Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Please Forgive Me - Part 2

I have been giving contraceptive pills to the female strays for three years now without any feelings of guilt since they appear to be healthier and happier. With no young ones to nurse and fret over, their quality of life has improved and needless to say, mine has improved, too, in sync with theirs. Then, everything changed...............

About a month ago I heard a loud meow at the back of the house and on investigation, found a hungry female cat begging for food. I didn't have the heart to shoo her off so I did what most people would have done.......gave her some food. I knew that this single act of kindness would be interpreted as an invitation for more meals. I was not wrong in my assumption for Kitty ( I decided to call her that) not only expected to be fed twice daily but also decided to make the premise her home. So, I felt justified that she be put on the pill, too, like the rest of the female strays.

Of course I did all the preliminary examinations essentially important prior to starting her on family planning. A wrong move will have disastrous results. A pregnant cat will not show immediate results after swallowing the pill.  She will carry through to full term as if nothing had happened. The problem will only arise at the time when she goes into labour. In most cases, according to the vet, the cervix will not open and the only option left is surgery. With this in mind, I did a thorough examination on Kitty which was to view her abdomen from various angles!!! Satisfied that Kitty was not pregnant, I gave her the pill.

Kitty seemed happy and contented with her new home and she began to expand, belly included. The marked increase in belly size began to make me feel uncomfortable. Even my so-called expertise wasn't quite enough to tell the difference between a food-laden belly and a belly full of kittens!! My uneasiness over Kitty's ever-growing belly was driving me crazy. I called the vet to lessen the anxiety that was plaguing me but was told there was nothing he could do now. He advised me not to worry so  much. That wasn't good enough for me. I had to be further assured, so being a firm believer in the philosophy "Mothers Know Best", I did what I always do in times of trouble like this......sought my mother's opinion. After some thought and some mental calculation on when Kitty first came to stay with us, Mum attributed Kitty's overly rounded belly to her endless eating sprees!!! I hope she's right again this time.

I was never particularly bothered about giving them the pills before Kitty came into the scene. There had never been any mistakes, or so I thought, until one night while lying in bed thinking whether I had done the right thing to Kitty, the mysterious death of another female cat, Adik, two years ago was unfolded. I had done the same thing of giving her the contraceptives as I did with all the other females. She was OK throughout the one year she was with us until one evening I noticed she was not her normal self.  On inspection I noticed there was fluid oozing out of her genitals. I thought she had a fall or was bitten by something. The time was 5.30p.m. Friday 2008. I could have rushed her to the vet but she did not appear to be too much in pain for she could still walk. I thought she would be OK by tomorrow. That was to be a big mistake which had me feeling extremely guilty to this day. The next morning at 5a.m. I found her lying on her side unable to move. She could still open her eyes when I got near her and even to this day I still remember the painful groan she let out as if begging for help. There was nothing I could do to help ease her pain because the vet was closed every Saturday. She died a long and slow agonising death at 1.30a.m. Sunday. I never knew the cause of her death until that night just a few weeks ago. The realisation kept me awake the whole night. It took me two years to realise that she was, in fact, in labour when I noticed the fluid. Her small tummy belied the fact that she was pregnant.  She must have vomited one of the pills that I gave her fortnightly and mated during that period.

It was the stark realisation that made me feel guilty of the possibility of  repeating  the same mistake on Kitty. What's done cannot be undone so now I keep a close watch on her. and pray that she will not go into labour on Saturday. If, however, she decides to do it on a Saturday, then I will have to take her to the vet in  Sungai Petani. I looked up the Yellow Pages and discovered this vet and when I called to confirm, they told me it's opened everyday.

As at of this writing, Kitty does not eat as much as when she first came. She is no longer sluggish and I think her tummy has flattened out a bit. It was not mere imagination for Mother commented the same this morning. I hope and pray Kitty and the rest of the strays will not suffer the same fate as Adik, Insya Allah.

This picture was taken 2 weeks ago. Note the belly.

Also taken 2 weeks ago.

Picture taken yesterday 24th November.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Please Forgive Me - Part 1

The morning is bright and sunny here in Jitra. It's amazing how the weather is able to lift a person's mood. I have been feeling rather depressed and dejected lately, not because of the flood, but rather, a blunder I had committed out of sheer  ignorance.  Well, to be honest, not completely ignorant but let's just say I took a BIG risk when I did it and now I have to face the consequences.

I have been feeding stray cats ever since my mum took pity on a cat which eventually became a part of the family. Twenty years have passed and I am still as tolerant to strays as I was on that fateful day; the only difference being  the number of feline mouths I have to feed now as compared to only one, two decades ago. Over the years I have learnt a lot about cats and one very prominent one is that they multiply at a tremendous rate once they have enough to eat and this is the crux of my problem!

There is only one registered vet in the Kota Setar district and I am fortunate because his clinic is at Pumpong which is about 15 minutes drive from my place. It is through him that I seek help every time a cat falls ill. I know that one of the ways to prevent stray cat population explosion is to have the females spayed but this particular vet is not in favour of this procedure on the grounds that it is very invasive. The other alternative is to give them contraceptives and there are two ways of administering them, either orally or via injection. Both are equally troublesome for me but after some deliberation I opted for the former, oral contraceptives, solely because I am able to do it at home. The other method would require me to ferry them to the vet every three months and we are not talking one cat here but 8 at the time I decided to curb the population about 3 years ago, and still counting if no measures were taken. Now there are only 5 left and hopefully not counting. 

But, there are risks involved and the risks are more with oral contraceptives. Once swallowed, they will have to remain inside the the body for at least 4 hours to ensure that they are completely digested and fully ingested or simply put, the cat must not vomit for the duration of at least 4 hours after swallowing it. This is the trickiest part for me. These strays just come for the food. If I try to go near them, they will just back off. There is no way I can touch them, let alone caress and fondle them even after so many years of knowing each other!!! After they have had their fill, they just disappear. One of the reasons for this very uncatly behaviour is their fear for Tuah, my 12 year old male cat. Tuah has no qualms about chasing them away if they try to hang around. So, the strays know their routine which is to make their appearance once in the morning and once in the evening and then making their hasty exit. So, how in heaven's name do I keep tabs on them after giving them the pill? An impossible feat obviously but one which I have to gamble for the sake of keeping my sanity. Simple as it may sound,  the task of giving them the pills entails a lot of both patience and passion. Over the years I have perfected the art of administering the pills to them without having to touch them at all. 

To be continued

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clearing Up The Mess

I thought there won't be any more rain for a couple of weeks at least but it started again though  not as forceful as to trigger yet another flood, I hope. Most areas in Jitra  have dried up and judging from the mess caused by the flood, the victims are now faced with a more gruesome task of clearing up the mess. The little bit that I saw was enough to choke me and I didn't have the heart to take pictures of them trying hard to literally pick up the pieces. Most of them were engrossed in what they were doing, despair written all over their weary faces. However, there were some who just stood still gazing helplessly and blankly at the damage and the debris left by the flood. I did not want to appear inconsiderate and heartless driving around trying to record  their misery while they were toiling away. Besides, the stares that I got were enough to make me slump down as far as I could go in my seat. xnuripilot was left to deal with the questioning and occasionally hostile glances that were thrown at us as we drove past them, all by himself.

Generally speaking, life in Jitra has gone back to normal. The shops have resumed their businesses. Schools, banks and government offices and the airport have started operating again. There is not much evidence left of the disaster that had just ravaged the town except for the huge mountains of damaged furniture that were discarded outside.

The debris that got stuck to the gates of this house indicates the height of the water level in this area.

As at of this writing, this road is still littered with the debris left by the flood.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jitra As You've Never Seen Before

These pictures were posted by xnuripilot's friend Lt  Col Basri Omar PGB (R) from K.L. It would seem rather odd that we did not get to record all these ourselves being right in the middle of it all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Worst Is Over!

. Late yesterday evening, xnuripilot and I decided to check on the flood situation.

The sky was bright and clear along this Wang Tepus road. The road was still flooded but there was a lot of improvement.

The highway to Alor Setar was still closed to traffic.

The road to Taman Mahsuri was still under water.

The road leading to Jitra town was still under about a foot of water. This was as far as we could go yesterday evening.

There was a huge jam on our way home.

The weather was superb this morning so I persuaded xnuripilot to take me on a tour inspection of  Jitra town after his round of golf. We left the house at about 11a.m. and below are scenes I managed to capture as we drove along.

Father and child and fishing net.

We passed this river on our way to Jitra town. The level was still dangerously high and the current was strong. 

Even these buffaloes decided they've had enough of wallowing in the murky flood water. 

I've always been fascinated by these Asoka trees lining the whole length of the padi mill. They looked even more spectacular surrounded by water!

Most of the shops were still closed including Secret Recipe and Dr. Rozmey's spa at the back of it.

Petronas station in Jitra town was still in bad shape.

Taman Ehsan still half-submerged.

Sekolah Menengah Jitra (SMJ) 

The row of shops in Pekan Jitra 2. Almost back to normal. 

My cousin's house in Taman Mahsuri Permai. 

The river behind Taman Suasana. 

The road leading to the lake at Darulaman Theme Park is now visible again. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Getting Worse In Jitra!

We woke up in high spirits this morning since there had been  no rain for the past 24 hours. xnuripilot left the house at 7 a.m. for his round of golf with his buddies at the Darulaman Golf And Country Club. I was quite sure the flood was getting better until xnuripilot got home at 10.30 a.m. with more pictures of the flood shown below. Contrary to my assumption, the flood has worsened. The places which were still accessible to us yesterday are now under water! We are now marooned!!

Part of the highway to Alor Setar.

The road leading to Taman Mahsuri. We passed through this road yeasterday at 9a.m.

This is taken at the Wang Tepus-Darulaman Golf And Country Club junction. The bundles on the left are not heaps of rubbish but clothes and belongings salvaged by the flood victims.

One of the kampungs submerged by the flood.

A closer look at the same kampung.

The road leading up to Wang Tepus. Yesterday, the water was further up the road. Now, it has spilled  closer to our junction.

The entrance to Taman Mahsuri Fasa 2B.

The two guys in the water taking full advantage of the flood.....bathing and fishing !

The bridge connecting us to the surrounding areas.   If the river gets higher than the bridge, then there won't be any more pictures for my blog!!!! We will be completely cut off  from the outside world.

I am not able to take pictures of Jitra proper because there's no way of getting there from where we are.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flood Updates From Jitra

The rain finally stopped at about 7 this morning. This is the first time, since we moved here 10 years ago, there was a continuous heavy downpour for a record breaking 3days and 4 nights.  The last record was 2 days and 2 nights about 5 years ago and that caused a severe flood in the Kubang Pasu district.

Yesterday, xnuripilot and I drove to Alor Setar but we did not see any signs of  the 2005 flood repeating itself . The highway was glistening wet due to the heavy rain but there was no indication of an emerging flood. I did, however, comment to xnuripilot that the padi fields on both sides of the highway were like lakes. But, then they are always that way after every heavy downpour.... no cause for alarm was my conclusion.

Our housing area is on high ground. Except for the heavy rain, everything seemed perfectly normal until we heard the evening news on TV. It was a shock to see some parts of Kubang Pasu already submerged in flood!

Heavy rain continued all night long but we were still unaware of the actual situation surrounding us until xnuripilot and I once again decided to get some fresh vegetables from the Jitra wet market this morning. We were rudely greeted by the swelling river at the entrance to our housing area.

If it starts to rain again, then the water will swell into a friends house below.

This is the back portion of the friend's house at Suasana Permai. The water is seen inching its way into her backyard.

Cars are seen parked all along the roadside. These car owners managed to drive their cars up to higher ground before their houses got submerged.

Water is seen cascading down the road from Wang Tepus at the junction into Darulaman Golf and Country Club where our house is situated.

The entrance to Taman Mahsuri Phase 4  is impassable due to the rising water.

This is the lake at the Darulaman Theme Park. Ordinarily, the road leading up to the lake can be seen from this point but  now it has been inundated by the swollen lake making it impossible to tell where the road ends and the lake begins..

This is the main road from Kepala Batas into Jitra town. The flood water has gushed into this road starting from the Yawata supermarket. Even these huge lorries had to stop.

The road leading to Tanjung Pauh is completely under water.

A scene in Taman Aman, Jitra.
xnuripilot and I had to abandon our plan of getting to the market. There was no way we could get there, anyway.  The weather has been good the whole day today. Hopefully, everything goes back to normal tomorrow.