Monday, February 19, 2018

The Rescued Interviews: Sparky

Meows from Mudpie!

Back in 2015 Angel Truffles started interviewing the cats featured in Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes, an anthology of rescue cat stories compiled by Janiss Garza, who writes the Sparkle Cat blog. She was unable to see it to completion but I was more than honored to continue the series once I settled into my forever home and took full reins of our blog. Now Rescued Volume 2 is on store shelves and it's my goal to interview as many of the kitties as possible once again! (If you missed our review, it can be found here.)

Each author featured in the book has nominated a cat rescue and was assigned a month to promote the book, with a third of the profits from that month going to their rescue. February's spotlight is Sparky, a cat who was the victim of an unspeakable act of cruelty, yet somehow she managed to beat the odds stacked against her and live to tell her story...

Welcome Sparky! Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. Could you start by introducing yourself to us and telling us what made your story such a good fit for the Rescued anthology?

Hi Mudpie.

Thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very shy, and I’ve never been interviewed before so please bear with me if I’m a little nervous. My name is Sparky, short for Sparkles. I’m also called Scrat sometimes but mostly, my humans refer to me as Your Majestic Splendiferousness: The Master Cat of Planet Cat and All of the Universe. Tee, hee. Ignorant humans! They don’t know that every cat is the master cat and we cats are all equal but infinitely superior to all other species.

I’m from Africa but I now live in New Zealand. My kitty mother is known as The Elusive Butterfly because nobody has managed to capture her yet despite their best efforts. If by some miracle I had managed to escape the box of death on my own, I would have been exactly like her. As it turns out, I was very lucky to have been rescued as a tiny kitten, in the nick of time and my story is one of hope and healing.

You were the victim of horrific, unthinkable abuse as a teeny tiny baby. How did you manage to ever trust humans again?

I don’t trust humans. The only people who ever get to see or touch me are my human “parents”. If I hear a knock at the door I’m still overcome by terrible fear and I immediately run and hide under the bed. I don’t come out again until I can sense the strangers have left. It has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. As a tiny kitten, just after my rescue and before I fully understood the enormity of what had happened to me, I used to allow humans to see and touch me, but no longer. I’m not sure I will ever be healed completely.

The title of your story in the Rescued anthology is "It's Not Over Until the Cat Lady Sings". What do you want animal abusers to know about the power of us cat ladies?

Don’t mess with a cat lady on a mission. Cat ladies are very special people and when they encounter cruelty to animals, it unleashes their superpowers. They are very determined people and they will stop at nothing and leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of justice. Hurting an animal in any way flips a switch in their brains.

You now share an extra special bond with the lady you call Gentle Hands. Tell us how you found each other and the life you have together.

Hmmm, I think I’ll leave your subscribers to find out for themselves how we ended up together. Our story is in the Rescued anthology but I’ve had a very, very eventful life since the telling of my story in Rescued Vol 2.

As the political situation in my home country, South Africa, deteriorated, my humans felt we would all have a brighter future in a more stable country. They sold up everything and we all, feline and human, went through a very rigorous immigration process before we were accepted as residents of New Zealand. After the long quarantine and accompanying medical tests and injections to ensure we were fit and healthy enough to travel, early on the morning of 15 February 2017, we cats were each locked up in a wooden crate which was secured by the seal of the State Vet. This seal was to remain unbroken if we were to be granted entry into New Zealand. In our crates, all we had was a water bowl attached to the mesh door and a blanket. My blanket was my only link with home and security. I immediately crawled right under it in an attempt to shut out the terrible ordeal. I thought it was the box all over again. I was sick with fear The three weeks at the quarantine facility without the comforts of home and the warm laps to sit on, were bad enough but nothing compared to the arduous journey ahead.

From the quarantine station we were transported by road to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. There we had to wait in the cargo warehouse with nothing but water - no food and no litter box. My wooden crate was so uncomfortable and I was starving. The time passed so slowly as our crates were loaded onto a wooden pallet and secured with a cargo net. By 6pm we were loaded into the cargo hold of the plane. I cannot find words to express how terrifying this experience was but the worst was yet to come. As the engines of the huge jet roared into life at around 7pm, I thought the end of the world had come. We cats are all very clean creatures by nature but we soiled ourselves in our crates and had to sit in our own filth for at least another 20 hours.

For me, the worst of it was the take off. My ears hurt, not just from the noise in the cargo hold but with a deep ache. I don’t remember much after the take off. I think I must have slept or perhaps I passed out but we were airborne for nearly 12 hours before we began the descent into Sydney, Australia. My ears began to hurt again as we descended. Then suddenly we began to ascend again. Our plane couldn’t land in Sydney as planned because of the weather conditions. We were redirected to Canberra. It took another hour to Get to Canberra but our ordeal was still far from over. While the human passengers were allowed to disembark and stretch their legs while the plane was refuelled and we waited for the weather to improve, we were left in the stuffy hold of the plane. It was now more than 24 hours since we had last eaten anything. After several hours of waiting, the plane finally roared into life and we flew to Sydney. Our connecting flight to Wellington had long since departed without us. After we were unloaded from the plane we had to spend the night in a draughty warehouse at Sydney Airport.

Luckily the veterinarians in charge decided to unseal our crates at this point and I ravenously devoured the food they provided. I barely noticed them pulling my soiled blanket out of my crate past me. I think I slept a few hours on the bare planks of my crate because the next thing I recall was the sensation of being lifted as the forklift loaded the pallet into the plane. We took off again and headed across the Tasman Sea to Wellington, New Zealand. By this point, I was simply numb. When our plane began to descend and then incredibly, ascended again, I felt nothing but de ja vu; no fear, just resigned acceptance of my fate, whatever that may be. It was the box experience all over again. The weather in Wellington was too windy for the plane to land. My companions and I were on our way to Auckland for another lengthy layover.

After several hours of waiting in the plane, we finally took off again and were on our way to Wellington at last. Not even the bumpy landing in windy Wellington registered any emotion in me. I was drained. We were jolted and jiggled around some more, made to wait while the paperwork was completed and the New Zealand state vet signed off and then we were loaded onto another vehicle for the two hour road trip to the quarantine station in Levin.

Our journey from the South African quarantine station to the New Zealand one took longer than 48 hours, more than double the time it should have.

It was with very shaky legs that I finally stepped out of my crate into the spacious and comfortable enclosure at the facility in Levin. I didn’t even mind the staff bathing me. It was so good to feel clean again and to have a soft, comfortable bed to settle into. It wasn’t home but I was very grateful to be on terra firma.

The next day our humans were allowed to visit. I was very disappointed when they left. I didn’t understand they would come back for us. Over the next 11 days, we gradually got used to the new smells and sensations of a country so far from where we had been born. At the end of the quarantine period I had a new home to get used to but at least my people were there.

I’ve been a kiwi kitty for a year now. We’ve all settled in well here and I love my new home. At the end of December my first kiwi born brother and sister were adopted and joined our family. Maddie and Vlad are adorable but I don’t like the way they hog my human “parents’” attention.

What shelter have you chosen to receive your proceeds from the book this month and why?

The Foundation for Homeless Cats in Arizona is my choice. They work very hard to make the lives of the cats in their community better. I had to single out one charity but I wish I could have given my support to all of them.

What do you hope people learn from your story and what would you like your lasting legacy to be?

I hope my story (and that of all the cats in the anthology) has made people aware of how important it is to be responsible about pet “ownership”. Our lives are in the hands of humans. Treat us with the love and respect we deserve as fellow citizens of this planet.

As for my legacy, I’m about to launch a new project with my humans. We know just how difficult it is for animal shelters to survive and we’d like to ensure there is always money available to rescue and rehabilitate homeless, abandoned and abused cats. Perhaps I could tell you about Fantail Fundraisers some time in the future but I think I’ve taken up enough of your time today.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to tell my tale Mudpie.


Summer at said...

That was a wild journey from South Africa to New Zealand - something even an adventuresome cat like me would not want to do! Sparky, you have more fortitude than you realize. Thanks for telling the story about your trip - although I know your story from the book, I was wondering how you got to New Zealand.

Lone Star Cats said...

Wow, what a trip! So glad ya got rescued Sparky.

The Menagerie Mom said...

Sparky has been through so much, yet she has handled it all like a trouper. What an inspiration!

Unknown said...

Wow, Sparky, what an arduous journey you had! I'm glad you're safe at home with your humans now.

Patricia T said...

Wow, Sparky sure went through a lot. Glad she is happy and safe, now.

Eastside Cats said...

Got leaky eyes reading your airplane story, Sparky! SO VERY GLAD that you have a loving home to replace those memories with.

Unknown said...

Sparky you and your family are amazing. Thank you for your story in Rescued Vol. 2 and here. We were so worried just reading about the quarantine and travel ordeals. Sending lots of love and light.
xoxo Your fellow author from Rescued 2 , Wu Kitty & her human

pilch92 said...

I am so glad this cutie was rescued. The trip from Africa to NZ sounds awful.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful story about you and your family. Wu Kitty and I think you're all amazing. Hugs.

Three Chatty Cats said...

Oh my, what a scary adventure you went on to become a kiwi kitty! Very glad you were rescued by Gentle Hands.