Halle’s babies, being almost 3 months old, were supposed to be ready for adoption, and I had accordingly made arrangements with the SPCA to have the babies put up for adoption and Halle spayed on Saturday, 14th June.
Sometime during the week the cats were living with my friend who was assisting with fostering, something strange happened to the white kitten, Chip. He was perfectly fine and active on Wednesday morning, but whenthe fosterer came back from the shops, Chip seemed paralysed and unable to move his hindquarters. I was duly informed and that evening, after feeding Amber and the Rowdies, I went over to check on Chip. He didn’t seem to be in any pain although he could not move his hindquarters. We arranged to have him brought to the vet in the morning.
The next morning, however, he was crawling and even attempting to stand up. There were no signs of fever or an infection, and his appetite was hearty. By afternoon, he was walking again. By evening, he was hopping in and out of the litter tray and playing with his siblings. We then concluded that he must have been a little rough in his play and must have hurt his back or legs. In retrospect, perhaps we should have erred on the side of caution and taken him to the vet. But you see, we have given him the best of love and care, and he wasn’t exposed to other cats or animals that could spread disease, and he had been vaccinated and dewormed and showed no sign of illness or injury, and so we believed, in good faith, that he was alright and we had no reason to believe that he would suffer a relapse.
On the morning the cats were to be put up for adoption, I gave them warm baths and dried them with a towel. I gave them a special meal of fish with vitamin supplements and cod liver oil before putting them into the carriers.
When I reached the SPCA and began transferring the kittens into the big viewing cage, I realized with horror that Chip was not moving. He looked lifeless and his limbs were askew. I massaged his little heart and put him next to his mother for warmth. Chip leaned against Halle but made no attempt to suckle. I began crying for him to wake up. “We’ve come this close to finding you a home, Chip”, I begged. “If you are not adopted, I’ll bring you home and look after you. Please, just wake up.”
By 1300 hours, Chip’s vital functions stopped, and fluids flowed out of his tiny body. He was hardly breathing. Dr. Pushpa euthanized him to end his suffering. I cried because I missed him very much already and felt a great sense of loss and regret. Dr. Pushpa said that Chip could be suffering from a congenital problem with his circulation or some other matter, and treatment and medication may not be sufficient to cure him or help him live longer anyway.
Our general worker Maran helped me dig a grave for my little Chip at the animals’ graveyard behind the shelter. I buried Chip with a handful of longifolia flowers and prayed that he will find peace at last. I let him know how much I love him and how sorry I am that I didn’t do better by him.
Resuming my duties at the shelter was difficult. I didn’t feel capable of walking the dogs just yet. In any case, we had a new volunteer that week, a wholesome young man who did a great job of assisting Rose with bathing and tickwashing most of the kennel dogs. I cleaned and disinfected the cattery because I could be alone in there with the cats, without having to speak to any other person. Next, I soaped and disinfected the E and F Kennels while the dogs were out playing in the Dogs’ Playground. Some of the dogs squeezed up against the gate in the hope that I would take notice of them, so I stopped to pet them and talk to them. Rose helped me hose down the soapy enclosures so I could take the dogs out for walks, 2 by 2. Rose and I de-ticked 2 of the dogs that had a particularly resistant strain of ticks. Wolfhound came to help us, and when we were done, we put the tickcide and flea comb away and resumed cleaning the shelter.
A few visitors arrived after we had locked the gates and I was called upon to assist with surrenders and donations. The economic recession is hitting local charities pretty badly. While we still do receive donations from corporations for tax rebate reasons, individuals are less likely to donate cash and pet food to the shelter now that food and fuel prices are soaring. Adoption rates will continue to suffer in months to come, as fewer people will be able to afford landed properties, vet bills or pet food, and more people will have to work longer hours or take up second jobs just to make ends meet. I pray I will still be able to find homes for my little ones once they have been vaccinated or neutered and ready for adoption. I cannot even afford to repair my car or shoes and may not be able to afford premium food for my fur-babies unless I moonlight.
I soaped, scrubbed and disinfected the shelter Reception/Admin areas, puppy area and central area and got ready to clean myself up and leave as Reve had offered to do the rinsing for me. I left the shelter, returned to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters, showered and drove back to the parental home in time for our early Fathers’ Day Dinner. I gave Dad a boxed fruitcake studded with entire almonds and glace cherries, the kind he loves. We went out to a restaurant nearby for an inexpensive dinner and came home for a dessert of fresh fruit.
Sunday was Fathers’ Day proper. I was up early to bathe Amber and clean the house. I mopped the floor before lunch. After lunch, I dismantled and cleaned the cookerhood, cleaned my Dad’s work area and polished the living and dining room furniture. In the evening, I washed the cars, cleaned the dogs’ cages, washed the driveway and porch and took the dogs out for walks. Went back to the ‘Quarters after dinner. It made me feel sad to see the kittens’ empty cage. I hope they all find good homes.
I’m feeling disproportionately sad and pessimistic right now. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.