Warning: disturbing images
When Danica first laid her eyes on Etela’s cats, most of them were already adults. It is presumed that they’ve been living at Etela’s dog and cat shelter for years, until everything burned down to the ground in March 2011. No one is really sure what exactly caused the fire. The electricity supply at Etela’s shelter was cut off due to unpaid bills, and it is said that Etela’s been using candles so she could move around the house at dark. It was suspected that the tragedy struck when a lit candle got knocked over and the open flame ignited the curtains. The major part of Etela’s house disappeared in a fierce blaze. Etela herself lost her life together with at least 30 of her cats. Several of the surviving kitties were attacked, killed and eaten by dogs on the site of the fire later on.
Etela ran a shelter of about 350 dogs and 60 cats, supposedly, many of which had lived in the house with her and died a horrible death in the fire that ravaged the shelter, together with their owner. The shelter itself was quite far from any human settlements, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere. Etela’s dogs must have been barking all through that horrendous, fatal night and the house in flames must have been making loud crackling and popping sounds. Thick smoke would have been rising high into the sky, but sadly, no one saw anything, no one heard anything. Not until hours later did anyone know of the horror that all of the shelter tenants endured that fateful night at the beginning of spring, when unexpectedly and relentlessly, destiny struck a cruel blow.
When everything was over, the surviving animals had remained at what was left of a burned out home for almost a month, all by themselves. They had been provided with some food, but no one kept an eye on their wellbeing. Big dogs were attacking the small ones, and some of them were attacking the cats, most of which found a safe place on the remains of the roof of the partially burned house. Whenever any of them were jumping down, compelled by hunger, they were putting their lives at risk. Days were passing by, then days turned into weeks and all of the kitties were still there, on top of that devastated place, desperately struggling to survive sufficiently long to see another dawn.
After their horrible ordeal, all of the cats that were strong enough, persistent enough and more than anything lucky enough to survive the tragedy, deserved to have the best life possible. Over several rescue missions, all of them were taken from that place of horror and found their new homes in two separate cat shelters, Jessica and Felix. The first time Danica went there, she couldn’t take more than five cats because she didn’t have enough carriers. However, there was no chance that Danica could’ve forgotten about the ones that remained at the fire site, so she finally ended up with more than 20 of Etela’s cats. All of them were sick and thin, full of worms and flees and with ear mange; many of them haven’t been neutered or spayed. It took them some time to recover, but most of them did, eventually, and they are now living very happy, fulfilled and carefree lives at CSF Sanctuary. The oldest and the sickest cats didn’t make it, unfortunately, but at least they passed away peacefully, surrounded by love and care.
The fire at Etela’s shelter was the biggest tragedy that could’ve been imagined and a big sensation at the time, but it seems that everyone has forgotten about it long ago. Most of Etela’s dogs were rescued by some foreign organizations, but her cats were disregarded even then and much more now. No one seems to care how they’re doing, as if they’ve disappeared from the scene the minute they were picked up from that horribly damaged shelter. Moreover, the veil of oblivion has covered over all of the precious beings that lost their lives in the blaze.
Most of Etela’s cats died with her, but even the surviving ones are neither important nor interesting to anyone anymore. Some things we’ll never be able to understand. It looks like cats are always marginalized unfairly. For us here at CSF, each and every one of Etela’s kitties is a blessing, a tiny spark of light emerged out of the deepest darkness, a triumph of hope over indifference. In honor to all those who are no longer with us, their story must be remembered.