OMG our new Cat Headquarters aka Pussy Palace aka Meow Mansion is finally ready! And our new charity shop there is open!
After 6 months of not having a cat shop on the island, things are finally getting back to normal: we have a place where people can come visit for all kinds of cat issues! To buy cat food, cat souveniers, get basic medication or collars or toys for their cats. And who knows what else there will be!
The building also has a huge room for clinic and this gives us a possibility to organize vet visits more often. As soon as the clinic room is properly set up and organized, and we have stocked up medicines and supplies, we can welcome vets anytime! I am just exploding with happiness, as having a good, proper building all for cats has been my dream since I started the project 4 years ago. But it always felt that dream was beyond reach, because we never had money to buy land and build anything. But here we are now! I still have trouble believing this is true!
But let's start from the beginnig:
In february 2017 I was told Egoiste Restaurant will need our cat shop space for their own use. Meaning: I need to move my cat stuff out of there. I was expecting this. The island went through a huge beach clean-up at the end of February, and all businesses on the beach had to move out of the beach. Still, when I got the news that my cat shop days in Egoiste will come to an end caused quite a panic in my mind. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I have no money to rent another place (Egoiste shop space was given to me and cats for free) and there's no way I will find anyone willing to donate me a new place.
But, things will always work out somehow. Later that same day I told my friend that I am gonna lose my cat shop and don't know what the hell to do now and what is going to happen with my cat project. He didn't even blink. He just said, well, let's build you a new shop right there and pointed to an empty land he owns. Seriously? OMG! What an earth have I done to deserve this????
We made first plans for the building, and I was expecting I could maybe have a tiny piece of land where I could fit one room, serving as a shop/clinic/storage, a bit like what I had in Egoiste. But oops, the one tiny kiosk that I had in my mind exploded into a massive mansion, with a shop in front, a storage/recovery room and a big room for a clinic. About 40 square meters in total! Amazeballs!
Getting money to build the new cat headquarters was what needed to be done next. I had no idea what the building might cost, but I was sure it won't be cheap. We organized the first fundraising event in February, and collected about 17million rupiah. People also donated online and personally. I also started to collect building crew sponsors to cover the cost of the actual building work, as we knew the building master will charge about 1million per square meter for the construction work.
The old cat shop at Egoiste closed at the end of March. We had our last cat clinic there in the beginning of April and then I moved out. All the stuff was stored into my house. Then it was basically just waiting waiting waiting... waiting for donations to flow in, waiting for the building crew to finish other projects.
Still, by June 2017 we didn't have enough money to even get started! Desperation was the number 1 feeling I had, especially after meeting the building master Mr.Ramdan. He gave me some estimates of what and how much materials is needed and what everything will cost. Holy crap! I basically had money for sand and cement and bricks, but that's it. How the hell am I ever gonna get the building up??? Luckily, Trawangan Dive and their new Fat Cats Bar & Restaurant stepped in. They contacted me and said they want to help out and organize a massive fundraising event. And so they did, with the help of Gili Eco Trust volunteers. The crazy Blind Dating event was held in the beginning of August and collected over 40 million rupiah! Now we can get started!
August 16th was the day the construction work begun. I was beyond excited, but at the same time I was super stressed about money. I was scared the money will run out before the building is ready and I will end up having a half done mansion. Luckily, again, we got all the building bricks donated to us, plus most of the tiles we needed for floors and the clinic room counter tops plus small amounts of some other materials, so that saved us loads of money. But still, I was in complete panic most of the time.
While I was panicing and losing sleep over the building, the construction crew at the building site was working like crazy. I've seen some building projects here and was expecting loads of problems: shitty work, disappearing workers etc. But omg everything went super smoothly and so fast I still cannot believe it.
The first hole to our land was digged in the morning of August 16th. Just 7 weeks later the building was 100% ready, with roof on top, everything painted, running water, electricity connected and locks on doors. FROM NOTHING TO READY IN SEVEN WEEKS! Holy crap!
Check our photo album in Facebook to see how the building got up.
The building cost about 121million rupiah in total. That is about 11 500AUD, 7600EUR, 9000USD.
Once the building was all ready in the beginning of October, I still had to wait a bit before I was able to start moving all cat stuff in. I had to wait for my new work permit to come through (getting a work permit for Indonesia is a crazy process and takes months!) and once it did, I had to fly to Singapore to pick up a visa I need for the work permit. Luckily, that got sorted in the first week of October.
I then started moving all cat stuff from my house to the new building and our new shop opened for the first time on Monday the 9th of October. Everything is still a bit chaotic as I don't have any furniture and no money to buy anything (cats are totally broke at the moment), but whatever, the shop is open! Rest will be sorted out somehow, later on.
I cannot believe how amazing the building is! The rooms are spacious, and there is so much light inside! Aircons work, roof is not leaking, we have fresh water coming directly from the tap and there is SO MUCH SPACE! There are no termites, cockroaches, mice or frogs! Don't get me wrong, I am forever grateful for Egoiste for having me there for the past years, they really helped the cat project to take a huge leap forward, but honestly, the room we had there was quite horrible. Especially during the rainy season as the roof was leaking so badly it was sometimes like standing in a shower! Not to mention the damn gang of mice, who ate everything and shitted all over the place!
So, the new bulding is awesome and it seems people have been waiting for the new shop to open! At the moment of writing this the shop has been open for 2 days and we have already had several customers and have sold some stuff! I am so excited!
Past few month have been hectic and stressfull, and sometimes I was wondering how will it feel when the day comes that the building is ready and things are back to normal.
I can tell you now it feels absolutely, totally, 100% AMAZING!
And this could have never been possible without getting help from people and businesses here and around the world! Time to thank everyone who made this possible:
First of all: the biggest thanks and warmest purrs to Mr. Robert and Mr. Neil who gave us the land, who donated all the building bricks and most of the tiles. This would have never been possible without these two australian dudes who have the biggest, warmest hearts! Love you guys! And the island cats love you toooooo!
Big thanks also to Sarah at Trawangan Dive / Fat Cats who came up with the idea of organizing a huge fundraising event at their bar. Without the event and the money it collected, I don't think the building would be ready yet! Thanks also to Gili Eco Trust volunteers and everyone else who helped the event be such a big success!
Thanks to Gili Golf for hosting the fundraiser event in February and thanks to everyone who helped that event go so smoothly.
Thanks to Mr.Memet in Gili Palms, who helped me so much during the building process: he was translating when I had problems understanding what the building crew tried to tell me, he helped handling the money and paying the bills, and he was just a huge source of information and support.
The following people and businesses each sponsored at least 1 square meter of the construction work:
And thanks to everyone who has made donations, big or small, to us in the past 6 months! All money was well needed and spent on our new building.
Thanks also to Tori at Lutwala Dive for keeping the cat hospital running, collecting donations and having some of our merchandise for sale at their office while I was doing nothing but losing my mind over money and building and getting things done.
Now we can get back to business and continue helping our feline islanders! More news coming soon!
Our 10 day cat clinic in November is over! Let's start with statistics and thank yous, and then I'll tell a bit more details on how it all went.
Here's the dates and locations and amount of cats our vet team treated:
In total during these 10 days our vet team treated 318 cats, and of those 269 were spayed or neutered.
The clinic cost us 13.5 million rupiah. Half of that money was spent on medicines and medical supplies, rest was spent on cages, cat food, transport between the islands, cleaning and "office" supplies, and whatever there was that we need during the clinic.
We had a big vet team: 8 vets and one vet nurse. They were all volunteers. Our vet team got free accommodation from hotels/guesthouses who support our work. See the list of our supporters here. We also had some volunteers helping out in catching cats, looking after the cats in our recovery rooms after the operation and whatever there was to do.
Overall the clinic was a record breaking success. In Gili Air especially: we had more cats in each day than ever before during any clinic day! That's the way we like it, as our vets come here to work and like to keep busy! Hooray to that!
This clinic was the 9th spay/neuter clinic Cats Of Gili has organized since the project was started in September 2013. In these 9 clinics we have treated over 2200 cats and spayed/neutered nearly 1700 cats.
Huuuuge thanks and a big paw to our amazing vet team! Big thanks to Egoiste and Beah Bungalows in Gili Trawangan for tolerating our meoowing mayhem for 4 days. Thanks to Mallias Bungalows in Gili Meno for hosting the clinic and letting us use their beautiful family bungalow for cat clinic purposes. Thanks to Oceans5 Dive Resort in Gili Air for having us there again. Thanks to all the hotels and guesthouses who donated rooms to our vet team. Thanks to Gili Eco Trust for their speed boat when we and all clinic stuff had to move between the islands. Thanks to everyone who came to help or gave donations during (or before) the clinic. Very special thanks to volunteers Jenni & Timppa who were slaving their asses off all 10 days and kept things running so smoothly outside the operation room. This left me time to concentrate more on keeping the vets happy and coordinating volunteers and sorting out whatever issues there were. And as I had help I could really count on, I wasn't such a horrible angry and tired bitch during this clinic as I normally am. This made things easier to everyone, I'm sure.
And then to more details!
Cat clinic in Gili Trawangan was held at our small cat chop in Egoiste. For recovery room I rented a room from Beach Bungalows located right behind Egoiste. We had busy 4 days at the clinic, loads of cats on each day! We had some volunteers who came to help catching cats, and many people who live on the island brought their owns cats or cats from their neighbourhood. This was great, as those cats we were able to send home after surgery, and this way we were able to save the recovery room cages for stray cats.
We keep stray cats in our recovery cages overnight and release them in the morning after the operation, if they are ok. Most cats are perfectly back to normal the following day, but every now and then there are cats who stay drunk for a looooong time and are still a little tipsy the next day. They just get to stay in recovery for another day then to sober up properly!
During the 4 days we were in Trawangan, we had two cats with FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). This is a new disease among our island felines. I saw first case about 2 years ago and now we see one every now and then. I suspect the virus has arrived to the Gilis when people have started to bring in cats from other island. This is a bad, bad disease, as it is fatal. There is no cure. The cat will die 100% sure. I've read from the all knowing information highway that vaccines do now exists, but am not sure if these vaccines are available in Indonesia. Will look into it if we start seeing these case more and more.
On top of our 4 cat clinic days, some of our vets did one evening clinic at Lutwala Dive plus one day clinic while rest of the team was in Gili Meno. 139 cats were treated by vets and 114 were spayed/neutered. 3 cats were euthanized. 3 cats had leg amputation and 1 cat had eye surgery. Overall, cats in Trawangan were in a pretty good shape (vet's opinion, and I do agree!).
After 4 days in Trawangan, we moved the clinic to Gili Meno. We haven't been to Meno very often, which is a shame as there is an obvious need for a regular spay/neuter project in Meno. There are loads of cats in Meno, and most of the females seemed to be either pregnant or with kittens. The problem in organizing clinics in Meno is that it's been very difficult to find a place willing to host our clinic and have our meoowing mayhem on their premises. This time we got lucky, as the owner of Mallias Bungalows welcomed us (even though he hates cats!), cleared one of his beautiful family villas from furniture and let us take over the place. Huge thanks and a big purr, though I'm sure he doesn't really want purrs! But thank you for giving us the opportunity to bring the cat clinic to Meno!
In Gili Meno things were done a bit differently. Cats without homes were kept in recovery cages for several days after the operation to give them more time to heal. This was due to wishes of "the Meno Cat Lady" Tina, who helped us organize everything in Meno, found us the place for the clinic and all the accommodation to the vets too. Without her help, I don't think there would be any cat clinics in Meno, as I don't know many people there and have no idea where to even start asking if anyone would welcome a cat clinic for a few days!
However, as we had quite a big vet team, who were able to spay/neuter dozens of cats in just one day, our recovery room cages were pretty much full after our first clinic day. Some cats went home the following day, so on clinic day 2 were were still able to welcome a few cats for spay/neuter, but after that it was pretty much full house and we could not take in more than 4 cats on our 3rd and last clinic day in Meno. Therefore, 2 of our vets got a day off and were able to enjoy the beautiful island surroundings, and 2 of our vets went back to Trawangan to do a mini-clinic at Lutwala Dive. Taking it a bit easy was good, as once we moved to Gili Air, things sure got crazy.... more about that in a bit!
In 3 clinic days in Gili Meno we had 55 cats in total and of those 52 were spayed/neutered.
Our vets also mentioned the Meno cats did not look as well as cats in Trawangan, for example. Nothing specific, but the appearance of the Meno cats was just a bit more "sorrier". Hopefully the Meno people will see the need for cat clinics too, and will support any efforts towards more spay/neutering, as that is the only way towards a smaller, but healthier and happier cat population.
On the morning of November 8th we moved to Gili Air. Clinic was hosted, once again, by Oceans 5 Dive Resort and we just love being there! The room where we have the clinic is big, the surroundings are amazing with mango trees heavy with fruit, the location is perfect (right next to harbour where boats arrive) and we always feel warmly welcomed once we arrive. Oceans 5 people are extremely supportive towards us and we absolutely love them! Also, people in Gili Air usually come forward and are very helpful and supportive. We got loads of volunteers: some were tourists staying in the island for just a while but willing to sacrifice a day or two from their holiday for animal welfare, and some were expats or other people who live and stay in Gili Air long term. There is a true community feeling there and also a growing understanding amongst the local people that what we do is good for the cats and good for the environment and therefore good for the whole island.
And due to all this... holy crap it got busy! First day: 46 cats! Second day: 42 cats! Third day 36 cats! Every cat that comes to a clinic gets a number and the cat's info is written on a booklet. The number-card then follows the cat all day, until the cat goes home or is released the next day. I've had number-cards made from 1 to 40 for 3 years now, and that has always been more than enough, I don't think we've ever had more than 35 cats in one clinic day.. Until now. I had to make new ones (from 41 to 50). Each day in Gili Air was busier than any one cat clinic day we have ever organized. Absolute mayhem!
In 3 clinic days in Gili Air, 124 cats visited the vets and 103 were spayed/neutered. One cat had a tail amputation due to such a severe wound it could not be fixed in any other way. We also got two very sick small kittens, that were taken to Trawangan for hospital care. One made it, one died.
And finally, 10 days of cat clinic action was over! I still had to return to Gili Air to collect all the cat clinic stuff and bring it back to storage in Gili Trawangan, but then: it's over! Time to rest, time to have a little holiday, and time for an ice-cold beer!
Organizing a cat clinic is always loads of work. Dates are decided months before the clinic starts, and after that the volunteer vet team and clinic locations need to be confirmed. When all that is sorted out: organize accommodation to the vet team, sort out medicine orders, get all supplies ready, clean up and wash all the cages and cat carrier baskets, spread information, organize boats to transport us between the islands when the clinic moves etc. In the middle of all that there is worry about if we have enough money for everything, do we get any volunteers to help, do we get enough cats so that our vets have work to do.... Then, once the first clinic day arrives, it's always exciting: how will everything work out this time?
As mentioned already, this was the 9th clinic Cats Of Gili has organized since we started 3 years ago. If you compare this clinic to the first 1 or 2 clinics we had... omg the difference is huge. In the beginning I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and was just trying my best and figuring things out. From every clinic I have learned a lot and in every clinic something is done a bit better than on the previous one. Things are not perfect yet, of course, but in my opinion the clinics run pretty smoothly right now. Still there is room for improvement, naturally, but step-by-step we go and learn!
And most importantly, when comparing to the first clinics we organized: our patients are in much better shape than 3-4 years ago! I remember that on one of the first clinics about 3 years ago, we had days when the vet team spent most of their time treating seriously sick cats, instead of doing just spay and neuter. We had to euthanize cats every day and it was just horrible. On this clinic: we euthanized 3 cats (FIP and other reasons that we could do nothing about), and yes, we lost some cats due to different reasons, but it was nothing compared to how things were on our first clinics.
This just shows us how important it is to keep on working towards smaller but healthier cat population, by doing spay/neuter clinics regularly, and by having vaccination available. I still dream of the day when we would have enough money to offer free vaccines and could vaccinate every cat that visits our clinics. Vaccines are quite expensive and we just don't have money for that. We do have vaccines (againts Feline Panleukopenia) but just for sale for people who want their own cats vaccinated. Kittens that spend time in our cat hospital before (hopefully) heading for adoptive homes, are vaccinated for free, but we do hint to the adoptive parents that a donation covering the cost of vaccines would be pretty awesome....
As for the next cat clinic: right now I don't even want to think about it just yet! However, most likely it will be around April 2017. As soon as dates are decided, I will post on our social media pages and start looking for the vet team. If you are an experienced vet willing to volunteer, email me then and email me quickly, as our vet team positions seem to fill up in just days!
Meanwhile, anyone willing to support our efforts to make life better for our Gili island felines, please give a donation! Or if you are visiting Gili islands, do some shopping at our cat shop! All donations and what little the cat shop makes, go towards helping our island cats: organizing the next spay/neuter clinics, having a steady supply of basic medicines available all the time, keeping our cat hospital running, etc.
Our focus is on cats and cats only. We are, or rather: I am crazy like that.
See the photo gallery below for some pictures from our November cat clinic!