#2159

There’s a lot of discussion these days about privilege – about what it means to be to be born into a certain place and time, into a certain gender, into a certain race or orientation. For most humans our whole lives depend on that tiny bit of chance and the luck of our circumstances can mean the difference between a long, happy life and a short, painful one. I therefore try to remain aware of my own privilege and use it to helps others who aren’t as blessed as I am – yet not until discovering The Whiskers Syndicate did I ever truly consider that the luck which makes such a difference for humans does the same for animals.

What I have learned from The Whiskers Syndicate is that the place where an animal is born makes just as big of a difference in their lives as it does for us humans. Even though my current cats were unfortunate enough to be born into a hoarding situation, they were also lucky enough to be born into a liberal American state where animal welfare is bolstered by laws, hundreds of local organizations, and a community of hardworking people who give their time, money, and love to the animals who share their space. There are of course countless animal rights issues in the United States (factory farming, environmental degradation, and backyard breeding to name a few) but at least here there is an ongoing discourse about the harm these practices cause. Many people speak out in the defense of those who cannot speak for themselves, and even if we’re a minority we’re at least a vocal one.

The cats born in Bandung, Indonesia lack even these seemingly basic privileges. There are no humane societies waiting to give them a chance at a new life, no laws protecting them from human cruelty, not even a veterinary community robust enough to diagnose and handle complex health issues. The people there who love and care for cats have no 24-hour vet hospitals, no PetCos, no free spay/neuter clinics, none of the things I take for granted every day. My cats have a good chance of living to be 15 or even 20 years old; street cats in Bandung last maybe 5 years if they’re lucky.

The disparity is so shocking I can hardly wrap my mind around it, and it highlights the stark need for an organization like The Whiskers Syndicate. Without Josie’s selfless dedication and her local and international network of supporters, the cats of Bandung would have nothing. A few kind hearts in the crowd, a few food scraps, but nothing so concrete. Knowing this, it makes me doubly grateful for the cats I’ve known and the ones I currently share my life with. Much like myself, they will never know what it’s like to live somewhere where you have no support, no safety, and only the smallest chance at happiness. I can’t tell my cats to appreciate how good they have it (though I try!), so instead I put my time and money where my mouth is. It feels like the least I can do when I, and they, have been so blessed.

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#2109

A spell to help an animal find their forever home

Tools:
Mortar and pestle
Cauldron (or other fire safe container)
Matches
Writing utensil

Ingredients:
1 bay leaf
Catnip (for Bast)
Lavender (love)
Thyme (courage)
Orange peel (luck)
Mint (travel, protection)

Open the spell as you would normally (casting a circle, etc). Grind together a pinch of catnip, lavender, thyme, mint, and orange peel while focusing on the intent of the spell. Write the animal’s name on one side of the bay leaf and the sigil on the other. While reciting the words below, light the bay leaf on fire and set it in your container with the other herbs.

“Hail Bast, Lady of the Flame, Great Mother Cat! I ask you to lend Your energy to this working and help [animal’s name] find their forever home, a place where they may live out the rest of their life in love and peace. I send them the hope and strength to complete this journey and find their rightful family. With these words I release this energy to fulfill its intended purpose. Hail Bast, Lady of the Flame, Great Mother Cat!

Let the mixture burn itself out, then close the spell as you would normally.

Some suggestions: While this was written to work with Bast, you could easily change the wording to use another deity associated with the animal of your choice (while perhaps trading out the catnip for an herb they prefer). You could also try writing the name of the rescue/shelter instead of a specific animal if you wanted to perform a more general spell.

#2015

Kitten Fostering as Service to Bast


My wife and I have been fostering kittens for over two years now. It all started one night when she called me during her shift at the local humane society and said hesitantly, “So… I’m bringing a kitten home,” as if I might refuse. Right – me, refuse a kitten! The little ball of black fluff she brought home was only a few weeks old and had been dropped off at the humane society after hours. With no one else to care for her over the weekend, Chriselle had no choice but to take the kitten back to our apartment. We named her Phedre, and she lived with us until she grew into a two pound monster who loved chewing on her foster moms – at which point we sent her off to her forever home and took in the next kitten. And the next. And the next. In the last two years we have fostered over forty kittens and that number will only keep growing. For Chriselle, it’s just who she is; she works to save animal lives all day, and it’s only natural to her to come home and keep doing that. For me, it’s about service to Bast; I know the cats She brings into our lives need us, and I could no more refuse Her than I could refuse Chriselle that very first time.

This service isn’t always easy, though – nor does it always end in a kitten finding their forever home. Sometimes it ends with us losing the kitten. Thanks to Chriselle’s veterinary skills and a little extra luck from Bast we’ve only lost three kittens so far, but each time hurts like they’re one of our own children. It’s so, so difficult to lose a foster. You blame yourself no matter the circumstance, because at the end of the day you took charge of that tiny life and ultimately let it down. It doesn’t matter that the three we lost all died of unknown and untreatable diseases – I will always carry the guilt of that failure. It’s just who I am, and who Chriselle is too. Animals are our world and we’d willingly lay down our own lives for any of them. We carry the memory of our lost ones close, and I know we remember them each time a foster has a close call.

After the loss of a foster, I have to remind myself that Bast brings each kitten into our lives for a reason. With the fosters we end up losing, I believe that reason is two-fold. One, I believe it’s because She knows we will properly mourn every little life and will never forget a single one of our fosters, even those who were only on this earth for a matter of days. They deserve remembrance, and they will remain in our hearts forever. Second, I believe it’s because She knows the loss won’t break us. We’ll cry together, yes, and deal with our anger and guilt in separate, probably not totally healthy ways, but we won’t stop fostering. We’re prepared for the hard parts of fostering kittens – the loss of sleep and free time, the fleas and vomit and diarrhea, the potential at any moment for a life to gutter out no matter our efforts – but not everyone is. A lot of folks who foster only want older, healthy kittens who will provide the most amount of cuteness for the least amount of effort. And during “kitten season”, when the shelters are all overrun, that’s okay! Thousands of healthy, happy kittens need foster homes until they can be adopted. But we know, and Bast knows, that we’ll always opt to take the risky little runts over the sure-bets any day. It’s who we are, to both our blessing and our detriment.

I absolutely couldn’t do this work without my faith in Bast, and I absolutely couldn’t do it without Chriselle. I’m so lucky to have a partner who is strong, patient, and an endless well of love and caring. Her veterinary knowledge and dedication make it possible for us to foster day-old kittens who need hourly bottle feeding or sick kittens who need constant care and vigilance. She provides the medical support – I just provide the love and prayers. Together, we seem to make a pretty good team. It’s a tough road, no lie, yet I still kneel at Bast’s altar once a week and tell Her, let me do Your will in this world. And this is how She responds.

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Twix (left) and Candycorn (right) who we lost within days of each other.

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Thomas, the first foster we lost.