Scruffles and Odin
In July of 2017 my girlfriend Shalma and I were just a month into living in Cambodia. We had come here to do a great many things, none of which had anything to do with animals in any way. It all started when I saw some kittens in the alley. One died, and we rescued the other two. Of those two, one was extremely sick and on death’s door while the other was merely in a general state of poor health but seemed to be doing well enough. We started by rescuing the very sickly one, thinking it really had no chance. The other Shalma brought upstairs after finding some children playing a game of catch and using him as the ball. My previous post about these cats is here on my blog page. You can see little Scruffles and Odin below, just how we found them.
In this picture just below you can see Kasper. He is the little kitten that died. Had Shalma and I known then what we know now, we would have rescued Kasper, and he would most likely be alive today. He died before we started saving cats.
After taking in these cats, we took care of all of their medical needs. Shalma created a GoFundMe, and many of our friends helped us to take care of them. They had a lot of medical needs, especially Odin, who was so sick he had to spend more than two months in hospital. Right when we thought he was finally getting better, he developed ringworm all over his body and lost most of his fur. Meanwhile, Scruffles followed me wherever I went. I cooked fresh chicken for him and fattened him up. He became my best buddy. He would come sleep with me whenever I took a nap and mostly lived on my lap or in my arms. He would even climb me when I was standing so that he could get held–that wasn’t very nice! I built him a little habitat out of a cardboard box and a handy bit of paracord. He became so comfortable that he started drinking out of our cups instead of using a bowl.
Eventually Odin came home and we began watching them grow together. At first, Scruffles beat the hell out of his little brother, and Shalma was always very concerned about them. Over time, we saw Odin becoming stronger, and he started giving Scruffles the business right back. He was a pathetic sight for some time as his hair was growing back, but the two of them were inseparable in no time. Below is a picture of the boys together. You can see how Odin’s fur is still rather spotty at this point.
The cats became these gorgeous creatures, and my girlfriend turned into a crazy cat lady. On top of taking care of these two cats, she began carrying cat food around Phnom Penh to feed any animal in distress. I tried to support her as much as possible, but I have to admit I am far from perfect and failed more than once. It became really hard for me as I realized how bad my cat allergies are in the tropics.
Because of my allergies we realized these cats would need another home, especially as they got bigger and I became sicker. It turns out I am far more allergic to grown cats than the little ones. We actually briefly rented out a second place to keep them in order to salvage my health. Fortunately, we had friends from all over the world offering to help them. They seemed so in love with one another at that point that we hated to separate them. Our lovely friend Sanna offered to adopt the cats in her home in the farmland of central Sweden.
The biggest issue with Sweden is that they have a daunting cat immigration process. It is expensive and time consuming, requiring costly blood tests that must be sent all the way to the EU and tons of documentation, microchipping, several waiting periods. You cannot even bring the cats in until they are at least seven months old. Fortunately, the amazing people at Animal Mama helped us every step of the way. Eventually the day came when I could take them into a plane and deliver them to Sweden: January 29th 2018. I snapped a few photos of them the day I was taking them. They had become big luxurious cats, and Odin had become quite the strong hunter!
We loaded up the crates and grabbed a taxi to the airport. They were going on an 18 hour flight!
Arriving in Sweden
I arrived in Sweden early on the morning of January 30th. I had to get the cats through customs, which required a little sweet talking on my part. It isn’t uncommon to have mistakes on official paperwork in the Kingdom of Wonder, but it all worked out in the end. Next, I had to get on the half hour express train into Stockholm and catch a two hour train to Värmland where Sanna lives. She was kind enough to arrange the tickets. All of this was more difficult than it sounds. It wasn’t easy carrying two massive carriers and my own bags onto the train. Icy train platforms didn’t help, and I was constantly concerned about the wellbeing of the cats who had never felt this kind of cold before. Below are pictures from our arrival in Sweden and the surroundings of Scruffles and Odin’s new home.
The cats cried on the entire train ride to Sanna’s house. They were pretty distressed from the flight and the continued travel. I am pretty sure they both wanted a beer and a hot bath at that point. Okay, maybe not. But they were loud on the train, and I was really afraid that they were going to completely freak out and go hide for three days. That didn’t happen. Once we arrived, they actually just explored their surroundings and settled in quite nicely. Below are some pictures of them as they got used to their new home. They really enjoyed looking out the window at the strange new landscape.
They even like to play in the snow now! Sanna says they will go out for up to an hour then come back and knock on the window when they are all finished playing. She just sent us this picture a few days ago!
I stayed in Sweden for a couple nights, and Sanna was an amazing host. I got to spend time with her brothers and old friend Per as well. Overall it was an amazing trip. I cannot express how happy I am that Sanna took them in and that their new home is so amazing. Having said that, I was very excited to head to Copenhagen to see friends and have one of my favorite Shawarmas on earth, from Number One Shawarma on Strøget right near Rådhuspladsen in central Copenhagen.
The minute I got off the train I ran through the wind and snow to get my beloved Shawarma. I have thought a lot about becoming a vegetarian lately, but this was not the time.
I had little time after the Shawarma, so I ran back to the central train station and got on a train to Frederiksværk to enjoy some time with my old and dear friends Lone and Alex. It was lovely to spend time with them as I had not seen them in a little over five years. I really wished I could have stayed longer. Below are a few pictures I took there, including one of Alex making Frikadeller. He is the master of Danish meatballs. I wish I had taken more pictures while there because it was really very nice. Alex drove me around and showed me the entire area. I would like to buy a house there if I can figure out how I can actually live there.
After a few days in Denmark it was time to head back to Sweden and catch a flight home. I was very happy to go to Malmö and spend time with my wonderful old friend Sara and her husband Erik on the way back to Stockholm. We had a very nice dinner, and Sara and I had some beers and caught up afterward. We have known each other since we were teenagers and she was an important part of our clique as we were coming of age. At any rate, I look like I am with child in the picture below, but it was just a big Indian dinner.
I left Sara and Erik in the morning and went to stay in Gamle Stan, the old center of Stockholm. I had a nice dinner, went to sleep, and got onto a plane back to Cambodia in the morning. Overall, it was a successful trip, but there was sill more work to do in Cambodia. While raising Scruffles and Odin, we gained two more cats: Biscuit and PigPenh. I will tell that whole story in my next post, which is coming soon!