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  • Geesche Neuburg

Sannie & Jannie, the story of 2 kitties from Namibia (Have a Heart)

This is from Geesche Neuburg with Have a Heart-Namibia. It's a beautiful story, not without sad parts, but really, it's a familiar story for all of us who love animals.


Jannie's is such a beautiful and heartbreaking story and I'm always thankful AKI is helping so many animals, but this time I'm so so so so so extra happy the AKI Emergency Fund exists.

2 cats
Sannie (on the left), Jannie (on the right) before the accident, in happier times

A few years ago Jannie was found by a truck driver, together with his sister Sannie, they were dumped as kittens in Ariamsvlei. The truck driver kept them and they are his best friends. One of the feral cat volunteers from Windhoek - Ronja - is looking after Sannie (Sannie doesn't like traveling and driving that much) when the owner is on tour, but Jannie is usually with his owner on the road. Best friends, together 24/7. Ronja also told us the owner is not earning that much, he is living in his car, he doesn't have a home he owns or rents. But he has his two cats, they are his family.

cat and his human
Jannie with Mr Oppermann, they are family

On 23 May at 10:30, Jannie was hit by a car and his leg and his right eye were injured. Mr Oppermann took him immediately to the animal emergency clinic in Windhoek, where he was stabilized. His back leg was badly broken and his right eye was in bad shape. Jannie had a good chance to be fine again, but the owner didn't have money to pay for his treatment, so he faced the decision to have Jannie put to sleep. What a nightmare. Letting your best friend go just because of the lack of money? No, not when there is an AKI Emergency Fund! We knew the clinic would keep their costs down, but Jannie would have to get extensive treatment and pain control, maybe an eye removal at some stage. He will definitely have to stay at the clinic for a few days. Jannie is so much loved and cared for, he is so important for his owner in such tough times, AKI might not only have saved his life, but also his owner's...? But one thing is for sure, AKI made the world a better place AGAIN!!

cat at vet clinic
Jannie at the vet clinic under a warm light (it's winter in Namibia)

P.S. I googled "Jannie and Sannie", they are some famous Afrikaans imaginary children asking funny questions:

Jannie: Pa, why was Adam created first? Pa: So that he has a chance to say something at least once.

On 1 June I got an email from Jannie's vet: Jannie will be fine. I spoke to his owner today (he phoned me) and I was in tears. His owner is an elderly man, currently unemployed and he says Jannie is always with him, even when he goes to the shops. He needs this cat. He nearly cried today when he thanked me.

The vet said it will be expensive but Jannie will be ok, it would kill me if I would have to say stop treatment and put him down because it's too expensive. I'd rather pay for it myself. This is from the vet:

I am thrilled to hear that there might be a chance to assist Mr Oppermann with his cat’s medical bills. Jannie sustained some very serious injuries, but we have managed to stabilise him and I have successfully completed one orthopaedic surgery on him already to repair a horrible fracture on one hindleg. Unfortunately the other hip is dislocated and this will require an additional surgery. I am confident that I will be able to save the hip and there is no reason in my mind why Jannie should not recover well after his ordeal. If all goes well and to plan I would be optimistic that Jannie would be ready to go home by Thursday / Friday this week. On the pictures from today (23 May) you can clearly see his right eye is still not ok, but maybe we are lucky and it will heal and doesn't need to be removed. Poor cat, just the eye alone looks like he was in a lot of pain.

10 June: Jannie is doing well! The clinic allowed him to go home, but as his owner is living in his car and because Jannie is not allowed to walk around a lot for the next 4 - 6 weeks, it was unfortunately not an option for Jannie to go home. He will go to a foster family.

His foster parents set up everything ready for Jannie to stay safe at their home and picked him up at the clinic. They fell in love immediately, Jannie is such a sweetheart, they say he is purring non stop.

cat with foster dad
Jannie was briefly at a foster home before returning to the clinic for physical therapy

But then the next day they got a message that the clinic is offering physio treatment for a few weeks for Jannie for free! This is amazing! Sadly he had to go back to the clinic now, but this is the best thing to do for Jannie's future!

I'm so happy about this, everyone around Jannie is realising how much of a beautiful boy he is and how much he is needed and so many people pitch in to help him!

June 21: Jannie finished his physio and is now back with his foster parents. They are in love, Jannie is such a sweetheart!

Jannie is doing great and started walking very well and enjoys being spoiled. But Mr Oppermann, his owner, misses him and as soon as he is healthy enough he will of course go back home. He is in a cage during the night and when his foster parents are at work to keep him safe. When they are at home he is joining the family and as you can see in the pictures he is loving it:

July 16: Jannie went home a few days ago and I got some pictures from his very very grateful owner. Jannie and Sannie are back together:

Early August: Jannie is currently in foster care as his owner found work and is currently driving. Jannie would have loved to join but he is still busy healing so it was more safe for him to stay in Windhoek. We have winter in Namibia and it is coooold during the nights but when the sun comes out, Jannie enjoys a little sun bath at his foster home:

On August 25, we got this very sad news!

Sannie, the sister of famous Jannie, went over the rainbow bridge.

Super sad, it all went so fast. Ronja was fostering her as Mr Arpie Opperman and Jannie were on a trip (he got a job for two weeks). Ronja noticed Sannie walking a bit wobbly, Ronja said it looks like she broke her hip. Ronja took her to the vet for a check up of her hip but the vet said it looks like some sort of lymphoma!

They couldn't make any blood tests to confirm this as they have to be sent to South Africa but for whatever reason there are currently problems at the border and no blood tests go through. So they tested some other things to eliminate a few other options. But Sannie was already not doing well at all, they didn't even know if she would make it through the night. With this type of very aggressive blood cancer it goes downhill fast and there is not a lot one can do.

The next morning it looked like Sannie was doing better, she was eating very well. The vet said we should try for three days with cortisone and antibiotics, but have her stay at the clinic to monitor her closely. There was a glimmer of hope it wasn't blood cancer!

2 cats
Sannie (on the left) with brother Jannie before his accident, before her illness

But it was a false hope, we had to say good bye to Sannie a few hours later, she was so sick and wanted to leave. Ronja was with her, so she wasn't alone. Now I'm again happy we could help Jannie, imagine how tragic it would have been if Mr Opperman would have lost both his cats he rescued as kittens within only a few months of each other. At least he still has Jannie.

I'm sure Ronja and Mr Opperman are more at peace with Sannie being gone because the AKI Emergency Fund made it possible to help with a vet visit and Sannie didn't need to suffer!!

cat and his person
Mr. Oppermann and Jannie


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