kittens who were not healthy, and other sad stories.  She told us she has had four dogs here who were poisoned in the field behind her apartment building.  She told us about a man who puts piles of raw pigmeat laced with poison out under trees for dogs.  She said the cats and the hedgehogs eat it and die, too.  She said she went to the police, and we heard the familiar story we hear all over the island from everyone who has been through this:  They did not do anything.  They make a thousand excuses not to come out and investigate.  (We know this is true, because our dog was poisoned in our neighborhood a little over a year ago. Our dog was 16 years old.)

After that, she took it upon herself  to post laminated signs on the trees back there to warn people of the poison.  We saw those signs three years ago - we just didn't know who put them up.  We stopped walking our dogs back there because of them.  Now we know where they came from, and it was good of her.

The cats she spoke of live across the street from the park and behind the apartment buildings and restaurants there

We have seen cats poisoned, too.  We had to take one to the vet once to try and save her.  She was one of the ferals.   She came to our home and hid up under our car.  We could tell something wasn't right.  We took her to the vet.  That is when we learned it was poison.  She died also.    But our post today is not about poisonings.  One day we will write about that.  It's hard to write about.

Later, mid-week, I saw this nice lady again at the park while I was up top feeding Strike.  She told me about a kitten in back of her apartments whose eye was infected.  So Nik and I had set our minds to go back there this past weekend to meet with her and look for the kitten, and to see what the situation was back there with all of the cats she'd told us the fisherman's wife was feeding.  So we called her on Sunday morning, that was yesterday, and we met her back there around dinner time.  The lady who had been feeding them went abroad, and now no one was feeding them, so she herself had started taking food down to them in the evenings.  She took us about, but we could not find the kitten she told us about.  It was pretty depressing back there.

But we did see what she said appeared to be a littermate of the kitten she spoke of earlier, with a similar coloring and of the same age.  We were so busy getting the trap and food ready just in case we saw the kitten, we forgot our camera.  So all we have are some pictures taken with Nik's phone:

Possibly the littermate of the kitten we were looking for

I wish this picture showed better the context of this kitten's position.  She was lying just in front of a doorway leading up to the back entrance of an apartment bulding several stories high.  Many people must have passed by her as this exit led to their parked cars and the dumpsters.  There were no other kittens her age around, and no mother in sight.  She was the coloring of Arsinoe, tri-colored, so we knew she was a girl.  She was not moving.

She was tri-colored like Arsinoe

Nik went and got a closer look at her and said to me, "I think we better take her."  I love my husband for things like this.  I know I am very lucky.  He got even closer, and when the kitten did not run off, in fact she did not even move, he bent down, scooped her gently up, and placed her in the carrier we brought with us.   I could see both her eyes were closed with infection and producing heavy fluids.   He looked at me and said we had to get her to a vet.  We put down some food we brought, as some older  kittens were gathering now, and as we walked away more started coming from every direction.

It was a depressing, unkempt sight back there - here two more kittens of differing ages ate

As we were leaving, our friend showed us the location of a new mother cat behind a neighboring restaurant that had had her kittens in a metal tub resting atop a brick wall.  We quickly put some soft food down for her and then said thank you to our new friend and good bye.  We took the little kitten home as fast as we could to try to bottle feed it, and as soon as we arrived, Nik called our vets, George and Christina, in Nicosia.  

The little kitten when we got her home

As Nik was on the phone with George,  I went inside and made up a bottle of formula kitten milk, adding just a dab of yogurt, and got some soft blankets for inside the carrier.  George instructed Nik that if the kitten ate to bring her up to them in the morning, and if she didn't, to call him back and they would meet us at their clinic as soon as we could get there. 

Here you can see her eyelids are nearly glued shut from infection

Nik attempted to feed the tiny kitten very slowly.  She was not sucking and he was slowly squirting the milk into her mouth, but the good news is she was swallowing it all on her own.  He asked me for some damp tissues to clean her eyes.  We tried but could not get them clean.  They were caked with dried fluids and still producing more heavy mucous.  It was then, while I was stroking her for the first time, I felt all her tiny little ribs.  She was skin and bones. 

Nik is happy because she is swallowing the food

Meanwhile Sylvia, Amber, and Jazzy were all about with us outside, seeming to take comfort in the family time, and Big Van even passed through for a snack.  This is the first time we have seen Big Van at our house since we released him.

Jazzy was nearby the whole time

While outside feeding the sick kitten, we had our first Big Van sighting at our house, which was good

The little kitten drank half the bottle.  We then got her a hot water bottle and prepared the carrier for her with some soft fleece cushioning and linens under which we placed a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.  We put a little stuffed animal in with her to simulate the presence of her mother.  When Nik placed her inside she tried to come toward him again - she felt comforted by his presence.

Here she nuzzled up to Nik - she was really responding to him

We gave her a two hour rest.  She slept in the carrier while Nik grabbed two hours of sleep on the sofa next to her and while our cats investigated the goings on.  I took care of the litterboxes and food and water for the rest of the cats.

Nik got a little much needed sleep while Fantasia investigated  - it was a sweet sight

Two hours later Nik woke up like a hero and fed her again.  She drank another quarter of a bottle.

This morning she went into Nicosia with Nik and he dropped her off with George and Christina.  He phoned me later this morning and told me that George and Christina said it didn't look good for her, and not to be too hopeful.  The disease had already taken her eyes, which means she is blind, and her lungs are filled with fluid.  Now I wait to hear back from Nik with any good news.  We are praying for her and if we could ask if you would please do the same we would be so grateful.  Thank you.  Last night I asked Nik what he wanted to name her and he said Fortune.


"Therefore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune; for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible." Francis Bacon


  1. poor baby. Your work may be filled with satisfaction helping feral cats by neutering and feeding them, but oh the heartache with cases like little Fortune and that beautiful cat that was hit by a car when the leafblower scared it and it ran in the road. Makes me want to cry right now. But thank you thank you for doing such a great thing. Maybe in time the population of cats will go down if there are others like you. And we need more education for well-intended but ignorant people that thinks its doing the cat a favor "letting her have babies" and only adding to the huge cat population.

  2. Thank you, Lessandra. Our work is definitely a mixed bag of joy and heartache. We do need more education - we need to teach children compassion, responsibility, service, effort and creativity - because it takes all these things to solve this problem. Thank you.