Cats, powders and potions

Sunnan lived in an apartment block across the street from the shelters. Built in the first wave of upgrading it was old and quite small. Through the front door you came into a small lobby. Most Korean residences have this small place, a lower floor than the rest of the house (they usually have under floor heating) and tiled this is where everyone takes off their shoes. This house was no difference, piles and piles of shoes. Up a step there was a small room on the left with a barred door. Inside I could see several wardrobes and cages and there were about five teenage cats languidly lying all over.


To the right the room opened up into the main area, turned into an office this too had wardrobes down the left side and two computer desks on the right. Every surface in this room was covered in cats. There were blankets filled with cats on top of the printer, on the table top, there were cat climbing frames and cats on top of the wardrobe.

On the left past the small room was the kitchen, again with barred doors, through the far window at the end I could hear tweeting. After the kitchen there was a short corridor with a bedroom on either side and the bathroom at the end of the hall. The bathroom really did have a bath, very unusual in a Korean home, but (as I learned after getting Sunnan a Body Shop box for Christmas) the bath was never used… except by the cats.

At the first computer in the main room I was introduced to Hye-Jin*, a young capable woman who was essentially the charity secretary. Sunnan and I usually sat in this main room, I often had to borrow a seat from a cat or perch on a sideboard. On this occasion I had brought both dogs in. Luna sat next to Hye-Jin on the side, keeping a careful eye on all of the cats.

Molly and I went into the kitchen with Sunnan. I explained Molly’s symptoms and what the vet had said. Sunnan was very sad and frustrated. She was angry with the vet for giving up, but had lots of experience with sick puppies and kittens.


She set us up with some of her own medicine. Sunnan’s husband was a pharmacist. After years of reading his books and working in his store she had a firm belief that she could treat anything. She treated most human things with Vitamin C.

I went away with pockets full of little sachet’s of power and careful instructions, how to feed, how often to feed. Keep her quiet, not too much exercise. The trick was to keep the cough and cold treated, and hope the seizures never developed.

*Names changed for privacy


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