I visited Chengdu, China’s Sichuan Province, towards the end of July 2018. For the Good Food Hero Summit, we were providing vegan catering. The Good Food Foundation arranged the event, which was held in a 5-star hotel in the city’s core. As we neared the hotel one night on our way back from dinner, I observed something strange.
It was a filthy white stray cat resting next to an ATM on the corner of the street!
Her state was startling, and I initially mistook her for dead.
She gently lifted her head, opened her little lips, and uttered a barely audible meow as I stroked her. She was thin, filthy, and had a foul odor. We sprung into action right away. While my companions hurried to a local convenience shop to obtain some food and water for the cat, I stayed with her, offering her confidence and a loving touch.
She was severely dehydrated and struggled to eat and drink.
We couldn’t do much for her because it was late, so all we could do was make sure she had enough food and drink till the next morning, when shelters would be open and we could phone around for aid. The cat was famished for affection and attention, and she couldn’t decide whether she preferred the food or the coos and strokes we gave her.
We didn’t have much of an option except to return to the motel. That night, I had a hard time sleeping since I was worried about the cat’s safety. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise so I could go out and give her some more food and get her the help she so desperately needed.
She had a bit more energy now, but she was still weak and sick, said Nikki Botha.
We phoned every shelter we could think of, but all of them said the same thing: “Sorry, we can’t help her; we’re full.”
I was completely out of it. On the streets, this cat wouldn’t live another week. One of my Chinese acquaintances advised that we seek assistance from the monks at a local Bhuddist monastery. I was so hoping that the monks would be able to assist me. However, the monastery informed us that the monks are too busy praying to care for an animal.
I was enraged and agitated. I didn’t know what to do, but I wasn’t about to quit up. That wasn’t good enough for the cat.
I wrote on social media about what was going on, and a buddy provided me the contact information for Chengdu Animal Rescue. We didn’t try it since it was the only rescue group we didn’t attempt. I reached out to a woman named Sarah, who informed us without hesitation that we should take the cat to their veterinarian, and that they (the organization) would gladly accept her. I was overjoyed!
I grabbed a box and dashed to the location where we discovered her. She had vanished.
We sought for her everywhere. We inquired of nearby shopkeepers, but no one had seen her or knew where she had gone. My stomach dropped. But I wasn’t going down without a fight. For as long as I was in Chengdu, I was going to look for her every morning and every night.
I walked around the place where we first found Fengmi every morning and every night for the following few days.
Every morning and night, I put out food, but it went untouched. Every day, I asked the same people whether they saw Fengmi and provided them instructions on how to contact me if they did. I kept Sarah from Chengdu Animal Rescue informed and provided her with daily updates. The absence of Fengmi was both distracting and discouraging. I was unable to concentrate on anything else and was unable to sleep. My heart was in shambles, and I was constantly berating myself for abandoning yet another animal.
We went out for supper again one evening. I decided to return to the hotel via cab (the others were going to take a stroll back). I needed to hurry back to the hotel so I could prepare a MISSING CAT sign to post in the neighborhood.
My hotel room phone rang just as I finished the poster. It was one of my acquaintances.
“Nikki. Get down to reception as soon as possible. Simply come. Quickly.”
I slammed the phone down and bolted from my room like a bat from hell. I had no clue what was going on, but my friend’s eagerness made me nervous. My heart was beating and I thought it was about to burst out of my chest.
They found Fengmi!
They went by Fengmi’s place on their way back from the restaurant, and lo and behold. She was right there.
They were not going to take any chances, knowing that I had been searching for her for days. Fengmi was picked up by one of my friends, placed in her luggage, and snuck into the hotel.
I was on the verge of hysteria. I was sobbing and laughing uncontrollably out of pure pleasure and relief. Because it was too late to take her to the vet (the clinic having already closed), she had to spend the night with us in the room. I didn’t worry about the ramifications if we were discovered at that moment. It didn’t matter to me whether they threw me out of the hotel.
All that mattered to me was that Fengmi was safe.
I still had the box I bought when I first planned to take her to the vet before she vanished. My buddies prepared the box for her as we bathed her (which she didn’t enjoy but couldn’t fight against).
They built her a cozy bed out of my sweater and placed food and drink in two empty, spotless ashtrays. I informed Sarah that we had located her and that we would take her to the veterinarian first thing in the morning. Huddled in the box, she made such a wretched little figure. We paid her some attention before leaving her alone since we didn’t want to stress her out any further.
I secretly hoped she’d have the courage to climb into my bed in the middle of the night for a warm, reassuring embrace. She didn’t do it. Regardless, knowing that Fengmi’s life had just transformed, I slept soundly that night.
She was transported to the veterinarian the next morning.
She was given medication and was put on a drip. Her diagnosis was stomatitis, and the most frequent treatment was to remove all of her teeth.
But the vet was going to do all he could to see if there was anything else he could do to prevent it from happening.
Despite his best attempts, Fengmi was forced to undertake the pricey procedure. My stomach churned when Sarah emailed me images of Fengmi’s lips after the surgery.
I was in tears once more. It appeared to be excruciatingly painful, and I knew Fengmi’s rehabilitation would be lengthy. Things were about to become a lot worse before they got better. I trembled at the prospect of her vet expense.
I desperately wanted to help, but I didn’t have any money because I was in Chengdu as a volunteer and did most of my work on a volunteer basis. I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it is for non-profit organizations to raise funds. And, on top of that, how difficult it is for them to find homes for animals that are given to them.
Once again, I was in tears. It looked incredibly uncomfortable, and I knew Fengmi’s recovery would take a long time. Before things got better, they were going to get a lot worse. I shuddered at the thought of her having to pay for her vet bills.
I urgently wanted to contribute, but I didn’t have any money because I was volunteering in Chengdu and doing most of my job for free. I’ve personally witnessed how tough it is for non-profits to raise donations. Plus, how tough it is for them to find homes for animals that have been given to them.
I’m not going to give up on Fengmi. I was going to conclude her rescue narrative with a fairy tale conclusion one way or another. Or, at the very least, I’ll try all I can to obtain that outcome.
Fengmi doesn’t speak the same language as any person on the earth, but I’m confident that if she could, she would express her gratitude for your generosity over and over again.
In the meanwhile, I’ll have to serve as her interpreter.
THANK YOU for being a member of the community that came together to help this one, lonely cat. May Fengmi serve as a reminder of the power of teamwork and modest efforts to make a difference.
The global language of love, it appears, was enthusiastically accepted all throughout the world. She may never have had the chance to succeed before, but she would now.
Fengmi’s campaign target of $2600 was not only met, but they also collected a total of $3,375 USD for her! Even excellent was the additional unique information supplied.
OUR OBJECTIVE HAS BEEN ACHIEVED!!!! We have no words to express our gratitude to each and every one of you who gave and shared. The outpouring of love and support has completely overwhelmed us!
Fengmi will get her own house for Christmas thanks to all of you!!!
It didn’t take her long to become a contented kitten that didn’t give a damn about anything.
She got to explore a huge, nice bed, which obviously implies some fun beneath the covers as well!
What a luxury to have your own scratching bed! Fengmi now has the answer to that question as well, and she will be sure to show her thanks.
Fengmi became a member of my family on Saturday, March 2, 2019, and what a lovely surprise! We pictured ourselves meeting a fearful and timid tiny waif. We were completely incorrect! That was at the airport, and she was talkative, aware, and not the least bit bashful.
We let her out of her travel cage when we got home, and she instantly requested attention and stomach tickles. Isn’t it adorable? I don’t know everyone who was connected with Fengmi at various points in her life, but I’d want to express my gratitude to each person who provided her with the love and support that allowed her to grow into the confident and well-adjusted woman she is today. Thank you very much!