My friend’s orange kitty, Sage, is selective about who gets to hang out with her, for how close and for how long.
My efforts to promote animal welfare do not impress her one bit.
My repertoire of animal knowledge is worth less a kibble to her.
But, if I know my place, Sage doesn’t mind eating a store bought treat from my hand. This means not trying to touch her when she’s trying to eat, or assuming that just because I have the means to buy things, I’m King.
Sage reminds me that I’m only a creature, just like her.
So whenever I need a dose of reality & liberation from egoistic tendencies, I make an appointment with Sage.
And Bella has gone home to God. Even though we’re sad to lose him, we’ll not let fear or hate win.
Given the threats of animal predators and manmade errors that community cats face daily, Bella’s 16 years on earth is a miracle.
When he was a kitten with gender still unknown, the Canadian swim team named him Bella.
The student athletes whispered their secrets to him.
Local & international coaches & staff fed him or asked about him.
Visitors and parents took pictures of him, and sometimes with him (far away in the background).
Overseas athletes saved up their allowance to buy him treats.
Adults helped out with his veterinary needs.
Despite having a low tolerance for touch, and a high need for distance, Bella has succeeded in bringing many people & nationalities together. He has taught us to be generous with our heart, our money, and our time. And love doesn’t mean ownership.
Rest well, Bella Boy. Even though your entry into & exit from this world were not ideal, in between you were loved by many, and now multi-faith prayers from Singapore to Cambodia, and beyond Asia to the West are being dedicated to you. 🙏❤️
She has an enclosure to herself with food, water, litter box and a bed for her comfort. She is medicated and syringe fed to keep her as comfortable as possible.
When I prayed outside her enclosure a couple of days ago, she stopped pacing about and came towards me as if drawn to the recitation of the Medicine Buddha Mantra.
She pressed her face against the wire mesh, let me hold her paws as she stood on her hindlegs for quite some time while I bent as low as my joints would allow me to recite the mantra in her ears.
Throughout this session there was no pity and no dread, but peace between the cat and me.
Because of Gin Mei’s willingness to come to me despite not being familiar with me, I was also able to place my *mala bracelet on the top of her head to bless her further.
The cat’s response to the mantra offering to ease her difficulty is open to interpretation. But for me it shows that animals are not only sentient, but they might be as spiritual as we are.
So even in the most desperate of situations where all medical resources have been exhausted, we must remember we still have the one medicine that goes beyond life & death, and that is our mantras & prayers. ❤️🙏
*mantra – sanskrit word meaning “sacred words”, “chants”, etc that are repeated to aid focus and create beneficial outcomes.
*mala bracelet – prayer beads. This particular one was lovingly made by a friend who meditates regularly & does charity work in Cambodia.
This afternoon I lit a butter lamp to give thanks for a black cat who went missing for nearly 2 months, but was found unharmed.
Tam Tam was born & raised at the animal shelter. Black cats are the most overlooked adoptees. So we can imagine his shelter caregivers’ joy that at 3 years old he managed to find a home. However, unbeknownst to his shelter family, his adoptive family allowed Tam Tam to roam.
One day he went out & didn’t come home. When the shelter people learnt that Tam Tam had gone missing, they posted notices and searched anxiously for their little black prince.
Had he met with an accident since he had little understanding of motor traffic because he wasn’t born on the street? Or had he met a python since he was lost in a forested area?
Is a black cat really so unlucky that even an adoption is shortlived?
Nonetheless I raised a butter lamp for Light to guide Tam Tam to safety, and if he had met with a mishap, may he and his caregivers find peace.
A day after offering the butter lamp, I received news that Tam Tam was finally located taking refuge in someone’s compound. Alive. 🙏
This morning at the shelter, he was one of the first cats to come running to greet us at the sliding door. He chased the others around & climbed up the gate leading to the kennels to peer at the dogs. At one point the obsidian feline was seen supervising the humans on the correct way of raising prayer flags.
We will never know where Tam Tam wandered after he got lost, and how he was able to meet someone who didn’t chase him away because he was black, but let him remain in his compound & even fed him.
Tam Tam had scores of people combing the forest for him and his lost post notice was shared over 100 times on social media.
He showed me that it is the care given, and not the colour we’re born with, that determines our luck. 🙏❤️
Of all the manifestations or portrayals of the Buddha, I feel drawn to the one with curls on his head.
Somehow he felt Nepali to me. In 2011, before my first trip to Nepal I made a trip to the Tkechen Choling temple in Beatty Lane. I told him that I was going to visit his country & asked for his blessings on the medicines & veterinary supplies that we were bringing for the street dogs.
I’m old school in the sense that if I’m visiting a country for the first time, especially one with known spiritual traditions, I have a compelling urge to declare my intentions.
Today we were at the temple to light butter lamps. I lit a lamp for a beloved shelter cat that is lost and the people who are searching for him. May the Light guide him to safety. If he has left his physical form, may the Light embrace his soul & neutralise all negative imprints & comfort the people who love him.
Whether it is just by the window of my home, or in the presence of a sacred figure of reverence, dedicating a light is one of the ways of expressing respect, support and affection.
And today I also learnt for the first time that the Nepali Buddha I’ve been speaking to for the past 11 years regarding my medicine journeys for animals is none other than the Medicine Buddha himself.
May we be guided as we seek to improve our own lives and the lives of others.
Two days back I lit a butter lamp at the temple for my Christian friend to honour his departed soul. Light is a universal medium of blessing at all stages of life. It does not discriminate between life or death, happy or sad.
My late friend was a man of few words and not given to outward display of emotions.
Some years back, he quietly fed the cat taking refuge under his Volkswagen at his condo. He named him Winfred, and defended him when the neighbour accused the feline of spoiling the paintwork of his Mercedes Benz.
My friend took Winfred to the vet when he was ill, sheltered him when he needed a place to recover, and buried him in a safe place when he passed away so that the orange tabby would never have to stray.
Yesterday I made a donation in my late friend’s name to an animal shelter. He who made us sandwiches on long days at work and allowed me to ransack his work station for snacks & meji biscuits would have approved of money going to the dogs & cats too.
After helping the shelter, the thought of a specific animal rescuer who would appreciate some help came to mind. But I too have a budget to stick by.
Late last night I received a text message from a Catholic friend. She did not know of our Christian friend’s passing nor my wish to help the Muslim lady who works two jobs to help animals.
“Don’t know why but I suddenly had a feeling that I urgently need to transfer some money to you to help some animal,” she texted.
And the sum that my Catholic friend wanted to give away was the exact amount that the Muslim rescuer needed to cover some of the care expenses for an aging dog.
So today on Chokhor Duchen which marks the day when Buddha gave his first teaching, I want to share magic, generosity, kindness and trust in people around us and the ones who have gone before us.
Regardless of our heritage, may our life’s choices put us on the path of compassion & wisdom, for our benefit and the benefit of all sentient beings. 🙏
Shelter cats, Cauliflower Boy & Hoonie aka Divina, were recently treated to a day at the cat spa, courtesy of groomer turned friend, Ong Hong Kuen.
Cats are by nature self cleaning until old age and other infirmities strike. Much like humans, the untidy old woman or dishevelled old man we see at bus stops or food courts must have been dashing once.
On each shelter trip, my friend,Marcus Tan for all his adherence to principles of aesthetics, makes it a point to check on the animals that may not receive as much attention, because they’re not as cute as their younger & healthier counterparts.
In fact, it was him who got me started on cleaning Divina’s face and untangling her knots while he held her. Unlike dogs, cats are more wary and less cooperative with fur cleaning & nail trimming.
Besides, I’m no groomer and the wrong choice of tools can lead to dire outcomes. Therefore I understand for want of skills and equipment, it is still better to have an unkempt looking animal than an injured or bleeding one.
That day at the shelter we did what we could with Divina and as Cauliflower Boy was not familiar with us, we decided to ask for professional help.
And the Universe answered swiftly.
Within a week, our professional groomer friend turned up at the shelter and took both Cauliflower Boy & Divina in her car back to her salon for some needed spa treatment. ON THE HOUSE. She would hear nothing of payment, transport charges etc.
Under her loving hands and in the calm ambience of their surroundings, both cats had an enjoyable session and a complete makeover.
Cauliflower Boy’s milky white bib returned. Once the stains came off, his fluffy belly shone like cotton candy. Divina’s ears cleared and her persian fur regained its gossamar texture.
Little did we know that all the above changes were perhaps in preparation for a miracle about to manifest.
Yesterday, we received news that Cauliflower Boy got adopted!!!
Yes, the boy cat with the deformed ear hence the name Cauliflower, and with a low adoptability potential, has found his home!
And as if to signify a departure from his past afflictions, Cauliflower Boy’s adopter has changed his name to Bernie. ❤️
As for Divina, she will continue to receive love and generate miracles for others at the shelter until such a time a special human appears for her.
In a couple of days, the New Moon will be upon us. May our recent witnessing of how two disadvantaged cats receive new lease of life, also encourage all who read this post that renewal is as much a state of mind and a matter of intention as it is dependent on external factors.
And so may we maximise our capacity as conduits for positive transformations & renewal regardless of how bleak the situation may appear.🙏
This recent full moon observation on 14 April 2022 was extra special to me. Not only it was Good Friday, but it also marked New Year for friends of Nepalese and Khmer heritage.
The confluence of the above high holidays got me on the lookout for auspicious items that would align with the idea of death & resurrection, release & renewal to dedicate a full moon mandala.
However, the reality was eversince Emmanuel the Cat was diagnosed with diabetes a month ago, I’ve been preoccupied with syringes, insulin vial & blood glucose tracking.
As someone with a nervous disposition, I was at first terrified of handling the sharp needles and getting the dosage wrong for Emmanuel. This was apart from having to locate the injection site without making the cat suspicious & without injecting myself accidentally.
It got to a point where my anxiety levels were tied to the fluctuations in Emmanuel’s blood glucose readings.
Doubts filled my waking hours and even in my sleep. Did I really insert the needle correctly? Did the insulin go under his skin? Did I over feed him?
Yesterday I had a mental breakthrough of sorts. I realised I can and should medicate my 15-year old cat to the best of my ability & means, but the medical outcomes are not mine to decide.
That acceptance also liberates me as a caregiver from the fear of not doing enough or not doing it right. Such fears when left unchecked, can turn mean & morph into accusations against the patient for not trying hard enough to get well.
And this morning, as if to show his approval of my approach to his medical issue, Emmanuel turned around to lick my hand as soon as I pushed the plunger to deliver the insulin under his skin. 🙏
Last week, one of my cats, Emmanuel, was admitted for diabetes. His conditions have since stabilised and will be discharged soon.
Since March last year, Emmanuel & Oliver have been waking me up at all kinds of hours through their daily territorial disputes.
Sleep deprived & anxiety-ridden, I wandered the mall last Friday in hope of getting a new cat carrier for Emmanuel’s follow up vet trips as the current one has rusted and is being held together by cable ties.
Emmanuel is 15. Oliver is 16. Both cats are as healthy as can be given their age. But realistic as I am, signs of ill health trigger memories of the suffering of my 10 cats and 1 dog before they passed on over the years. And in Emmanuel’s case, concerns over if I can administer the twice daily insulin jabs occupied my mind.
In the midst of meditating on syringes, the image of the world’s largest mandala, the Boudha Stupa came to me. I was gently reminded to unfetter my mind by accepting all things.
And as I was about to pick up the new cat carrier & head home, a friend texted to ask if we could meet up for tea.
Tea? How could I have time for tea? Don’t you know I’m in the midst of a meltdown? But I resisted my self-centered habitual responses and said “Yes” to tea. And yes, worrying is so dangerously seductive. It gives a false impression of feeling responsible even as it keeps the worrier fixated & drained.
During tea, my friend found out that his evening appointment had been postponed. Since I had no plans except to worry, I accepted his invitation to see the art space he had set up to pursue his pottery passions.
Still thinking of syringes, I was content to just watch my friend at the studio throwing a pot on his newly acquired potter’s wheel.
But he being generous, insisted that I gave the clay a go. He would help me touch up the final product if needed.
And so on Friday evening, while my cat received intravenous fluid at the clinic, I sat at the potter’s wheel in my friend’s studio to connect with the silkiness of wet clay and the coolness of water as I attempted to throw a pot for the first time in 36 years.
As I leaned my elbows on the basin for added stability as taught by my friend, and held the lump of clay firmly in both hands, my breath returned. A centering peace soon emerged from the spinning mandala of a potter’s wheel. It seeped into my fingers, travelled up my arms, touched my shoulder & ascended my head through my neck.
And in that moment, my mind was still even as everything before me was in motion. Sitting at my friend’s potter’s wheel was the break I needed to be unhinged from the cycle of constant worrying & feeling of inadequacy.
I wish all who are reading this post timely inspiration from the Divine and supervision of wise friends in your hour of need.🙏
First Tutee and his uncle dropped by with Nasi Lemak today to wish me Happy Chinese New Year.
First Tutee is now nearly 11 years old, as tall as me and seeing Ollie for the first time since 2020.
Pleased that Ollie still remembered him, and that the scene outside the window where he used to sit to practise his spelling and writing, had remained unchanged, he gushed shyly about spotting his childhood sweets on my dining table.
I asked him to help himself to the White Rabbit Milk Candy pieces. I had prepared a new bag of them for him to bring home later on.
As he unwrapped the candy, he mentioned several times that White Rabbits were his favourite childhood sweets and that he was also born in the Year of the Rabbit.
First Tutee’s delight at seeing Ollie and recalling the names of Hakim, Kitty & China Black who have since passed on, his smiling at the sweets of his childhood and feeling right at ease in a space where he started his preparation to enter primary school showed me a reunion doesn’t always have to revolve around a big meal.
Food & drinks aside, a reunion is also about returning to the people & place that make us feel supported.
And if reunions are meant to evoke memories to embolden us to move forward, then it is wise that during that encounter we refrain from fishing for details in someone else’s personal life unless they are offered on their own accord.
Going home for reunions is such a big deal across cultures & evokes many conflicting emotions in some. May each reunion be a time of reconciliation and mutual support like the one that took place with First Tutee today.