It has been a really difficult journey for us – to find someone to care for Midnight and to make sure that Midnight lives a comfortable life. This is her story.
Midnight at the vet. Photo by Nicholas Yeo, shot for the Nanyang Chronicle
It is close to midnight when I got the text. “Midnight’s eye has gotten much worse,” it says. It’s from one of our coordinators – Joan Ng, who has been taking care of the cats in Hall 10 and Hall 11 for nearly four years now.
She sends a picture. It’s unbearable to see, really – Midnight’s eye had turned into a bulbous red, the result of missing her medication for several days.
We had decided to let her go home – to where she used to roam, outside Canteen 11 – because we believed it was best for her to stay there. She had persistent liver and kidney issues – and high-blood pressure meant she had to be on a daily dose of amlodipine. Somehow, because someone left food outside for her, she missed her dose.
We trapped her and made the preparations for her to go to the vet the next morning.
And so began the emergency fundraising we held for Midnight last year. We realised we didn’t have enough money to feed all the cats. It was a scary proposition, because funding has always been scarce for us; attempting to fundraise is a Herculean task that required a lot of effort on our part to spread the word.
It was fortunate – at that point – that we had fosterers, particularly Prof Jesse Thompson, to help us with ensuring the Midnight had her daily anti-inflammatory eye drop and blood pressure medicine. We could save money, by keeping Midnight with fosterers.
But that was the last time Midnight could be free – free, roaming around Hall 10 and Hall 11 – meowing at passers-by.
Midnight Is Back. Design: Wan Murni binte Wan Iskandar
Just a few weeks ago we had been optimistic – that the new status quo could be maintained if nothing changes, if we could continue to feed her medication where she always was.
We had put up Midnight is Back posters – in all black, the colour of her fur – to celebrate her return and to inform people to never, ever, feed Midnight.
I still see our ‘Midnight is Back’ posters around the halls, some dangling from the noticeboards, others still pinned up nicely – and I think of what could have been, if her condition had improved.
But this is the reality that we face. Cats get old, but they still remain picky. Anything bitter, they’ll reject it. Any alternative, they will get. We had hoped that she could have retained her freedom while still being healthy, but she couldn’t.
Midnight at Prof Thompson’s apartment. Photo: Ng Yi Shu
This didn’t mean that we abandoned her; to the contrary, we spent a lot of effort taking care of her. When the winter term break came, and Prof Thompson had to go overseas, our main committee members took care of her (alongside Robbie and Champion).
Midnight was – and still is – remembered as a sweet girl when she was being fostered. She purred on laps and was a great companion; like most animals she was afraid of thunderstorms and would hide in the adjacent bathroom if she ever heard any.
But as Champion – who required constant care for his allergy to dust and mosquitoes – couldn’t really live with Midnight, we had to find another person to take care of her.
Soon, she was transferred to the care of Prof Kathrin Albers, with one huge living room all by herself. She slept everywhere – the Albers’ bedroom, the living room – she watched as birds flew across the windows of the apartment.
Midnight at Prof Albers’ home. Photo: Nicholas Yeo, shot for the Nanyang Chronicle
That happened until mid-March, when Midnight’s condition took a turn for the worse. Her kidney problem deteriorated, and she was soon required to have subcutaneous hydration to keep her hydrated. It was an intensive job; doing so nearly every day required our fosterer to learn things like keeping Midnight still, jabbing her with a needle and injecting 100-200ml of fluid underneath her skin.
She soon had to be hooked up to an IV drip at the vet – and have four medications just to keep her blood chemistry normal. And even that couldn’t help.
Midnight at the vet, being petted by one of the vet staff. Photo: Nicholas Yeo, shot for the Nanyang Chronicle
We decided to transfer Midnight to Love Kuching Project – where she would be in the care of people who really understood what quality of life actually means. That required us to do a lot of waiting – LKP often doesn’t have space for cats, and being a no-kill shelter not all cats would be admitted.
Midnight at Love Kuching Project. Photo: Jow Lee Ying
It’s difficult for you, the reader, to fathom this – but the average age of community cats, including cats in NTU – have been increasing since the advent of Trap-Neuter-Return programs. We are now dealing with a whole host of problems that previous generations would have rarely encountered – death by old age, for one – and health problems faced by elderly cats.
How do you deal with the loss of a campus icon? How do you deal with the loss of a friend to so many undergraduates and graduates? Some have done so irrationally – when Robbie was suffering from pancreatitis, there were alumni that demanded that we set him free if he was ever going to die. Unker should die at home, they told us. Live free, die free. Others have told us that there was essentially no use in caring for a dying campus cat. Nobody cares, they contend – we’re wasting our effort.
But we press on. We couldn’t have made it without the help of so many – faculty fosterers, volunteers and staff. We couldn’t have made it without the help of donors. We are grateful and heartened that so many actually care – and so many trust us in making key decisions.
And we again need your help. Midnight racked up a $1,365.40 bill while at the vet – and we will need your help to cover the costs. Here’s how you can donate:
1) Contact Shao Yu via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your email will be logged into our mailing list via a voluntary data collection form. We will send updates about NTU Cat Management Network through the mailing list, which you may choose to unsubscribe if you like.
2) After contacting Shao Yu, transfer your desired amount into OCBC Frank 5374-0519-3001, Shao Yu
This can be done via Internet Banking or directly at any POSB/DBS ATM or Cash Deposit Machine.
3) Once we have received the transfer, we will send you an electronic acknowledgement. A receipt will be mailed to you if you request so.