if you have been following the local cat blogs, you might have heard about a hoarding case of an old woman in a roach/maggot-infested 3-rm flat, which she shares with 40 unsterilised cats, 2 dogs and 2 tortoises.
it is rightly called a house of horrors, with black streaked walls, cobwebs, flying roaches, sick animals, dead animals, broken tiles over which animals defecate, everywhere. and in the midst of all these, a stubborn cranky suspicious forgotten old woman.
a couple of cat aunties discovered this and with understandable trepidation but unusual courage, took it upon themselves to help her. jamie and janet, i don't know what classes you did at school, for darn sure, everyone else should have gone to the same!
they started the ball rolling and inspired a lot of people along the way to get involved, the woman being one of them. Babywail's Shelter gives a complete rundown of the events surrounding this case, Lynn being one of the pioneer volunteers herself.
for sure, a case like this draws much attention and on some forums, even on Lynn's blog, there has been some contentious comments. some said that the old woman should be locked up, some said the animals should be taken away from her, some said that the volunteers are taking things into their own hands and the authorities should be involved, one even hoped the old lady will die soon.
our woman won't even be bothered to answer the person who posted that last comment.
her initial reaction from discovering this case was also that the old woman should be in a home as she seems to have a condition, obviously can't take care of herself, much less the animals. but upon meeting the old woman, she did an about turn.
this old woman is far from being non-functioning. and the bond between her and her animals is undeniable. she is frail for sure but lucid she still is, sometimes to the point of sharpness. she understands, but she is unable. she feels, but she is resigned. she doesn't have a mental problem. she is just trapped in the unforgiving state of being old and alone.
the final nail in the coffin of despair would be to take away the last of her freedoms and in particular, the little ones who love her so dearly when everyone else had gone away. she simply needs warm human bodies with friendly faces and willing hands, which in a world population of 6.684 billion, is in short supply.
so until the day we have a solution for the helpless that wouldn't conclusively break their human spirit, no easy decision can be made in a case like this and for better or worse, the authorities and the organisations have stayed distantly silent.
and so the day is saved by a swat team of cat aunties armed with face masks, shower caps, mops and cat traps. partial to both human and animals, they don't choose one over the other and save them all. they fundraised, they scrubbed, they sterilised, they befriended. their special ability? having ears close to the ground (often an excellent source of information), great powers of persuasion (try outtalking a cat auntie), speaks all the local dialects, networks with handy people like taxi drivers and contractors, garang, gung-ho, and most importantly, not afraid to get hands dirty.
it is our hope that when the conditions of the flat and the animals have stabilised and the old woman's trust in people regained, people will come back, family, social workers, befrienders. in the mean time, she has the formidable cat aunties and that is nothing to turn your nose up at.