EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: December's COTM is… The Whiskers' Syndicate

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

December's COTM is… The Whiskers' Syndicate

Emergency COTM is…. 
The Whiskers' Syndicate

nominated by Nicole of Brizel4TheAnimals 
Written by Josie of Whiscraft
Photos courtesy of TWS

Our Mission

The Whiskers' Syndicate is the first and only animal/cat rescue in Bandung, Indonesia. 

Since animal welfare does not yet exist here… our current mission is to introduce animal welfare and humane stray management by becoming a living example. We actively promote Trap - Neuter - Return in our community, and negotiate with community authority to allow us to practice TNR albeit without financial support. We understand that the majority of people just want the stray 'gone', regardless of the method, as long as their hand stays clean; and it has been one of the biggest challenges for us every single time. 

However, with continuous TNR as well as proper care of feral cats, we hope to show that properly managed ferals can coexist peacefully with humans. With good faith, we hope the mustard seed we sow will eventually lead to betterment of every animals' life.

Our Story

Being born into a family of animal lovers, rescue work was a natural part of life for me at a young age; but in the spring of May 2008 when I relocated to Bandung for work, I had no idea just how much of my life would become dedicated to saving animals.

You see, I got used to being at the top in my hometown. I was a straight 'A' student with lines of scholarships and titles behind my name. Granted I started as a school teacher (part time work before I graduated) but once I made the jump I kept climbing the corporate ladder. Until one day I asked myself: “Now what?”

When a former client of my workplace called me with an offer, I just packed up and left everything to start all over. Everyone said I was crazy, but I would have been if I didn't find something to keep my brain and passion moving. So, I got a brand new job, in a brand new holding company (of one of the largest textile machinery company in South East Asia), as an assistant to the brand new CEO, and then received my first promotion within 3 months! Fabulous? Not really. I just ran fast because I wanted to move out already. 

This town appalled me from every side, especially with the way people treated each other, and more to the point the way they treated animals. The ignorance, the arrogance, the hypocrisy, the holier-than-thou attitude which are official character traits in this area.

In this small city, animals are 'things', not beings nor 'someones'. No one wants to give way when someone else crosses the street… no one wants to stand in line… no one listens to the police when they are managing the street… no one gives regards to the rules… everyone is throwing garbage into the river, and in every nook and sewer of this “Paris Van Java”, you can find road-kills or decomposing carcasses of all kinds of animals, and in every flea market wildlife cramped into matchboxes to spend the rest of their existence in filth, for a dime.

The force that changed my life came about two weeks before Christmas… at the peak of my disgust and in the shape of a tiny B/W kitten who cried day and night for 3 days on a scorching pavement near the office and when it finally found shelter under my boss' car, no one cared to get it out. It was the first time that my co-worker saw 'the personal assistant of the CEO' crawl under his Mercedes Benz wearing her expensive suit, high heels, make up... in order to pick up a half baked dirty kitten.


At my boarding house, I saw the landlord's 2 years old toddler kick their pet, a pregnant female cat that they never fed, whom despite the abuse, remained loyal to them. I lost myself when I saw that little boy heading for the cat again so I quickly picked her up and went to my room. I gave her a box, my blanket and no matter how many times I put her in that box she came back to me on the bed and then gave birth to five kittens right beside me! 

An unforgettable event which compelled me to name her: “Amazing Grace”. She is a graceful cat, an amazing mother, and a stranger who trusted me enough to give birth in my arms... like a touch of heaven that turned me around and opened my eyes to a whole new world I had never seen before... a road less traveled which I was ready to take.

Amazing Grace with Kittens

I shared the story of Grace, and Kaitou through private messages to friends on Care2 and via emails. A few months later, I found two kittens injured by motorcycle and rescued them. But for the first time in my life, I was running short of money & was struggling to pay vet bills. I wrote about that too. I was told, given the idea, to start a blog, establish a Paypal account, and without knowing what the heck I was really doing… I started to receive donations to pay for the vet and even help raise these two kittens into adulthood.

Picassa - kitten 1
Renoir - kitten 2

Through the course of time our blog developed, and it recounted the otherwise untold stories of forsaken animals in our corrupted paradise. 

The Whiskers' Syndicate was founded and became the only hope, both for the animals, and for me… reaching out to those who cared and were willing to help. We were aliens to our own countrymen, but friends to Good Samaritans. 

I started a side job as an online translator, as a storyboard writer, as a part time journalist, even as an athlete... all to keep food on the table for the growing numbers of cats under my care. 

Kaitou - a year after rescue
Renoir - a year after rescue

Every year, I faced eviction from landlords because of the cats… so we were forced to live in uncanny environments: an attic (hence cats living on the roof)… in 2010, we lived in a rental near a swamp… in 2011, no one would take us except for an old lady who liked cats and offered us a 6x8 square meter (516 square feet) area for me and at that point, 30 cats. 

In 2012, The Whiskers' Syndicate once again stood on the head of a pin when all of a sudden our rental could not be renewed and about to be left without roof nor room… our fate challenged my faith for longer than a moment… when out of nowhere we found our permanent home - an unsold property in a residential cluster that had a fair amount of land at its back and was surrounded by tall 2 story houses on both sides providing the cats with safety from traffic and human harm. So with what was left of my money, I took a 19 year mortgage on the property… something that I will fight to keep with all my heart and soul !

That August of 2012, with the support of our loyal friends, The Whiskers' Syndicate was chosen as Shelter Of The Month by SPCA International. SPCA knew about us from their “Operation Baghdad Pups”campaign which assisted dogs and cats adopted by Iraqi soldiers to fly safely to their new homes abroad.

Josie and her Catnip Mice
Toys for Cats

To date, we have saved close to 400 cats and TNR around 248 of them, all with our own money and donations. Unfortunately only 5 of those were adopted out, due to the prevailing belief that domestic cats have no economic value (long haired or exotic purebred or mixed bred can be sold and bred without regulation). 

The government does nothing to help us and have even tried to strangle us with non existent rules about animals which allows them to cull cats. Five is a small number, I know, but for a little town where 98% of its residents are backyard breeders (some of those are vets), we try not to discourage ourselves with the math, nor to have grandiose dreams of changing the world.

Our story is told through our blog, 'Quest 2 Canaan', which represents our earnest dream of peaceful co-existence between man and beast. Through Quest2Canaan we have met some of the most wonderful persons in the world, and with all their comments, writings, motivations… these became the source of our strength.

Handmade Fleece Bed
by The Whiskers' Syndicate
aka Josie of Whiscraft

When I look back at all of the events that lead me to where I am now, it's hard to believe how far I have come, and the unlikely “job training” that God gave me during my corporate years which prepared me for this role. I no longer have expensive suits, nor wear high heels, nor put on cosmetics… I no longer have corporate job that fills my wallet with lots of money to spend in the fanciest malls… and even if I was given the chance to change anything… I would do it the same all over again.

With this humble life, I am willing to die for this work of passion… a job which makes me feel like I am ten feet tall without wearing stilettos. I am happy to shake your hand with pride and say: I am an animal rescuer - I save lives everyday !

Cotton Cat mattress 

Tune in next week for our next feature !

The Whiskers' Syndicate

ViSiT their WEBSiTE
LiKE their Facebook

- click HERE -
for products that benefit
this Charity of the Month

for supporting
our COTM Program !


  1. Quite an interesting journey you've taken Josie :o) Congratulations on being selected as EFA's charity of the month!

  2. The honour is ours Jen. Thanks for your support


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